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AICTE Chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe Bats for Full Autonomy to Engineering Colleges

The New Indian Express | By Express News Service | 01st August 2015 | Chennai |

CHENNAI:Sweeping reforms including giving complete autonomy to engineering colleges to facilitate removal of outdated syllabi must be brought to improve the quality of graduate- engineers, said Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman of the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). “India is the only country having such stringent regulations”, pointed out Sahasrabudhe on Friday, while delivering his address during the inauguration of a global summit of engineering Deans, which discussed the current scenario and future prospects of engineering education. Former Tripura, Bihar and West Bengal Governor and educationist DY Patil and chairman of RMK group of institutions RS Munirathnam were part of the inauguration function.

On the curriculum, there could be at least one subject in the course which the student would need to self-learn, Sahasrabudhe suggested. The competition to get an engineering seat had also reduced with as many as eight lakh seats going vacant across the country, he said. “A number of colleges is not able to fill the seats. They don’t have quality faculty as well. There are a few doctorates among professors,” he said, adding that AICTE was conducting regular inspections to weed out such institutes. The number of seats in the current year had reduced by 35,000, he said. Echoing the opinion of industry recruiters on the unemployability of Indian graduate engineers, he suggested an active co-ordination between industry and colleges to resolve this issue. Most graduate-students don’t even have the maths knowledge of class X  students, he remarked. “Every industry-specific skills can’t be incorporated into the curriculum. But general ones like soft skills are a must,” he said, during a later session in the afternoon. The curriculum design could be provided by having a member of the industry on the board of Senate of a university. Industry could also help by bringing in veterans to interact with students and teachers as was being done by BITS Pilani, which conducts talks by Nobel Laureates from Honeywell, a petroleum giant, he added. – Courtesy

“40% engineering seats lying vacant in country”  –  The Hindu | |

Only 14 per cent of graduates are employable, says surveys

At least 40 per cent of seats in engineering courses across the country are likely to remain vacant this year, said Anil Sahasrabudhe, chairman, All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). This situation prevails despite colleges surrendering 35,000 seats before the admission season, he told reporters on the sidelines of a global summit of Indian Engineering Deans’ Council. Dr. Sahsrabudhe agreed that though access and equity had been achieved quality and excellence remained a challenge. The concern about lack of quality faculty was amplified as more than 90 per cent of the intake was in private institutions, Dr. Sahsrabudhe said. “The biggest challenge is that of the 16.75 lakh intake eight lakh seats go vacant,” he said.- Courtesy

New insect-like robot can jump on water : water striders

Press Trust of India  |  Washington  July 31, 2015 |

Researchers have developed an insect-sized robot that mimics a water strider to jump on the surface of a body of water.  Researchers at Seoul National University (SNU) in Seoul, South Korea, Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, and the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, studied a species of semi-aquatic insects called water striders. The water strider, whose legs have slightly curved tips, employs a rotational leg movement to aid its takeoff from the water’s surface, discovered co-senior author Ho-Young Kim, Professor in SNU’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of SNU’s Micro Fluid Mechanics Lab.  Kim, a former Wyss Institute Visiting Scholar, worked with the study’s co-first author Eunjin Yang, a graduate researcher at SNU’s Micro Fluid Mechanics lab, to collect water striders and take extensive videos of their movements to analyse the mechanics that enable the insects to skim on and jump off water’s surface.

By studying water striders in comparison to iterative prototypes of their robotic insect, the team discovered that the best way to jump off of water is to maintain leg contact on the water for as long as possible during the jump motion. Mimicking these mechanics, the robotic insect built by the team can exert up to 16 times its own body weight on the water’s surface without breaking through, and can do so without complicated controls. The robotic insect was built using a “torque reversal catapult mechanism” inspired by the way a flea jumps, which allows this kind of extreme locomotion without intelligent control. It was first reported by study’s co-senior author Kyu-Jin Cho, the study’s co-first author Je-Sung Koh and study co-author Robert Wood in 2013 in the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems. For the robotic insect to jump off water, the lightweight catapult mechanism uses a burst of momentum coupled with limited thrust to propel the robot off the water without breaking the water’s surface. An automatic triggering mechanism, built from composite materials and actuators, activates the catapult. To produce the body of the robotic insect, “pop-up” manufacturing was used to create folded composite structures that self-assemble much like the foldable components that “pop-up” in 3D books. Devised by engineers at the Harvard Paulson School and the Wyss Institute, this ingenious layering and folding process enables the rapid fabrication of microrobots and a broad range of electromechanical devices. “The resulting robotic insects can achieve the same momentum and height that could be generated during a rapid jump on firm ground – but instead can do so on water – by spreading out the jumping thrust over a longer amount of time and in sustaining prolonged contact with the water’s surface,” said Wood. The robotic insect was described in the journal Science.- Courtesy

