Future forward Education

Re-imagining engineering

According to the World Economic Forum, the current Fourth Industrial Revolution is evolving at an exponential pace and heralding the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

Industry 4.0 has thrown up immense opportunities and challenges and we need a suitably trained and diverse workforce to handle and build upon them. Innovation and entrepreneurship are the new mantras and the skill sets necessary for cultivating these have to be ingrained in young professionals, especially engineers.

The engineering education system has to undergo huge changes to keep pace not just with the rapidly evolving ecosystem but also the changing dynamics of social environments and even generational differences. It needs to be an essential and relevant system to ensure that the right competencies are developed and students can be the transformers in a more connected world.

Going forward

So how does one ensure that we are at the beginning of the growth curve? Engineering education needs to have close connections and collaborations with the industry. Renewed focus on research, live projects and an evolving industry-ready curriculum will lead to up-skilling engineering education.

The education system today needs to kindle an unquenching thirst for learning in the students. Students need to be mentored and equipped with the skills to not just be good at their work but also to be able to reskill when necessary on their own. Virtual and remote learning environments need to be created for students to develop competencies in their professional lives.

Engineering education has started to focus on developing new skill sets in emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Machine and Deep Learning, Robotics, Automation, Cloud Computing, BlockChain & IoT, and Lasers and Photonic Technologies, and has been engaging with industry practitioners. The pandemic has moved the goalpost further and forced the educators to come up with effective online delivery mechanisms.

Another important aspect of Industry 4.0 is the requirement for cross-functional roles. Engineering education, therefore, needs to be multi- and inter-disciplinary with a focus on entrepreneurial and innovation-led mindsets.

With technology driving changes in the education system, a future civil engineer may need to know coding. Similarly, an IT engineer may need to know details of production and mechanics to design a system in a factory. Engineering education will need to ensure that this is made possible.

The writer is Vice Chancellor, Mahindra University.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:35:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/engineering-education-has-to-undergo-a-sea-changeto-keep-pace-with-the-rapidly-evolving-ecosystem/article33424908.ece

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