A recent survey shows that core engineering skills were found to be lacking among majority of tier 2,3 and 4 colleges, writes R. RAVIKANTH REDDY

Is engineering course just turning out to be a degree rather than learning engineering? Though it may sound harsh the academic atmosphere in engineering colleges and the performance of students in the course as well as the placements certifies it to a bit. To describe the four-year course, one may say the first two years are like picnic while the students wake up in the third year only to find that they can just prepare to pass the course in the fourth year rather than equip themselves with the core engineering skills and other industry-related skills to prove themselves as engineers. Of course, this may not apply to all but this is possibly true for nearly 70 per cent of students.

Tougher the subjects more failures of students are being recorded in both the employability surveys and academic record of students tracked by the respective universities. A recent survey by PurpleLeap, an HR company that is also into training, showed that core engineering skills were found to be lacking among majority of tier 2,3 and 4 colleges contrary to the popular belief that communication is the biggest problem for employability.

The biggest gap area was Analytical Ability (Subset of generic ability and measures logical and analytical reasoning). It is surprising since engineers are expected to have strong analytical skills due to their proficiency in mathematics. State students were found to be far below than other states’ students when it came to generic ability and technical skills scoring just 34 and 33 per cent respectively. And this was among those who scored more than 60 per cent. One can imagine about others. In core engineering subjects like Mechanical and Electrical Engineering where the stress is on Mathematics and Physics their performance seems to be very poor compared to subjects like Computer Science Engineering. The PurpleLeap survey shows that only 27 per cent Mechanical students and 33 per cent EEE students were found good enough while the number rose to more than 35 per cent among the Computer Science students. The same reflects even in the colleges.

The exam records show that majority of students fail in the EEE stream in all the JNTUs. In JNTU Kakinada the 2012 year results reflect that only 65 per cent students passed in EEE while the passes were 81.97 in ECE, 83.7 in Computer Science, 83.17 in Civil and 80.71 in IT. That the first two years of course are taken easy by the students also reflects in the pass percentages. In the JNTU Hyderabad, where more than 300 engineering colleges are affiliated, the pass percentage of students who joined in the year 2007-08 shows that only 30.15 per cent students passed in their first year and the same rose to 44.35 when they moved to first semester of second year. Pass percentage increased to 51.41 per cent in the second semester of second year and it was around 50.23 in the first semester of third year. In the second semester of third year it increased to 58.01 per cent.

The same group secured 65.69 passes in the first semester of fourth year and in the final exams the same rose to 85.74 per cent. The JNTUH Registrar, N.V. Ramana Rao says that students take the first year easy as they enjoy the suddenly acquired freedom and it carries into second year. By third year they realise the situation and gear up in the final year. The results are high in final year as majority of students work hard to clear the exams, and in the end they just get an engineering degree. But those performing well right from the first year are the ones who get picked up in the campus placements as the companies take the academic track record quite seriously.Moreover, these students not only acquire core domain skills but also other soft skills participating in technical seminars, workshops and other academic events.