ACADEMICS

Problems in Engineering Education

Almost every engineering student would complain about this. And sadly, it is true, no matter how many people come out as engineers today, we know the education provided to them is not up to the mark. So, what went wrong? Why do get Trained and not Educated?

Number of Students:

Frankly speaking, the number of students studying engineering is huge. The main reason why most students opt for engineering is brainwashing (which is sad). They face compulsion in believing the fact that it is the only way. A large number of students means difficulty in management. This also causes other problems like difficulty is teaching, individual development, managing students, placing them in jobs. And you would rarely see people openly wanting to teach in colleges in the first place. They always opt for a job.

The sad thing about this is that we judge our nation by the quantity of how many engineers graduate every year. This is nothing to be proud of if most of them are not productive and do not know or understand what the actual course had taught. It is a fact that sheer amount of students that graduate every year is even more than population of some countries.

Student to Teacher Ratio:

As mentioned above, there are rarely any students who would willingly opt for teaching after engineering. And I get it, it is their personal choice. But given the ratio between students and teachers, we can see where things are getting out of hand.

In an average college, the number of student intake per stream is usually a 120 students for a year. Given two classes, 60 students in each class. The number of teachers is less when compared to the 120. Given the number of academic years, semesters and students, a teacher teaches totally 3 subjects per semester across all years. This means 6 subjects per year over 120 students. This increases the workload of a teacher.

Poor/Lack of Resources:

A fair amount of blame also goes to the lack of infrastructure. Many colleges lack appropriate labs or workshops Some colleges do not even have specific labs. These labs enable direct learning but are not available everywhere. The teaching happens via computer simulation in many cases. This also gets worse. A fact, mentioned earlier that technology is growing at a very fast pace. However, the current engineering courses still teach us technologies that is decades old. As an engineer I can vouch of the study. As based upon that technology, today’s technology exists. But the issue is the main focus is on older technologies.

When students learn from computer simulations, they do not gain as much practical knowledge as they should. They do not actually see the process happening only the end result and the graph. AICTE (All India Council of Technical Education) dictates some labs to be necessarily present for the course, but even then, the number of machines or equipment per student is less. Many teachers are not familiar with new equipments, if provided. There is minimal effort to train the teachers for it. Many of the colleges cannot maintain equipments as there is no one to maintain it.

Universities:

Ask this question to any student who is studying, ask him/her about how he/she feels about the university. I totally can guarantee the fact that everyone will have negative responses. Some students may even curse or swear. And why shouldn’t they? Time and time again cases emerge where a student gets a KT (Keep Test: failing in exam, allowing students to keep the test to pass in next semester) undeservedly, which when re-evaluated, gets great marks. Universities lobby a lot of money in re-evaluation, the paper correction organization is really poor. If you need to get a mark-sheet, updated after the re-evaluation clears your KT, then you need to go for a deep hassle. Every procedure of university takes unreasonable amount of time. Even the normal exam results come very late and are too unclear to understand. Here are some more core issues that the university creates.

Unchanged Courses:

We all know this for a fact. We often complain that we study ancient technology, work with outdated equipments and hence do not get enough exposure to the world of today. Technology is changing faster than it did ever before, the engineer is responsible to use technology in a way that benefits people. But if you teach us things that are no longer in use in the industry, then why teach them in the first place. The course almost every time remains unchanged.

No Room For Practicality:

Even if the courses are up to the date, the design of courses is such that, there is no room for practicality in the curriculum. You do have practicals of the subjects obviously, but they do not cover real life scenarios in many situations. They are just there to demonstrate the theory. While to see the theory working in front of our own eyes is helpful, understanding it better with real life case studies and scenarios is even more helpful. Sadly the universities do not provide such facilities.

Take the Mumbai university for example. We spend the entire first year in a completely common syllabus to all. As an electronics engineer, I know there is absolutely no need for me to study mechanics and Engineering Drawing as subjects. It has nothing to do with electronics. You can substitute the entire first year and teach some basic subjects that begin in 2nd year. And in the vacant spot of the subjects, teach some practical stuff like repairing and common knowledge of equipment and instruments. Increase the productivity of the children.

