Often, what one studies in college is obsolete and never relevant when one goes to work. This concern, prevalent especially with regard to engineering curriculum, is all set to be addressed now.

Starting this June, students in over 300 engineering colleges across the State will have to study subjects such as cloud computing, Big Data, data analytics and social media techniques, among other futuristic technologies which are extensively used in IT companies but are not part of engineering curriculum.

This has been initiated by ICT Academy of Tamil Nadu, a government-run agency that runs programmes to enhance the employability of college students, with help from the industry. The organisation with the help of EMC IT solutions, a leading provider of IT services, will impart over 40 hours of training in futuristic technologies to students.

Last year, when Anna University revamped its syllabus, experts expected it to be updated with current subjects. But only a few electives on upcoming technologies were offered and that too only for last-year students.

“In most private colleges, teachers barely have the time to pursue research activities due to teaching and administration work. A teacher hardly publishes one paper in three years. Hence, there is not much that they know beyond their regular theory subjects,” said R. Arumugham, a senior professor.

Students as well as teachers will be trained under this programme.

“Cloud computing can no longer remain just a buzz word as it is being used extensively in the industry today,” said Krishna Kant, head, EMC Academic Alliance. “Organisations invest a lot in hardware and servers but when it comes to computer power, the utilisation is just about 60 per cent. Pooling these resources to be shared by companies is being seen as very effective and economical,” he added.

Additionally, students will be trained in concepts of Big Data and data analytics which will help them store and deal with a humongous amount of information. “A lot of government projects such as UID, employment exchange programmes or National Population Register require strategic management of data. Also, we are looking at training students on backup, recovery, security of data and quality management which are not part of engineering curriculum today,” Mr. Krishna Kant said.

According to B. Anbuthambi, associate vice-president of ICT Academy, most institutions have been supportive of the courses. “Often, the people who design courses and those who teach them know little about the industry. Hence, graduates spend a lot of time learning new technologies once they start working. But, now even colleges understand that companies want candidates who know about contemporary technologies.”

The academy also aims to teach at least 1,500 teachers this year who can take the expertise to the institutions. Colleges such as Rajalakshmi group of institutions, PSG College, Thiagarajar College besides universities such SRM University and VIT University have already started training the first batch of teachers.

The new courses will be application-oriented and introduced in the fifth semester, after the students have acquired a basic knowledge of servers, operating systems and databases.

Nearly 120 engineering colleges already have programmes run by leading IT companies but most of them are centred on their products and processes. This is the first time, over 5,000 students will study uniform subjects on futuristic technologies.

Senior professors feel this is a welcome step, but say care should be taken to ensure that the skills are not imparted at the cost of basic engineering subjects.

“The basics of engineering will never change. Industry intervention needs to be at a minimum on campuses because it might lead to monopolisation by a company,” said a professor.

More In: Chennai | News