Do Indian engineering colleges kill students' innovative skills?

By Sikta Samantaray   |   Wednesday, 24 February 2010, 02:40 Hrs   |    47 Comments
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Do Indian engineering colleges kill students' innovative skills?
Bangalore: While Silicon Valley is talking about its third wave of innovation like the touchscreen revolution; to develop renewable energy and other clean, green technologies - Cleantech, an Indian engineering student is still in doldrums either to focus on getting good marks in examination or take the risk of experimenting with his idea. This is because Indian engineering colleges still assess students' skills based on their ability to repeat the text- book knowledge in the exams, rather than on their ability to think 'out-of-box.' Dr. Ashok Jhunjhunwala, Head of Electrical Engineering Department at IIT Chennai says, "Education system is one cog in the wheel, which affects students to a certain level."

Even Professor K Gopinath, Computer Science & Automation (CSA), Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore believes that that India's education system kills the spirit of innovation among students by not letting them to illustrate their skills at university level. He says, "There is no sufficient ecosystem or technological artifacts for students in colleges." He explains that these engineering students are not given the right platform to implement their skills and the freedom to access or play with devices.

Further pinpointing the quality of education standard in Indian engineering colleges, the Professor says, "Many Indian engineering colleges hire those engineers as lecturers, who didn't get a job in the market and are willing to work for a significantly lower salary. They have only theoretical knowledge and that is the best that they can impart to students. And finally, the students aren't encouraged to go deep into a subject because the teachers are incapable of supporting the students' queries." He also opines that there a majority of colleges in India, which are inclined only towards the business of making money and not in the business of building knowledgeable engineers.

These views re-emphasize on the recent findings of a study entitled 'The Emerging Global Labour Market', that though India produces more than six lakh engineers every year, yet, only a few are employable. Also, study by McKinsey Global Institute has found that the proportion of suitable engineers in Europe is twice that of India. Even the premier institutes like IITs and IISc, in spite of the unlimited support by Indian standards given to them, have failed to take up cutting edge research or motivate students to be entrepreneurs to look at Indian centric issues, believes Prof. B. S. Satyanarayana, Principal of R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore. He says, "These premier institutes have been only involved in too much of supportive research just to garner the international trips and training people as support staff for the international or especially rather U.S. universities and basking in their students achievements, as leaders in education."

Now the question arises, is only Indian education system responsible for not allowing students to come up with innovative ideas or even parents and society are also equally responsible. Most of these engineering students are sometimes pushed to take a stream, which do not interest them, and they go nowhere in the career. Jhunjhunwala says, "It is the responsibility of 21-22 year old engineering students to make right choice for their career or work place." He says for instance the IT majors like Infosys and Wipro do not allow the engineers to take the risk of implementing their ideas, "blocking the road to innovation."

It is true that everyone can't become Jerry Yang and David Filo (Yahoo founders), but can still follow the way how a genius works. "The only lacking factor is the necessary platform, most of our ideas are serving MNCs like Ajay Bhatt- Intel (Founder of USB pen drive), Sabeer Bhatia (Co-founder Hotmail)," says Suresh Chand, Senior Software Engineer at Alcatel-Lucent.

This is the time where the Govt. should pitch in. Currently, we do not even spend 1/3rd of amount being spent by Germany for R&D sector. "It is not about only education system or attitude of society, whole system needs to change. Younger generation of engineering graduates should not just aim to score higher marks in academics, but should think about the ways to impart technology into their day to day life," says Chand. Stressing on the similar points, Shanker Janakiraman, CEO, Symbioun Technology says, "Colleges should bring in more creative projects/art work in elementary schools. They should carry marks for innovation and make it factor in college admissions."

