Engineering Curriculum Needs A Revamp In India
India is one country which thrives on talent. With the sheer number of students completing engineering each year, this is one unique place in the world.
I compare this with the United States. Lots of Presidential debates talk about younger generation not being interested in Science and Engineering. This is the exact opposite in India. It is an aspiring nation and everyone is keen to learn, be an engineer or work in Technology.
Thiruvalluvar, the great Tamil poet-saint – says this about Education
கற்க கசடறக் கற்பவை கற்றபின்
நிற்க அதற்குத் தக.
Learner, learn your learning full well and fault free
And then make your learning with life’s living truths agree
(Kural – 391)
Today, education including engineering education is far from what Thiruvalluvar dreamt of.
Private Institutions – A Boon and A Bane
India has a lot of private institutions. This is both a boon and a bane. Private institutions can easily step up and be in line with the industry. Is the curriculum in private institutions current? How many students are aware of artificial intelligence, machine learning and latest Machine Intelligence and statistical computing software like TensorFlow or R?
Today technology is a big equalizer and for the last couple of decades, everything is open source. All you need is an internet connection, a desktop/laptop, and the passion for learning new things.
Shocking Statistics On Engineering Graduates
A New Delhi-based employment solutions company, Aspiring Minds, conducted an employability-focused study based on 150,000 engineering students who graduated in 2013. The findings were rather shocking.
- As many as 97 percent of graduating engineers want jobs either in software engineering or core engineering.
- However, only 3 percent have suitable skills to be employed in software or product market, and only 7 percent can handle core engineering tasks
- The research further shows that approximately 52.21% engineers are rejected because they are not soft skills trainable in a short period of time, whereas around 49.28% lose on technical trainability.
- The employability of engineers in IT services companies is 17.91%.
- The employability of engineers in IT product companies is 3.67%.
The report had stats on hiring too and it was no good news…
- Small and Medium sized Enterprises (IT) companies do not expect the person to bring in in-depth knowledge of computer science, the minimum expectation is to be able to write a decent piece of code for a given problem and the ability to debug and submit a working program. Only 4.51% of candidates possess such skills and are software industry ready. This explains why the hiring process for SMEs is so hard and time-consuming.
What Needs To Be Done?
We need to be trained to solve problems. One of my biggest impediments, when I did engineering was to score and clear the exams. In about two decades, things are still the same. However, the good news is, the younger generation today is very smart. They have a lot of exposure. One would need channel the students in the right direction exposing them to what is available.
A central repository outlining the opportunities available for students can be created. Digital resources available can be shared. Lots of US universities offer free online courses. They could be shared.
Let us ask the computer science students some simple questions.
- Do they know Khan Academy?
- Do they know what is the Google IO Conference?
- Have they played with Facebook open libraries?
- Apple SDK
If the answer is NO to any one of the questions, we have a problem. This is also a business opportunity. I am enthused with the talent available in India. We need to have our students get better. All we need to do is be better facilitators and share what is available for people who don’t know.
What Role Can The Government Play?
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised in his election speeches, it needs to be less governance and more facilitation.
Let’s Buckle Up
Technology is moving at a very rapid pace and we are moving at a snail’s pace. In CBSE schools, they still teach FoxPro at the middle school. It may sound ridiculous but that’s what they do. (And CBSE schools are supposed to provide top-notch education).
Canadian schoolchildren will soon start learning computer coding and other digital skills from kindergarten through to high school.
There are movements that promote coding.
Let’s begin NOW.
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