Will try to match NAAC parameters with international standards: Prof DP Singh, director of NAAC

The Free Press Journal |

Indore : Prof DP Singh, the newly-appointed Director of National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), said that he would get parameters used to assess standards of institutions of higher learning on the lines of the parameters considered by the international assessment agencies for ratings. “NAAC parameters are very different from the ones being considered by the global rating agencies that’s why our institutions do not figure in the list of the top-200 institutions in the world. My focus will be to set standards on the lines of standards considered by the international agencies for rating in the institutions,” Singh told reporters. Singh, who is presently Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya Vice-Chancellor, on Thursday got appointment letter from NAAC. Singh said that he would take up the new assignment in a week or so.

“I will take time to meet Chancellor of the state universities to tender my resignation as VC and in a week assume charge of director of NAAC,” he said. Singh stated that the existing criterions used by the NAAC do not asses quality of teachers of the institute. “I will ensure that the new criterions figure out quality teachers of an institution. Students’ feedback and research work will play a major role in assessment of the good teachers.” On the war-footing exercise undertaken by the NAAC to accredit institutes in the country by year end, Singh said that presently teachers and vice chancellors are pressed into the uphill task for assessing institutes about 37000 colleges and 700 universities. “Because of their regular work, the VCs and the teachers will not be able to carry out assessment exercise in the true spirit. In other countries, private agencies carry out assessment task. We will also try to rope in private agencies into the task of assessment. Their work will be only to visit institutes and assess standards of the institute on the parameters fixed by us. They will submit the report to us and final decision on the accreditation will be ours.” The VC also signaled at setting up regional centres of NAAC on the lines of UGC centres. – Courtesy

UGC asks universities to aid e-panchayat

Pune Mirror | |

Educational institutes excited about chance to help panchayats become adept in technology.

With the Centre pushing forward with the epanchayat project, all universities and colleges in the country have been asked to cooperate with them. The objective is to help equip the panchayats adapt to a modern, computerised society, assisting them with technology for better rural development. Colleges in the city have welcomed the initiative, and are enthusiastic about doing their bit to help society. The e-panchayat project aims to develop a country-wide gram panchayat level data infrastructure to improve service delivery and better governance. Assistance is required from academia in this regard and the University Grants Commission (UGC) had encouraged varsity officials and also colleges to participate in the project. “Panchayati raj institutions can be assisted by the varsity’s geography department for capacity building and handholding. The academia can choose areas of interest for projects and develop readily replicable models. Students should also be encouraged to actively participate in gram sabha meetings and contribute to discussions therein,” said Jaspal Sandhu, secretary of UGC.

Dr Shivraj Kanhale, principal of the Annasaheb Waghire College in Otur, said, “We have already adopted one village where students and academic staff are actively participating in better governance ideals. The initiative will certainly be implemented in our college. We are certain that we will assist not only the village that we have adopted, but also the gram panchayat of Otur. Awareness levels in villages have increased with regards to computerisation and other modern technologies. Help from educational institutes will further enhance this and give them guidance as well.” Dr DK Goturi, principal of the Sanghvi Kesari College, also appreciated the project. “Such assistance from local educational institutions will certainly equip gram panchayats for better governance,” he said. However, while many have expressed enthusiasm about participating in the project, there are those who have questioned its feasibility, saying the plan sounds ideal on paper, but local level collaborations aren’t an easy process, especially given numerous political interventions. “While the initiative is good, it seems better on paper. Reality might be different and tougher. Academic institutes can be of great assistance with the project, but there are numerous hurdles that will need to be crossed,” said Dr Bharat Jinturkar, principal of the KG Katariya College. To name a few, he said, “It firstly takes a lot of effort for the gram panchayat members to be convinced about the need for modernisation and the role of technology in development of a town or village. Many don’t readily agree for interventions from outside. Several times, and especially if the college management doesn’t align politically with the ruling governing body, ego issues and political hassles may derail the whole process,” he added. – Courtesy     –     Published on 29/07/2015, UGC Letter reg.: e-Panchayat