However, irrespective of the Government support to trigger the innovation spirit of students in India, some private organizations have taken the initiatives. SiliconIndia has launched All India Engineering Project Innovation Contest (AIEPIC, pronounced as eye-pic) which aims to identify, promote and reward outstanding engineering talent across India. 30,000 students have already registered for AIEPIC. What Siliconindia could understand from the 30,000 entries got from the competition is that students do not lack in ideas, but the fact that they don't have a proper system in place to showcase their ideas and enhance it through further research and monetise it

In the long run, it is these initiatives and the support from the Govt. would raise the level of R&D capacities in the country and may also pave the way for the second Google from India.

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Reader's comments(47)
1: Its a right thing that College Automation System now so demand . most are prefer like this software now a days only because of easy and best quality management everything related to college.
Posted by:Temmy liear - 27 Feb, 2012
2: only the education system is not responsible, its what v desire matters
Posted by:sunil - 16 Sep, 2010
3: Best way of laundering money in legal way with government authorization is running Educational institutes. Private institutions are strictly concentrating on money rather than educating students. What makes us sad is, to give best for the child, parents still want to afford when they could not afford. I can really hear the cry of lot more parents. I Leave it to the ministry of education to deal this serious issue. Bringing all colleges into one network and making standardized entrance exam for all over colleges could be one of the solution
Posted by:Madhan - 28 Feb, 2010
4: Hey friends...dont worry...after earning enough...i am going to start an engineering college equiped with latest technologies and that is going to be a top class with free education for the poor people... :)
Posted by:vijay - 26 Feb, 2010
This company is serving your worries.
They try to spread awareness among students and help them build a strong career.
Mukat Replied to: vijay - 28 Feb, 2010
Till U don't start its better to keep ur mouth shut, as it's very serious issue. Ok
Manani Replied to: vijay - 27 Feb, 2010
Just don't say it , validate it. As the Indian engineers are in dire need of "innovation"
ravi Replied to: vijay - 26 Feb, 2010
M sorry........... but do u really mean it?

I heartly congratulate for your ideas. Just keep up the sprit. & all the best wishes.........
Sangeeta Sinha Replied to: vijay - 26 Feb, 2010
Till U don't start its better to keep ur mouth shut, as it's very serious issue. Ok
Manani Replied to: Sangeeta Sinha - 27 Feb, 2010
10: My response below is the factual experience as my son is currently undergoing a BE Mecanical Engg Degree Course in one of the reputed Colleges from Pune in Maharashtra. I too am a Graduate Engineer from Mumbai and I am running a Industry of my own, hence I wish to mention the flwg.
As Indians our Intellectual and Creative Capabilities are much higher than most of the others around the Globe, as we Indians represent the class of ambitious generation. It is very saddening that, though our Engineering Institutions charge heavy Fees + Collect Large Donations, the quality of Teaching Staff and the Study Material + Laboratory equipment + Audio / Video Management Systems employed are dated back and are of such Old generation that, student are unable to cope up with the present technological trends, and when such students come up in the Industry they generate a complex which kills their creative minds & thoughts.Further our Govt has made no provisions wherein Students can become a part of the movement and lead the country in future.
Posted by:C G Pore - 25 Feb, 2010
For sure, there would be so many parents who might be thinking in the same way and it would be great if all those parents come together and tell about their problems on this common platform. We should make these colleges realize that they just charge money to provide degree, not for real knowledge.
gitanjali Replied to: C G Pore - 25 Feb, 2010
12: And yet our hon'ble HRD minister is thinking of starting more IIT's and IIM's instead of spending those efforts in developing the already established ones....
Posted by:praveen - 25 Feb, 2010
well said,,
Hina Replied to: praveen - 25 Feb, 2010
14: ya it is true that, indian students ar nt lacking in inovative ideas but inovative platform. In every states u may find more than 400 colleges in which more than 500 seats in diffrnt branches. Brilliant degree holder move to mnc and remaining that dont get job come to make a career in academics. So talented teachers no there to execute the inovative ideas of students.

