The Mahindra group, in collaboration with Ecole Centrale, Paris, and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University will set up the Mahindra Ecole Centrale in Hyderabad. K. Hariharan, who recently took over as a Professor in the department of creative sciences, speaks to Shubashree Desikan about the philosophy and programmes offered and the role of the Creative Sciences faculty.

What are the things the college will bring to students that are new and useful?

Mahindra Ecole Centrale is a collaboration of Mahindra group with Ecole Centrale Paris, which is the national engineering college of Paris, and Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU), Hyderabad. There will be four streams: Civil, Mechanical, Electrical and Electronics and Computer Science, but the system makes sure that the student knows a bit of everything before specialising. Students pass out with a B.Tech and an integrated MTech degree.

Every student will spend time at foreign universities. Ecole Centrale has tie-ups for this with 126 colleges around the world, including in places like China, Europe, USA etc. Students will spend the ninth semester there.

What will be the role of the Department of Creative Sciences?

The Department of Creative Sciences will at the outset get the students to see the connection between a. Natural Sciences; b. Creative Sciences; c. Technological Sciences and d. Management Sciences. In the area of creative sciences we will see how ‘creative’ artists and society have interacted/cohered with each other through literature, music, dance, painting etc in order to see the various synergies happening between societal forces and technological developments, often thrust into one’s life. Yet people have learnt to accept it or worked actively to reject it too. Imagine studying a film like Chaplin’s “Modern Times” or Dickens’ ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ or Gulzar’s modernist poems to understand the context.

Will the students be examined in the above courses?

Of course, there will be standard textbooks and assigned film viewings on which they will have to write assignments, debate in conferences and make competent short films also. There will also be a mandatory French language and culture course.

The slightly long-term goal is to develop a full-fledged Digital Media Technology department with a proper course structure, syllabus, labs and faculty specifications.

Is there only a five-year M.Tech programme on offer? Will admission to the programme be based on the JEE (Main) score? How much will school marks matter?

At the outset there is only a compulsory integrated programme lasting five years offering both a B.Tech and an M.Tech, to match with the qualification system offered by Ecole Centrale. Every student should have cleared his or her JEE Main which makes them fit for the IITs or NITs. They may start applying earlier and keep their options open. Since all applications are only happening online, they can go in and update it as much as they want till the closing date.

When will the full strength of faculty be recruited and when will the first batch begin their classes?

The first classes for Batch 1 will start on August 4. And the full faculty strength should be in place by May end.

You mentioned that bank loans are guaranteed for the students. Would you elaborate on this and the fee structure?

Every student who gets an admission is guaranteed a bank loan if they do not have the financial capacity. These loans are repayable 5 years after they graduate. Most importantly every graduating student is assured placement by MEC in some organisation or the other, in India or abroad. The Mahindra Group is large enough to absorb the graduates and will ensure that no student is left behind!

Please give us an idea of the fee structure and the number of seats.

The fee for the course will be about Rs. 4 lakh per annum and students are sure to get loans repayable five years after graduation. In total, there will be 180 seats in all for Indian students (60 each for Computer Science and Mechanical and 30 each for Civil and Electronics) and 27 seats for foreign students. The student-teacher ratio will be 10:1.