Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Technical education for a better tomorrow

Engineering education is an activity of learning the basics of technological innovations that are supported by scientific experiments and mathematical concepts. Engineering education is further classified into various branches of study based on their applications. India is one of the largest producers of engineering graduates in the world. In India, there are about 3,500 engineering colleges with a sanctioned yearly intake of about 14.5 lac students. All the engineering institutions are under the purview of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), New Delhi. Most of the Institutes are affiliated to State Universities with autonomous or non-autonomous status. There are a few institutes which are deemed to be universities and a couple of them are National Institutes.

The quality of the teaching-learning process followed in many institutes is even certified to the ISO standards through the ISO agencies. National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) is a national body which accredits institutes and universities based on various parameters. National Board of Accreditation (NBA) is another agency which accredits different programs run by an engineering institute. MHRD has started an exercise of rating the institutes at the National level based on some standard parameters and stakeholder surveys. All these accreditations, rankings and certifications will help the students in assessing the quality of education offered at the institute.

In this ever-evolving world, innovations are mainly in the technological domain. This has created the need for more skilled people and generated good job opportunities. The recent technological developments, especially the increasing computing powers and the declining costs of computing and storage devices along with commercial internet and communication breakthroughs have deconstructed several value chains and opened a new era of information/knowledge economy. The higher education, in general, and technical education, in particular, is responsible for preparing the next generation technocrats, business leaders, government executives, and educators to embrace these disruptions in technology. Engineering education plays a pivotal role in building knowledge-driven societies.

In technical education, each branch of engineering has its own significance and importance from the job and research perspective. Civil, mechanical, Electrical & Electronics, Electronics & Communication, Computer Science & Engineering, Information Science & Engineering, Biotechnology, Chemical engineering are some of the well-accepted and traditional branches of engineering studies in India. There are more than 250 approved engineering programs given in the list prepared by AICTE. However, computation is a part of every engineering branch. Computers have become an integral part of all professions. This may be in the form of design and drawing for civil engineering structures; machine, automotive and aero designs in mechanical engineering domain; biological data analysis and bioinformatics in bio-technology field; embedded systems, IoT for electrical and electronics engineers and so on. Information & Communication Technology (ICT) also find its application in the medical field. A Computer and Information Science engineering student is skilled in developing the software application as a solution to meet the requirements of these domains. In the current context, to cope with the ever-changing computational field, teachers are also required to possess the skill to deliver the contents to students through lecture videos, demonstrations and active learning labs.

As an application of computation technology, smart vehicles, smart homes and smart machines are being designed and developed. These are entities that embody some intelligence within them and require less human intervention. Smart lights and smart TVs are already in the market. Many vehicles are equipped with smart systems for security and navigation. Bringing these features in the lower end vehicle is under research. All these technological innovations are immediately reflected in the curriculum of the institution and the students will be trained in these technologies to make them industry-ready during their study. Inputs on emerging trends like the Internet of things (IoT), Machine learning, Robotics, Smart materials are provided to the engineering students to keep them ready to embrace jobs which come up in these domains. Access to the additional resources like NPTEL, Coursera and other MOOC (Massively Open source Online Courses) are made available in the college campus to enable interested students to explore the ocean of knowledge in their area of interest.

An extension of computer technology is data science. Data science is a technology to analyse the huge amount of data and draw conclusions as a result of computational algorithms applied to the data. Weather forecasting, social media data analysis, satellite image processing, internet fraud detection are the application of data analytics and data science. Many software industries are working on developing applications to solve the day to day problems using data science. Subjects like machine learning and artificial intelligence enable students to take up projects on face recognition, mask detection, detection of social distancing, detections of plants and related diseases, supporting tools for the visually impaired by detecting the object in front of them, applications of natural language processing.

Computer Communication is an ever-changing and challenging field. This deals mainly with the methodologies that are used by the two devices to communicate with each other. In the present world of the internet, there can be no device without a communication capability. Smart bulbs, smart TV and other IoT devices are coming to the forefront. Conventional computer communication protocols are the backbones of these advanced communication methods. Wired and wireless communications are being used by computing systems. An ad-hoc communication network is a new trend with the inventions of mobile and wireless devices. 4G and 5G networks have added many functionalities and advantages to the communication networks. Many researchers are working in the domain of communication to improve performance. Many industries which are pioneers in communication technologies are hiring graduates to work on these cutting edge technologies. Being an entrepreneur is the dream of every engineering graduate. The engineering institutes should facilitate this by providing an entrepreneurship echo space or through the incubation cell to start and nurture their startup idea. Entrepreneurs should be invited to share their rich experience of building an enterprise, with the students.