So faculty must be knowledgeble and experienced
Posted by:Piyush Mayank - 24 Feb, 2010
15: only rahul gandhi can help us
Posted by:mahatama - 24 Feb, 2010
onu poda
sdfgsg Replied to: mahatama - 05 Mar, 2011
What an idea sirji.
jay Replied to: mahatama - 24 Feb, 2010
18: innovation is hardly known to students.. a large majority of faculty in indian colleges are not qualified for the job.. nor there is quality education.. the quality of student projects in india is well bellow average.. introduce research at bachelors level.. and then we may see some difference.. having taught in some top 10 engg. institutes in india and abroad.. i think the main difference comes merely down to quality of faculty and the freedom given for each faculty to develop research and teaching..
Posted by:ajj - 24 Feb, 2010
Further as far I know, majority of industry jobs in india are not at the level of research at all and doesn't involve futuristic innovations.. in comparisons with that happens in universities, industries as always will not be keen to go that road, simply the cost and time required for quality research is lot.. because industry has to work on new products for today, the level of effort in innovation is limited to the wealth of present day knowledge, and its not feasible for them to expect to think ahead... so in a nutshell, if we want quality innovation, it has to happen at university level.. anything after that will be just a bonus of what you learned and practiced in university..
ajj Replied to: ajj - 24 Feb, 2010
20: Oh :-) !
if indian colleges might hv respected the skills of a student
india would hv already become developed country or
atleast might hv made a milestone like japan etc..

this is the reason why the hell india is suffering even with lots
of brilliant students...
Posted by:km897 - 24 Feb, 2010
M sorry to say that after working with an educational organisation for 19 years , I feel it is the authorities to be blamed for this. Their parametres of evluating the students as well as the academitians are not up to the mark these days.........they are more into business rather den academic context.Untill there is a change in their level of thinking,There is no place for the growth for Nation , reson we our selves are loosing our pearls who cud b the assest for the Country.
Sangeeta Sinha Replied to: km897 - 26 Feb, 2010
22: Its true that Indian engg colleges are in the business of making money .Collges dont have competent faculty to encourage the students to come up with new ideas. the sujects taught in the olleges barely find any existence after the college. Its high time that govt recognises this and tries to make efforts to improve the scenario.
Posted by:mamta - 24 Feb, 2010
23: Its not only the college but the whole Industry that is working on marks,even in companies they see the same criterion for selection or improval.We cant blame only the colleges but the environment that our country has.
Posted by:An Engineer of India - 24 Feb, 2010
Most top companies that really care about skill and are considered tough to get into don't look at marks. Amazon, Google, ThoughtWorks etc. have never asked for marks afaik.
Sidu Replied to: An Engineer of India - 24 Feb, 2010
25: Very true pointers to the reality.

I remember that during engineering, we had about 65 subjects in 8 semesters but hardly TWO good teachers who could answer any question asked (related to the subject but outside the "syllabus").

It is all about marks. I understand that colleges take marks seriously because that's the way they prove themselves better than rival colleges.

But what about companies? How many test how you think rather than testing how many marks you got in your 10th? I know so many people who could not apply for TCS and Infy because they did not have 70% in a previous exam although they had more than 70% in engg. This is the fact.

However, innovation is not something that can come in every day. Making it mandatory for selection or for higher studies is not prudent in my opinion. It will just make people copy innovations from their friends in other colleges, the way people do for their workshop assignments or project works.

What CAN be done is have some credit ready to be given to those few students who innovate. It may be in the form of extra marks, recognition, awards, etc.

