|Top Engineering Colleges|
There’s no beating the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) when it comes to engineering. IIT-Kanpur retains first place on the list of the country’s best institutions for technical education. IIT-Delhi retains its second place while IIT-Kharagpur moves up to the third spot. IIT-Chennai and IIT-Roorkee close out the top five.
At number 6, the Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences (BITS), Pilani, is India’s best privately run engineering institute. IIT-Kanpur’s continued top billing is confirmation of the institute’s commitment to excellence. It has unveiled a new model for academics, in acceptance of the Academic Programme Review Committee report.
The most significant development for the institute in the past year has been that of providing students an open architecture of academics. The undergraduate programme now puts focus on interdisciplinary learning to give students access to a wider body of knowledge.
Interactive and collaborative models of teaching and learning have already been introduced. Other changes, such as an option to complete the BTech programme in two different streams in five years, will be introduced from the next academic session.
“The freedom provided to students and faculty in academic as well as non-academic activities makes IITKanpur a unique institution,” says S.G. Dhande, Director, IIT-Kanpur. The freedom is double-edged: it offers students a new way of learning and living and also puts huge responsibility on the shoulders of teachers and students, he adds.
This freedom has translated into a significant rise in research work on campus. The institute received over Rs 100 crore last year from private agencies for sponsored research and consultancy in addition to the planned Government budget of Rs 50 crore and non-planned budget of Rs 122 crore.
“Nowadays more undergraduate students are showing an interest in research, which was earlier a prerogative of postgraduate students. Their participation in the institute’s research activity has dramatically gone up,” says Ajit Chaturvedi, Dean, Research and Development, IIT-Kanpur.
Ambitious research projects undertaken at IIT Kanpur include the Satellite Imaging for Rail Navigation project, which was introduced in the Railway Budget Mamata Banerjee presented this year. The institute is also engaged in an information and communication technology venture to meet the country’s vast agriculture demand. IIT-Kanpur is also developing organic solar cells to produce solar energy. The institute’s primary goal in the new academic year is to emphasize research and strengthen postgraduate education.
With a casual, friendly and cosmopolitan teaching environment, IIT-Kanpur provides freedom for students to grow, innovate, analyze and play with new ideas. Chaturvedi says education doesn’t just mean doing courses, it also entails intellectual growth.
An IIT-Kanpur education, he insists, produces innovators and not merely job-seekers. “A majority of students is choosing finance oriented jobs over technology-oriented ones in recent times as the former pays better. Every industry needs sharp brains. I encourage more students to get into the growing field of technology,” he says.
IIT-Delhi, a close second to IIT-Kanpur, is setting up a facility for nanoscale research and fabrication of nanoscale non-silicon devices. The interdisciplinary centre has brought together more than 50 faculty members and hundreds of students across departments. The research projects from agency sponsorships are worth more than Rs 120 crore. In 2011, its golden jubilee year, the institute has developed a new scheme for identifying high impact research projects.
“For IIT-Delhi, change is the only constant. The constant desire to improve and evolve sets us apart. We have three pillars of strength. First, there is infinite freedom of thought for students and faculty to set their own agendas and create their own paths in life. Second, scholarship, which comes naturally because of the quality of students and faculty we recruit, and last, a constant desire to remain sensitive to the needs of the society we live in,” says Surendra Prasad, Director, IIT-Delhi.
The college has also set up a First Year Teaching Council to steer discussions and workshops to motivate teachers to experiment with pedagogical methods. A mentoring programme by senior undergraduate students to help freshers in their formative phase at the institute has shown remarkably promising results.
LEATHER CAPITAL TO TECH TITAN
Started in 1959, IIT-Kanpur began functioning from a building borrowed from the Harcourt Butler Technological Institute at Agricultural Gardens in Kanpur.
A year later, the Uttar Pradesh government allocated land 15 km west of Kanpur city. In 1963, the institute moved to its current location. Its founding director, Purushottam Kashinath Kelkar, registered the IIT-Kanpur Society on December 14, 1959. The 110-acre Grand Trunk Road campus was designed by Delhi based architect Achyut Kanvinde. When it began, IIT-Kanpur had just 100 students on its rolls. Today, the institution has over 5,000 students and 350 faculty members.
On the eve of its diamond jubilee year, third-ranked IIT-Kharagpur has ramped up its infrastructure and introduced several new programmes in the past year, such as a dual-degree programme in engineering entrepreneurship, a master’s programme in infrastructure design and management, water resource management and an executive MBA programme.
The institute is also offering joint masters and PhD study schemes. Not wanting to lag behind in research, the institute is working to bring medical and engineering convergence, leveraging technology to create a new system of health-care delivery. Biomedical research and medical outreach will form two pillars of the new system of health-care delivery.
The institute is also working towards attaining international competitiveness. Student creations, such as an automated underwater vehicle and a Formula 1 car, have entered global competitions.
The institute has put the recent embarrassment of a senior professor using the campus and IIT brand to run a fake institute behind it. “IIT-Kharagpur is currently undergoing a transformational phase. The institute’s target is to figure among the top 10 institutions in Asia and top 50 institutions in the world in the next 10 years. It wants to be a leader in the creation and dissemination of knowledge. Multidisciplinary education and research, with technology as its core, will be its focus. State-of-the-art research infrastructure is being created,” says Damodar Acharya, Director, IIT-Kharagpur.
Technical education in India has expanded exponentially in recent years and the IITS continue to be the top-tier institutes. But they’re still a long way from being world-class institutions: none of the IITS figure in the top 25 world university ranking for engineering and technology.
“Indian society looks at IITS as elite undergraduate institutions. This is unfortunate. IITS should have created an impact in research, postgraduate education, development of technologies for the benefit of society and providing effective academic and intellectual leadership to the society at large. This has not been the case,” says IIT-Kanpur’s Dhande. “Society should demand more from IITS instead of merely glorifying them as elite undergraduate colleges. Being national heroes and international zeros is not going to work for long,” he adds. Sharp but sensible.