Teachers:

Teaching is really difficult and teaching in engineering is even more so. You need to not only focus on students but many teachers are busy in research too. The fact creates problem is that whenever a syllabus change happens, or introduction of new concepts or machines, teachers are not familiar with it. And teachers need to pay out their own pockets for Short Term Training Programs (STTP) to learn these new things. Many teachers do not know how to control a chaotic class and cannot adjust to students. (in most cases like this, students are to blame.)

Many teachers do not have enough qualification, if they have qualification, many of them lack the caliber to teach, and finally if they know hoe to teach, the pay for a teacher is less. It is really hard for a teacher to just get by, without some other sources of income. In many cases teachers take external tuitions forcibly. This creates student bias.

Lack of Jobs and Scope:

The 2nd biggest problem according to me in the education system. Go on and google for engineering jokes, you will surely get memes of people brainwashing children by saying engineering has a lot of scope in future. Yes it is true that engineers can adapt to any job given to them, easier than any other person, it is also a bitter truth that there is proper availability of jobs in the industry in the country. People who do well in the curriculum go abroad for better education and scope, this shows how poor our quality is that students need to settle in other countries as they have better scope of jobs.

Even after doing one of the toughest courses in the country, students forcibly need to opt for MBAs or other post graduate courses, because there is no value of COMMON B.E. anymore.

There is only one fully working commercial Fab-Lab (Fabrication lab, Manufacturing Plant for IC) in the country. Which is a shame, Singapore and Japan commonly manufacture ICs for us. There is a small rise in jobs in telecom industry because of Reliance Jio, but we are still far from making network infrastructures and services like Cisco and HPE. We are way beyond making ICs like Intel and Texas Instruments. And this only covers the core electronic sector.

All this country has in abundance is the service IT sector. Not the development sector. We only provide services via IT firms, we don’t code and develop apps in abundance. Which is a real shame as we outsource our service. There is no creation of things and technology in the country, no company that does so, and no foreign company that intends to open a branch that intends to not have service but development industry. Speaking of Industry….

No Industrial Interaction:

As said earlier, students do not get enough exposure to current technologies as there is facility of teacher training and equipments. If there is more of industrial interaction between colleges and students, we can have a good progress. If there was communication between the two entities, students would know what the latest industrial trends are. They can work upon requirements, even get needful internships and some job experience.

Students’ Attitude:

In the light of truth that all reasons above seem bad, but the biggest reason of why we have a bad engineering education are the students. I am sorry to break your hearts, student feels they are never wrong and are victims of the system (Which they are in a way), but they too are the biggest culprits. Currently, (at the time of writing) I am a student in engineering and also teach fellow classmates and juniors. I have seen first hand, how students are the biggest culprits.

Attitude Towards Job:

Firstly the attitude that students have is that many of them do not want field work to do. After they degree is over they just want to sit in an AC cabin and do a bunch of typing in their jobs. Well if you are not from IT, chances are you will have field work at some point. I have heard complaints from people who are in Civil or Mechanical courses that they DO NOT want to touch machines and work on sites. This is not an attitude of an engineer. You cannot expect some one who is not as educated as you to work with machines and engines. It is your Job, do it.

Method of Study:

Secondly, the way student approaches his/her study. They get easy guides, and refer to just solutions not concepts. Students never go for the core understanding of the principles, they value their grades more than their skill development and excellence in proficiency. They never take the submission workload seriously. My fellow engineering students, hear me out, assignments, journals and tutorials done correctly will cover up almost 70% of your syllabus’ study. ‘If done correctly’. I know, crazy right. Just pay attention next time you write your assignment, even if you are copying someone else’s work. Do not blindly copy, do not refer guides and solution manuals and rattofy. Read proper books.

The Sincerity:

Thirdly, finally and most importantly, we do not or rarely show any form of sincerity in anything. This is obviously a generalization, I know many many students are sincere. We do not pay attention in class, if the class seems boring, we do not bother to take the effort to get it understood from other sources. Students rarely approach teachers with their problems. People and Students who take seminars and workshops on useful and Practical do not get enough attention and many people just leave it. In my opinion if every student even shows 10% more sincerity, we would have much better engineers.

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