And PLEASE start paying teachers well so that the "ranchos" can look forward to building more ranchos in our colleges instead of wasting their time doing coolie work for our "service provider" companies.
Posted by:Kaushik - 24 Feb, 2010
26: I cant dwindle the worthiness of the article by comparing the article with a film. Entire education system should be blamed. We are killing the skills of innovation right from the childhood. The entire society is as such. We just cant blame the engineering colleges. Govt. lacks a vision on how to improve the standards of education. As long as the marks or grades are treated as merit, we cant find any improvement. Just bookish knowledge cant help anyway. Ofcourse it will help a person to get employed somewhere, but he wont be useful anymore for his country. The nation is producing engineers to work for the companies of US or someother nation. Even our IITs/IIScs are not exceptional to it. Beautiful article. Sikta, congrats
Posted by:srinivassuravajhala - 24 Feb, 2010
27: It is just a blame game. Our universities produce engineers, who do
not have any practical skills and the companies hire them and
make them even worse, by giving them the work of X th standard
passed students. This leads to the creation of an army of engineers,
who do not know the work. So, all of them will become managers,
without any working knowledge. This is not a good sign in the long
run, for Inida. India, should concentrate to create engineers, who have working konwledge and managers.
Posted by:Susheela - 24 Feb, 2010
28: ya that is inspired by the three idiots but thats the reality that most f colleges are interested in making money nt in knowledge......
bt what should students do nt every one is BABA RANCHORDAS CHANCHAR
Posted by:ravi - 24 Feb, 2010
29: inspired by 3 idiots film , this articles points to that film
Posted by:abdul - 24 Feb, 2010
I would say it's inspired by real life.
The film was also inspired by real life.
Kaushik Replied to: abdul - 24 Feb, 2010
I agree with that absolutely.
zafir Replied to: Kaushik - 24 Feb, 2010
32: many colleges taking lots of fees but when it time to participate in Any practical Event,they just take them back.i am from College which participate in RoboconIndia every Year the date it is started from.The cost for this event is more than Rs2.5lakhs which is not big amount for college which takes fees more than Rs.5o, college is the Winner of Robocon2004 and represent India in International level .But last to last year one of the senior as the price money that will earn if we win ,but he shocked as there is no price money.And stop participation in tournament.
Its really heart braking for me as we improved practical knowledge from such event,than from books.I thnk govt.should force every college to show index of participating in Tech Events.Other wise cancel there grade and other benefits.
Posted by:Dee - 24 Feb, 2010
33: I think indian comnpanies also do not supprot innovation........they are just for execution purpose......there is also the problem in indian industry ........people in india include lot of work which is not of R&D in the company believes in having a new product of its own....everyone wanst to be a just service provider.........manufacture low cost things....just execute.....thats the biggest problem
Posted by:deepak - 24 Feb, 2010
34: i myself got admitted in a govt engineering college after a tough entrance exam but truly you ask me how much i know of the subject, nill. all were mugged up to get good marks in exam and now after six months all forgotten. the company i work with is no 1 in industry but what it makes an engineer to on spreadsheets. so the major fault is in the employment system for which the whole engineering is concerned, to get job with great package and forget whatever is learned back. if job is the main concern we cant change the whole system all of a sudden. actually the work of R&D is very less in this big market, where truly an engineer is required. all basically needed is cut/copy/paste principle, and so majorly that is taught in college. if a deep knowledge is given, the person will never feel happy with his job, so i think if system is not thorough with deep education its only because no one needs except few. so be with the time, when need will come, process will be developed in time, for necessity is the mother of invention.
Posted by:madhu - 23 Feb, 2010
35: Yes thats true that college are running behind students to secure well but What you will say to the companies who also look forward to hire a candidate secured good marks? Don't you think that corporates are also responsible for this spree. Its always believed that people good at marks only grab the good job opportunities.
We must try to alter the hiring philosophy and inclination towards marks must be reduced down by analyzing the intelligence in the person.

Posted by:Rashi - 23 Feb, 2010
Very well pointed out.
I remember when cognizant came to our campus, they gave us an aptitude test like most companies. But when the results were announced, it was very clear to us that they had selected people for the next round based on their percentages.
They could have simply spared us the ordeal.

Even Infosys and TCS - two leading Indian IT companies - require you to have minimum 70% in your 10th, 12th AND each semester of engineering. What kind of a criterion is this?

Obviously, the colleges also follow the same line. I would blame the companies more than the colleges. I am still slightly thankful to the colleges that at least they have SOME teachers and help us get a degree and arrange for campus interviews.
Kaushik Replied to: Rashi - 24 Feb, 2010
37: It all depends on the quality of Engineering Institutions. There are many Engineering Colleges where Innovations are encouraged and guided. Faculty also work with students in innovative projects.

