“Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” said Malcolm X the famous African-American human rights activist, who was a prominent figure during the civil rights movement.
Education is about sharing knowledge with others and also about receiving knowledge from someone else. Students choose to pursue higher education in areas of their choices and likings once they complete their Senior secondary school. Studying Engineering and to become a successful engineer is one such dream of many.
Engineering Education in India
The engineering education system, in India, has undergone a sea change over the last 40 years or so. When I graduated from an Institute of repute about 4 decades back, there were 5 eminent Institutes of Technology backed by Regional Engineering Colleges (which later came to be known as National Institutes of Technology) for each state. Additionally, the country had about 35 – 40 Engineering Institutes that were started in the Pre-Independent era. So, in the early 1980s, India had about 70 to 75 Institutes that rolled out Graduate engineers.
Today, after a span of just 4 decades, we have about 4100 colleges in India that offer B-Tech and BE degrees, of which 600 are public with government finance and the rest, about 3500, are privately owned and managed. All these colleges have their curriculum designed for full-time on-campus education, till 2020 when COVID set the new trend of online education for schools and colleges.
But let us view the jump. In about 40 years there has been almost 60 folds rise in the number of colleges. It is expected that the increase in the number of students aspiring to become successful Engineers must have been similar.
If we have to identify one single cause which resulted in this effect – the answer would be the arrival of Information Technology or IT in the mid-1980s and its demand to continuously change our life since the 1990s.
The Influence of the IT Industry
The advent of IT also had its effect on the way Engineering education used to be imparted by the teachers and received by the students in the Engineering colleges. A bigger influence of Information Technology has been the massive placement opportunities it created for fresh graduate engineers within India and abroad. Consequently, the demand for core engineering courses amongst freshers started diminishing. This had a cascading effect. Within the Institutes also, the core engineering courses started to lose their shine. The interest since the 1990s shifted towards developing next-generation courses.
However, the industrial growth of developing nations, like India, is heavily dependent on the Manufacturing of Capital Goods and Building of Infrastructure. These two, namely, Manufacturing and Construction are driven by Engineers from core courses of Engineering. The two activities are now largely serviced and facilitated by IT to make them more efficient and productive.
The Future of Engineering Education in India – With the L&T Advantage
Larsen & Toubro (L&T), which is a multifaceted company with engagements in Engineering, Manufacturing, Construction, as well as in IT and Technological Services, recruits close to 15,000 fresh engineers in a year. We, like other companies, felt the rising gap between our expectations vis-a-vis the readiness of fresh engineers graduating from the Institutes.
Hence, L&T, with a new initiative EduTech, has decided to pitch in to bridge this gap in collaboration with the Universities/Engineering Institutes for the benefit of tomorrow’s engineers. The College Connect vertical of L&T EduTech has developed very well-thought baskets of Core Engineering courses, Horizontal courses across disciplines as well as Next Generation courses to share with the Institutes and their students. These are developed by blending the years of experience of L&T’s Professionals as well as renowned Academicians. They are planned to be delivered online to have maximum reach amongst the students.
The Mechanical Engineering courses, to which team I belong, have been currently put under three main baskets, namely, Power, Process Engineering and Manufacturing. We are right now working on ten courses and have plans to add a greater number of courses under each basket as well as create new baskets, for the benefit of the Students, Engineering faculties at the Institutes and finally the society at large.