Building an online community building platform for your college

Bangalore Mirror | |

Apart from alumni tracking, this start-up connects students with past pupils to facilitate jobs and internships.
When Rahul Das, Jikku Jolly, Ruby Peethambaran and Shyam Menon met after 10 years at a college reunion in Model Engineering College in Kochi in 2010, they spent a lot of time reminiscing about good old times. In the process, they got talking about how many of them had lost contact with each other over the years. This became the trigger for a start-up idea that eventually materialised in early 2013 when they launched Fourth Ambit, an online community-building platform for schools and colleges. “The idea was to track down past and present students, and engage them with activities at colleges and beyond,” Das, one of the co-founders, says. They were inspired, in part, by one of their college professors who used to keep a meticulous database of students. The unusual name, as Das explains, comes from their belief that relationships with batchmates, friends and colleges are across time. “Generally, the fourth dimension is time, but we believe its relationships.”

While they started out with about 20 colleges in Kerala, in about a year’s time, the portal grew to accommodate 78 colleges, mainly from Karnataka and Kerala. Some of their clientele include the Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode, National Institute of Technology, Suratkal, BMS College of Engineering, MVJ Institute of Technology and Manipal University. They are working on extending the option to schools, and at the moment, they’ve one school on board — Rajagiri School in Kerala.
The portal offers services that range from alumni tracking and enrolment to alumni engagement that help maxmise the potential of the school/college community. They organise webinars through which students and alumni are able to connect with each other. They charge institutions between Rs 50,000 to one lakh for a yearly subscription. Once a client is on board, Das says that they add a personal touch with a manager being assigned to each of the colleges they work with. “It’s not just a portal where the commitment ends once we get colleges on board,” says the 36-year-old. The biggest bottleneck that the team faces is the time taken by the institutions to give their nod. According to Das, college authorities who would prioritise matters like admissions, are beginning to understand the long-term benefits of collecting this kind of data. “Even though institutions take at least four months to close a deal, none of them have declined our offer,” he says. Apart from alumni tracking, Fourth Ambit has used the platform as a mentorship forum connecting past and present students from an institution and facilitating internships. So far, they have aided two-month internships with Wipro. At the same time, they’ve realised that students are showing interest in interning with start-ups in Bengaluru. “Students here have been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug. Start-ups, too, are looking for employees with low labour costs. Recently, we’ve been directing them to such ventures which will help them gain work experience,” he says.

As their start-up gained traction, the founders gave up their respective jobs -Menon was in the US after completing his MS, Jolly and Peethambaran were working as techies and Das was with Hindustan Lever – to work dedicatedly on the site. Moving from a corporate set-up to a start-up has come with its share of responsibilities — the biggest being hiring the right candidates. The 35-member team includes 27 employees in Kochi and eight in their HSR Layout office. “We need to see that the employees share our vision. And that’s the biggest responsibility,” Das says. While they started out of Kochi, Das and Jolly moved to Bengaluru to expand the business. Going forward, Das is keen to bring on board tier-2 and tier-3 colleges. According to him, students in Tumkur and Hassan are not aware of the opportunities the city colleges offer. “For instance, rural students interested in entrepreneurship have no idea that some top management institutions have incubation cells which will help them pursue their business idea,” he says. They’re hoping Fourth Ambit will change all that.- Courtesy   Visit Fourth Ambit

Facebook ready to test giant solar-powered drone (aircraft) for Internet service to remote parts of the world – Aquila

Business Standard | AP  |  Menlo Park (US) | July 31, 2015 |

Aquila, the high-altitude, long-endurance aircraft, which was designed by the company’s UK-based aerospace team, is ready for flight testing, said Jay Parikh, vice-president of Global Engineering and Infrastructure, in a blog post. Photo: Reuters

Facebook says it will begin test flights later this year for a solar-powered drone with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, in the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world. Engineers at the giant social network say they’ve built a drone with a 140-foot wingspan that weighs less than 1,000 pounds. Designed to fly at high altitudes for up to three months, it will use lasers to send Internet signals to stations on the ground. Though Facebook is better known for online software that lets people share news with friends, watch viral videos and view commercial advertising engineers in a unit called the Connectivity Lab are working on a different set of problems. For one thing, they are designing a laser communications system they hope will be accurate enough to hit a target the size of a dime at a distance of 11 miles, said Yael Maguire, director of the unit, which is responsible for drones, satellites and other high-tech communications projects.

