EDUCATION PLUS

Infosys connects with campuses

TALENTED ENGINEERING graduates from colleges across the country will now have access to the same "Foundation Course" that fresh recruits undergo at Infosys Technologies, the Bangalore-based IT services company. And, their professors will get a shot at sabbaticals at Infosys, giving them the much needed first hand experience of what the industry looks for, in fresh recruits.

With an initial investment of Rs. 10 crores, Infosys has started Campus Connect, at the heart of which is a new portal, campusconnect.infosys.com, through which students can access all the modules of the firm's foundation course, download projects and participate in discussions, to "get an integrated view of software engineering and IT at the end of it," the firm's top people say.

Infosys, which says it spends up to Rs. 2 lakh in preparing each fresh recruit to work on its projects, says Campus Connect was an effort to bridge a "quality gap" between what the industry expected and what universities produced. Mohandas Pai, the firm's chief finance officer, who is also Campus Connect's "Board Level Sponsor," said if the programme worked, it could as much as halve the initial investment the firm made on each fresh recruit.

"However," Mr. Pai stressed, "no student is obligated to join us simply because he takes the course, nor will that institute do us any favours." M.P. Ravindra, a vice-president at Infosys and head of its education and research department, said some eight modules of the foundation course were already up on the portal.

"At Infosys," Dr. Ravindra said, "the foundation course takes three-and-a- half months." If recruits happened to be among those who diligently cleared the course while in college, "those three-and-a-half months could be knocked off from their training." The participating colleges will decide how the courses were administered, "in alignment with their own curriculum," he said.

This means, the course probably take longer for college students to finish, running as it does concurrent to their regular engineering course. Ramesh Babu, a group manager who was coordinating Campus Connect, said "taking the course does not exempt a student from entry requirements, should he choose to apply to Infosys." The course will integrate learning with practical skills and teach professional skills to compete in the global market place — teamwork, project management, cross-functional networking and effective communication, Dr. Ravindra said. It will equip graduates not just in subjects such as computer science and software engineering but also help them apply their learning in professional situations. For this, Infosys will make available industry-oriented topics and courseware for industry- specific subjects.

Participating institutes will have to sign a memorandum of understanding with Infosys, saying that they will commit the required resources to the programme, develop an action plan to implement Campus Connect in their institute, identify a team of faculty members for it and send professors to Infosys who will act as a anchors for the course, he said.

Campus Connect is targeted at sixth semester students of any engineering stream. They will however have to go through their colleges to participate. Registration can be done on the portal, http://campusconnect.infosys.com. While the programme has started with 30 colleges and universities, "we certainly expect to get serious response from more," said K. Dinesh, a co-founder and board member of the firm.

Some of the participating institutes are Banaras Hindu University Institute of Technology, College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneshwar, Manipal Institute of Technology, Malaviya National Institute of Technology, Jaipur, Motilal NIT, Allahabad, National Institute of Engineering, Mysore, Osmania University, Hyderabad, PES Institute of Technology, Bangalore, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala and Vivekananda Education Society Institute of Technology, Mumbai.

HARICHANDAN A.A.

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