Are not many engineering student's designs won International and National recognition? I myself guided many Engineering Students in Innovative project designs. In many cases the individual who goes to the Institute that matters most.

Oflate many engineering Colleges conduct paper presentation and Exhibition of Innovative designs.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP)
Posted by:Dr.A.Jagadeesh - 23 Feb, 2010
38: yes i do agree, even our parents a big roll also but we the new generation should bring the change
Posted by:syed - 23 Feb, 2010
39: Yes, I do agree that engineering college kills the spirit of innovation among students. Normally, Engineering colleges consider 6 months as a semester, out of this 6 months students get 3 months for theory classes, and remaining 1 month for exam preparation(Study Leave), 1 month for conducting exams and 1 month vacation. So With this short span of time students have to undergo a lot of pressure to clear almost 8 subjects each semester, so under this immense pressure students will not only get time to exhibit there innovative spirit but they will totally forget that they are engineers and still feel that they are PUC students and have to clear engg exams with good percentage to get selected in campus interviews.. I think Indian Engineering Education system will no way encourage spirit of innovation among students. However, engg colleges are one of the legal way for govt to make money...So that It can produce corrupt ministers as they are...
Posted by:Srinivas B N - 23 Feb, 2010
40: Its true .... some one need to bring the change
Posted by:bopse - 23 Feb, 2010
41: Yes, the colleges do kill the innovation. The Indian engineers are just restricted or forced to follow the age old track of colleges to get higher marks.
Posted by:ravi - 23 Feb, 2010
yes indian colleges are just like marks bank
deepak Replied to: ravi - 23 Feb, 2010
43: o i just dont agree that they kil innovation. it depends on coll
Posted by:gunjan - 23 Feb, 2010
Yes Ravi, It does. But we can't say that our colleges kill, but the system we follow, kill the initiative of students to think in that direction.
hariom Replied to: gunjan - 23 Feb, 2010
This is true for any engineering student in India. One who works hard to score marks is a brilliant student(even he mugs up). The ones who work to understand the subject and the real purpose of his course is seen as a stupid(or idiots). everyone needs marks from our parents,lecturers,profs and the companies.
Even some students really like just scoring marks than scoring. I jus feel they are virus amongst us as their presence corrupts others minds too..
Still its upto us to decide which path we got to choose. our path might be difficult but it has its worth.
The companies has done only one good thing that's to provide lot of jobs. They never want a R&D as it costs more and bit risky. They are always service providers and want to remain so.
Not only Engineering, it remains the same for Bsc also.
I've seen guys with Bsc degree working in an IT company.
Madhevan Replied to: hariom - 24 Feb, 2010
I strongly believe in open education system. The government should encourage everyone open university system which has latest cutting edge skills and that will delivery to industrial needs and also for R & D. I am working as faculty in engineering college, there is huge pressure from the university. the aim of students is 100% pass. the aim student is to score marks. we as faculty can't make any difference bcos we don't have freedom.the present system is a closed education system. we can't bring any changes to it(no innovative engineers).by the way if we can develop a strong open system and market it properly thought the country. The less fortunate which is a majority of 80% human resource who can't afford to join any regular universities due to money can be utilized very well.

The advantages of Open University:

Can have freedom to design syllabus according to the industrial needs and bring innovation

Can generate creative engineers/students.(who are broad minded)

Money is not the criteria but what matters is the quality.

Once they (students) come out of this open system, they think innovatly so as to how better they can help country. they don’t relay on on campus jobs but have guts to face real work and can work for the job which they like.
umesh Replied to: Madhevan - 24 Feb, 2010
our engg.syllabus is good but the chances of specialization and practices of his/her desired field or subject is restricted in present system bcoz of many factors such as political,regional,parental support etc.if this can overcome with open system that's a good move
bins Replied to: umesh - 25 Feb, 2010