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‘Engineers must embrace entrepreneurship and education to benefit society’: Governor

Published in Education Saturday, 29 July 2017 16:01

Exhorting incoming engineering students to work towards becoming innovators rather than employees, Kerala Governor  Justice (retd) P. Sathasivam said  that inculcating lessons in societal commitment and developing an entrepreneurial bent would enable them to become difference-makers.

“Just as society is investing its resources in your education, so too must you fulfill your responsibilities to bring about important improvements in it and create a more inclusive pattern of social development,” he said.

“While academics will empower you to take up challenges, entrepreneurship will provide you with direction. Already, startups are thinking up cost-effective, low-energy usage tech that will be of great benefit to the society as a whole,” Justice Sathasivam observed.

The Governor was inaugurating ‘Sankethapravesam – 2017’, a one-day induction programme for first year engineering students at Tagore Theatre Thiruvananthapuram.

Organised by APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University (KTU) and Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM) in association with the IT Department, the event – which channelled the teachings of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on the second anniversary of his death – was beamed to engineering colleges across the state.

Encouraging the students to think on bridging the divide between the pace of technological progress and the growth of societal concerns, Chief Minister Shri Pinarayi Vijayan said the government was doing its utmost to arrest the trend of brain drain in the state.

“The government is creating opportunities for home-grown engineers to stay here and use their talents to make a difference in the state. In addition to education, the need of the hour is innovative ideas as also an understanding of your commitment to the society that is nurturing you,” he said, citing the example of ‘Metro Man’ Dr E. Sreedharan as one to follow.

The function was presided over by Education Minister Prof. C. Raveendranath, who hoped that engineering students would not only look to score “A+ grades in exams but also carry that determination forward into their professional lives”.

Lauding Kerala for being one of two states to make headway in implementing the All India Council for Technical Education’s recently released startup policy, AICTE Chairman Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe stressed the importance of a vibrant startup culture for furthering technological and social development.

Dr Sahasrabudhe also noted that the curriculum for engineering schools was under revision in order to both improve employability of students and instill a sense of entrepreneurship in them.

Expanding on this observation, IT Secretary Shri M. Sivasankar pointed out that the new engineering students’ handbook for 2017-2021 – which was released by the Governor during the function – contained a new provision that would allow students to avail of a one-year break in their studies in order to work full-time on a particularly innovative idea or project. 

“If even one per cent of the 40,000 incoming engineering students takes this up, it will not only enhance their prospects for employability but also contribute to the continued development of Kerala as an innovation hub,” Shri Sivasankar said.

The function also saw Dr E. Sreedharan speak on the importance of professional ethics and values. He outlined four cardinal virtues every engineer must adhere to: punctuality, integrity, professional competence and commitment to society.

KTU vice-chancellor Dr Kuncheria P. Isaac delivered the welcome address. KTU Dean (Academics) Dr J. Sreekumar also spoke.

Later, Dr Sahasrabudhe participated in a panel discussion on the importance of startup culture with Startup Village Collective (SV.CO) Chairman Shri Sanjay Vijayakumar, Trinity College of Engineering Principal Dr Arun Surendran, former Microsoft director and founder of the Jackfruit 365 initiative Shri James Joseph and Shri Santhosh Kurup, CEO of ICT Academy Kerala.

‘Unemployability of engineering graduates due
 to outdated curriculum’: AICTE Chairman

Observing that the recent downward trend in engineering graduate employability was due to outdated curriculum, All India Council for Technical Education Chairman (AICTE) Dr Anil Sahasrabudhe said that a slew of remedial measures, including a reduced credit requirement and more practical tests, are set to be launched.

“Antiquated syllabi and run-of-the-mill modes of setting exam papers are the reason why surveys label a high percentage of graduates from our engineering schools as ‘unemployable’. To allow them the time to self-learn and give them freedom to experiment, the number of credits needed to graduate with a B.Tech degree in four years will be reduced to 160 from the current 200-credit requirement,” Dr Sahasrabhudhe said.

The reframed credit system, which works out to a 10 credit reduction per year of study, is expected to be implemented in the coming academic year, he added, noting that this would greatly decrease the pressure students are put under. Exams too will feature questions that require students to apply their lessons instead of regurgitating them by rote.

Dr Sahasrabhudhe was speaking on the sidelines of ‘Sankethapravesam – 2017’

Induction programmes for students are also slated for a makeover, growing into a three-week experience that goes beyond the prescribed textbooks to sensitise them to the grand-scale challenges facing the country besides helping develop inter-personal skills, upgrade their English proficiency and improve soft skills. Faculty members will also undergo a six-week induction programme.

“This will not only change student experience; it will create a more level playing field that will help turn students into good citizens. With one teacher designated to mentor and counsel a group of 20 students, the programme will help facilitate their entry into academic and campus life,” Dr Sahasrabudhe said.

In addition, the ‘Swayam’ IT learning portal indigenously developed by the Union Government and AICTE will help ensure access to quality instruction for all. Interactive courses, prepared by the country’s best professors, will be available free of cost, which will help augment and enrich student learning, he added.

Dr Sahasrabudhe also participated in a panel discussion that further explored the possibilities of developing an entrepreneurial startup culture among students from within educational institutions.

“Engineering colleges must include courses on entrepreneurship and encourage students to cultivate new ideas. If the faculty supports new ideas from students , it will empower them to take them forward,” he said, adding that perseverance from students’ side was as important.
The other panelists were Startup Village Collective (SV.CO) Chairman Sanjay Vijayakumar, former director of executive engagement at Microsoft India and founder of the Jackfruit365 initiative Shri James Joseph, Principal of Trinity College of Engineering Dr Arun Surendran and Shri Santhosh Kurup, CEO of ICT Academy Kerala.

Photo Caption

Governor Justice P. Sathasivam inaugurating ‘Sankethapravesam – 2017’, a high-profile induction programme for Kerala’s engineering students

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