Preparedness of NMAMIT, Nitte
NMAM Institute of Technology, Nittean ISO 9001:2015 certified institution, is a pioneer in engineering education and offers BE degree programs in seven engineering branches - Biotechnology, Civil, Computer Science, Electrical & Electronics, Electronics & Communication, Information Science and Mechanical. The Institute also offers a master’s degree (MTech, MCA and MBA) and PhD programs. National Institution Ranking Framework (NIRF) is an initiative from MHRD, Government of India to rank the institutions based on various evaluation parameters. The institute has been ranked at 128th position on NIRF in 2019. The institute is accredited with A grade by NAAC and all its undergraduate programs are NBA accredited. The MBA program is accredited by ACBSP. The Institute has received QSI-GAUGE Diamond ranking in 2019 and has received the E-LEAD certificate from QSI-GAUGE in 2020.

Keeping the industry requirements in mind, NMAMIT offers updated and industry-relevant subjects to its students. Being academically autonomous under VTU Belagavi, the college has the flexibility to advance the course contents as per the changing technological needs. The amalgamation of a strong base of technology and expertise in the emerging fields creates skilful engineering graduates. This is reflected in the excellent placement statistics of the institution. Every year more than 80 companies visit NMAMIT for placement and the college gets more than 700 offers for the students across all branches of engineering. The salary offers were up to Rs 24 lac per annum.

NMAMIT has successfully established a good relationship with five companies in Japan for pre-placement internships. The students are paid by the companies during their internship and thereafter absorbed by them. Academic collaboration with the Japanese universities enables the students interested in research to work on research projects in Japan, with all expenses met. This collaboration has led to the publication of quality research papers by the engineering students. Having a paper to their credit is an added advantage for students seeking higher education in various universities abroad.

Due to the rise in demand for Artificial Intelligence professionals, NMAMIT has introduced a new BE degree program in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) this year. As an academic discipline, AI holds the future. Its importance will only grow in the years to follow. The objective behind offering this course is to develop professionals who are skilled in the area of AI & ML. AI is an area of Computer Science that attempts to build systems that have intelligent behaviour. Applications of AI range from smart controllers for house-hold devices to computers that can play games, conduct intelligent web searches and act as the brain of a robot. It can solve complex problems efficiently in various areas, such as finance, education, healthcare entertainment and tourism. Being a NAAC accredited institute, NMAMIT practices outcome-based education.

All BE courses are designed by giving importance to both academic and skill-based education to create a bright future for the students. The BE degree program in AI and ML equips students with skills necessary to analyse, design and control complex intelligent systems. It starts with a few mandatory courses that provide a solid foundation in the area of AI, as well as Computer Science in general. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning program will enable students to gain an in-depth understanding of fundamental subjects and will cover technologies like Image Processing, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Neural Networks, Deep Learning, Reinforcement Learning, Big Data Analytics. This program is important because many companies use these technologies to improve their business, enhance their decision-making process and evaluate business models. Graduates will possess computer science skills with added expertise in AI & ML, that will be required to build AI applications of tomorrow. They will have excellent career prospects in IT industry and beyond. They can secure roles not only as Software Engineers but also as data or business analyst in the financial sector. This course is relevant to many emerging fields and will continue to remain relevant in the future.

Computer and Communication Engineering is another BE program that will be started at NMAMIT this year. It is designed to provide expertise to those students who seek specialization in Computer Communication Technologies & Telecommunications. The focus of the program is on Computer Networks (Wired & Wireless) and Telecommunications technologies. The course also covers subjects in computer science, cloud computing, multimedia communications and big data analytics. A strong emphasis is placed throughout the course on developing practical skills and in-depth knowledge that is required by today’s industries. The students can engage in research, focusing on the fusion of multi-disciplinary skills employed in designing modern computing devices with communication channels, communication systems with advanced computer algorithms and systems. There is a huge demand for network professionals and a large number of NMAMITians are already placed in companies focused on network technologies like Nutanix, Broadcom, Cisco, Wipro, Akamai, VMWare, Crowdfire, Sony, Phillips, HCL, Alcatel, Informatica, Dell EMC, Juniper, TEK Systems, Texas, Sonata, Cohesity. NMAMIT has aligned its activities keeping in mind the developments likely to take place in the future.

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