‘In­cu­ba­tion cen­tres of IITS are heav­ily tilted to­wards IT’

Two em­i­nent sci­en­tists talk about the need for more civil and me­chan­i­cal engi­neers in In­dia and how stu­dents can bring about a change

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Gauri Kohli

Af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh re­cently an­nounced the new sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy pol­icy, HT Ed­u­ca­tion spoke to Pradeep Khosla, chan­cel­lor, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, USA, and Ashish Lele, win­ner of the In­fosys Prize 2012 for En­gi­neer­ing and Com­puter Sci­ence, about the en­gi­neer­ing ed­u­ca­tion sce­nario in In­dia. How will In­dia fare in the field of sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy in the next decade? Khosla: I don’t see In­dia be­ing a power in the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy do­main in the next decade. It’s not be­cause of a dearth of tal­ent, but be­cause there aren’t any strong poli­cies sup­port­ive of cre­at­ing enough tal­ented peo­ple.

Lele: It is a chal­lenge for the sci­en­tists to strike a bal­ance be­tween both fun­da­men­tal and ap­plied sciences. The prob­lem ar­eas are en­ergy and health­care. Tak­ing in­no­va­tive projects to the masses is an­other hur­dle. The chal­lenge is to get in­sti­tutes from many dis­ci­plines to­gether to be

able to ad­dress th­ese. A lot of stu­dents come up with in­no­va­tive projects in many en­gi­neer­ing in­sti­tu­tions such as the IITs, but very few get the chance to take them to the next level. What would you sug­gest to th­ese stu­dents? Khosla: We need to work on get­ting peo­ple who can look at an idea and mon­e­tise it. The In­dian government is in­vest­ing a lot in re­search but it does not have an in­te­grated pol­icy that ad­dresses this is­sue.

Lele: You need to have an ecosys­tem in place for this. A strong in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty cell and reg­u­lar fund­ing are some of the im­por­tant things we need. Which dis­ci­plines in sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing need more at­ten­tion in the next few years? Khosla: There is a need for ma­te­rial and civil engi­neers. But when you talk about the work coming out of IITs, all of it is sig­nif­i­cantly dis­torted be­cause you are mainly aimed at the IT sec­tor. There are a num­ber of engi­neers who get ed­u­cated but never prac­tice what they learn.

Lele: If you look at the in­cu­ba­tion cen­tres of the IITs, they are heav­ily tilted Sto­wards IT. The first pref­er­ence of IIT grad­u­ates is to work in banks, the fi­nance and IT sec­tors. En­gi­neer­ing comes in as a third op­tion and that too for ar­eas like com­puter sci­ence. We really need more civil and me­chan­i­cal engi­neers to give an im­pe­tus to the man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. Do col­lab­o­ra­tions with for­eign in­sti­tutes really help In­dian in­sti­tutes? Khosla: I think it will have an im­pact but the prob­lem is that a lot of such tie-ups are not solv­ing the real prob­lem. Solv­ing that prob­lem would mean bring­ing that style of ed­u­ca­tion to this coun­try and I don’t see that hap­pen­ing right now. The brand name of an in­sti­tute holds greater im­por­tance in In­dian ethos. It’s im­por­tant to get the ped­a­gogy, in­no­va­tion and re­search ca­pac­i­ties here. How are the new en­gi­neer­ing ar­eas grow­ing? Where are the jobs? Lele: Both the pub­lic sec­tor and the pri­vate sec­tor are in­vest­ing heav­ily on R&D. This will al­low engi­neers to en­joy the free­dom to in­no­vate and also give them funds for re­search. Com­pa­nies like the Aditya Birla Group, Re­liance In­dus­tries, L&T and In­dian Oil Cor­po­ra­tion are some ex­am­ples. How should a stu­dent choose the dis­ci­pline in en­gi­neer­ing? Khosla: It should be based on their pas­sion. The in­sti­tutes should also un­der­stand what the stu­dents want. In the US, if a stu­dent joins an en­gi­neer­ing pro­gramme he has the free­dom to study other dis­ci­plines as well. So a com­puter en­gi­neer­ing stu­dent can go for civil en­gi­neer­ing as well. This makes learn­ing in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary.

Pradeep Khosla, chan­cel­lor, Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, USA, (left) and Ashish Lele, win­ner of the In­fosys Prize 2012 for En­gi­neer­ing and Com­puter Sci­ence

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.