Passion is the key to unleashing the success potential of any venture. It also holds true for engineering studies. A faculty driven by passion and dedication can spark the academic interest of an impassive student. Designing customised problems or worksheets for students is the need of the hour to test their understanding to topics and prod them to think about the concepts from an application point of view. Student attention can be consolidated and interest in engineering studies can be generated through the assignment of project work.
For sustained interest, engagement with the subject is essential. Faculty should encourage students to do mini projects covering more than one subject in each academic year. Students should also be provided by advanced lab (necessary) facilities to understand the practical dimensions of the subject. This facilitates greater student engagement with technical subjects and helps develop a culture of thinking and experimentation. This also allows for broader peer interaction and communication skills improvement along with enhanced collaboration with team members. An advanced technical facility in the form of a Tinkerer’s Lab (TL) in our institute has fostered deeper subject understanding. The TL concept allows students in the software sector to participate in case study competitions and coding skill competitions and enhance their technical skills. Smart India Hackathon is a laudable initiative by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), which has given opportunities to students to work in teams and suggest innovative solutions to resolve the problems faced by the government departments.
A sustained interest in engineering courses can be generated through this unique experiential learning method. Medical students have compulsory “clinics” session as part of their academic curriculum, where they assist house surgeon and doctors, in recording patient’s histories and creating surgery logs. The process provides them with a practical understanding of routine patient procedures and subject specialities, even as they are undergoing the study of their curriculum. They also get much-needed exposure to diverse branches of medicine like surgery, pediatrics and gynecology. Law courts also facilitate a better understanding of legal terminologies and court procedures through exercises like moot courts and law clinics. Such practices help students identify their academic strengths, work hard on their weaknesses and develop a sustained career path. Compulsory internships in industries helps students gain a holistic overview of the subject. However, the solution may prove to be untenable considering the fact that the number of engineering aspirants is high. A viable solution would be for institutes to tie up with local industries and give maximum internships to students. AICTE is trying to help in this direction through the board of apprenticeship training (BoAT).
In addition to this, students who are interested in becoming entrepreneurs can be encouraged to do internships in startup companies.
(The writer is principal of VES Institute of Technology)