The initiatives by this community college near Chennai, promise to produce more associate engineers from among the urban and rural poor.

K. Vasanth loves to fly. It’s an ambition he has been dreaming of pursuing since his school days. However, due to personal reasons, Vasanth could not take up aeronautical engineering after completing Class XII. He kept himself engaged by taking up B.A. (Tourism) through the distance mode though a career in the skies is still dear to him.

“Luckily, this August I enrolled for the associate engineering programme in aeronautical engineering and I am hopeful that I can chase my dream to fly a jet, airbus…,” he says.

Vasanth is among the 40 students who are pursuing the two-year associate B.E./B.Tech degree at Sri Krishna Community College in Panapakkam, near Padappai.

From reasons such as financial problems, crossing the age limit, to other personal grounds, there are many in the batch who could not take up a professional course. But, programmes like these offered as part of the community college initiative come as a ray of hope, especially for those who are keen on getting an engineering degree later.

The national-level community college concept initiated by the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) is an “alternative system of education” where it facilitates skill development leading to employment, especially to aspirants from economically weaker sections of society.

IGNOU recently recognised Sri Krishna Community College, run by the Sri Krishna Educational Trust, in Chennai to offer a two-year associate B.E./B. Tech degree in various streams in engineering and technology, the first such programme being offered by an Indian college.

Students or college dropouts with a pass percentage in Plus Two, with Mathematics as main, are eligible for the programme.

The branches offered are Computer Science and Engineering, Electronics and Communication Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Aeronautical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Production Engineering, Information Technology, Fashion Technology and Textile Technology.

“The programme offers both practical and theoretical knowledge such that students get as much exposure what an engineering college can equip them with,” says P. Ananthakrishnan, Principal, Sri Krishna Community College.

The curriculum is based on a credit system, where students are evaluated on assessments and an examination conducted by IGNOU. “A total of 32 credits and 40 per cent marks must be obtained by a student to get the associate degree,” he says.

With their vocational skills, students could seek employment, or those keen on continuing studies can get a lateral entry into the third year of a regular engineering college, and thus get a B.E. degree, adds the principal.

The annual fee for the programme is Rs. 20,000 and the next batch starts from January 2010.

For more details on the programme, call 044- 2719 0026, 2714 5508 or 98417 96896.