Indian faculty is good at theory but doesn't have the exposure to relate theory to practice and application, according to Prof. Krishna Vedula.
Indian engineering education suffers from quality with less than 25 per cent of students actually termed employable by different agencies including the NASSCOM reports. But the Andhra Pradesh government has recently admitted that not more than 10 per cent of engineering graduates are actually employable and in fact, constituted a committee of senior academics to suggest measures to improve employability.
But the problem lies not with the students but in the teaching methods, feels Krishna Vedula, a Professor of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, USA.
Agreeing that Indian students are brilliant, Prof. Vedula says it is time to concentrate on improving teaching methods for better delivery of education. After all, creating quality engineers is important to find solutions to the global challenges facing humanity such as energy, environment, health and communications.
As a teacher who understands the importance of teaching, he feels that to keep the student's interest in the classroom and thereby in the subject, it is necessary to make the lecture interesting. And there are proven methods and strategies that are adopted across the developed countries. To bring these techniques into India for improving teaching standards in engineering, Prof. Vedula with the help of several teachers and institutions started the Indo US Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE) in 2007.
The response has been encouraging and growing since then. In the first year 25 U.S. experts conducted workshops for 600 Indian faculty at Infosys campus in Bangalore. In the second year also 25 experts from USA conducted workshop for another 600 faculty. The 1,200 faculty from India have gone back and given workshops to other faculties and impacted more than 3,000 faculty and one lakh students in the last two years.
Infosys bore the expenses for training in the initial years and Prof. Vedula says it was time colleges shared the expenses as they benefitted from the programme. In the third year the IUCEE built a consortium of 22 colleges all over India and 37 workshops were conducted covering 1,128 Indian faculty.
He says these faculties will continue to be mentored by U.S. faculty so that they can improve the learning outputs of students in their colleges. The focus, Prof. Vedula says is on practical training. He feels Indian faculty is good at theory but doesn't have exposure to relate theory to practice and application.
The advantage is that core engineering curriculum is virtually the same all over the globe. US professors are good at engaging students through their lectures and these skills are being passed on to India teachers.
Some of the key strategies include making students participate and infusing team work where students are made to work in groups to find solutions.
The exponential growth of engineering colleges has also led to shortage of good teachers. Colleges are forced to recruit teachers without Ph.D. Such teachers are bound to lack not only teaching skills but also subject knowledge, feels Prof. Vedula, who was in India recently to participate in workshop organised at Shri Vishnu Engineering College for Women, Bhimavaram, West Godavari. But he sees a positive change in near future with more and more colleges showing interest.