“There’s a lot of moving parts here that have to work in concert,” said Maguire, during a press briefing at the company’s headquarters. The project is part of a broader Facebook effort that also contemplates using satellites and other high-tech gear to deliver Internet service to hundreds of millions of people living in regions too remote for conventional broadband networks. Other tech companies have launched similar initiatives. Google is experimenting with high-altitude balloons as well as drones and satellites. Microsoft has funded a project that will transmit Internet signals over unused television airwaves. Facebook also has a separate but related initiative that works with wireless carriers to provide limited mobile Internet service at no cost, in countries where residents are too poor to afford traditional wireless plans. But the company invited reporters Thursday to hear an update on its effort to provide service to about 10 percent of the world’s population who live in regions where it’s not practical or too expensive to build the usual infrastructure for Internet service. Facebook’s drone was developed in part with engineering expertise that joined the company when it acquired a British aerospace startup, Ascenta, last year. Facebook engineering vice president Jay Parikh said the team created a design that uses rigid but light-weight layers of carbon fiber, capable of flying in the frosty cold temperatures found at high altitudes, for an extended period of time. – Courtesy

How An MBA After Engineering Transformed My Career Path :Marcus Beaudry

Seb Murray | MBA Europe | Friday 31st July 2015 | BusinessBeacuse.com |

Former mechanical engineer broadens horizons with MBA at IESE Business School in Madrid.

Marcus Beaudry is dead-set on launching a start-up and an MBA is his route to making that dream a reality. But he is keeping his options open. A former mechanical engineer, he is embarking on an about-turn in his career at IESE, a leading global business school in Madrid. There are many transferable skills – problem solving, adaptability, and decision making are but a few. Prior to the IESE MBA, Marcus worked as a project engineer at Noetic Engineering, a Canadian upstream oil and gas engineering consultancy firm based in Edmonton. He is currently working an internship in a business development role at AM Technology, an environmental technology start-up in London.

Why did you decide to begin an MBA?

Throughout university I got involved with some extracurricular projects and started to realize that I quite enjoyed and excelled at project management. The same discovery process continued for the next couple years of my engineering career, until I finally decided it was time to take the leap and move fully into project management, but on a much higher level. An MBA was the easiest way to launch myself on this new career path. The decision to do an MBA was probably made a long time ago, when my dad started involving me in his businesses, though I didn’t know it then.

What has been the highlight of your experience at IESE Business School so far?

The highlight of IESE has undoubtedly been my classmates. With the class hailing from nearly 60 countries and no single nationality dominating the student body, it has been a truly unique experience. It was a pleasant surprise to see that cliques did not form along cultural lines, but rather large fluid social groups formed with total disregard to culture, language, and upbringing. The friendly and welcoming attitude of all students translates from social life to the classroom and the case method as well – classmates don’t compete to be the best or to continually voice their opinions, but rather they openly share their experiences.

What key skills are transferable from engineering to business/management?

Engineering is about solving problems. Being able to break a problem down into its key constituents and see all the factors at play is key to both engineering and business careers. As an engineer you gather information, make assumptions, test your assumptions, and methodically assemble a solution. To me, business and management is no different, though often the problem, information, feedback and assumptions are all more poorly defined. In both fields you must be able to synthesize a structured plan to address problems, while allowing ample room to adjust the solution as new information appears.

What was your greatest challenge at Noetic Engineering 2008 Inc?

Noetic Engineering is an oil and gas engineering consultancy which had a reputation for solving the hardest-to-solve engineering problems. The situations we encountered often led us to the leading edge of scientific research, which meant that devising engineering solutions often meant pushing the boundaries of design and exploring the unknown. The greatest challenges came in understanding when we had reached the limits of known science and determining how to proceed in the face of uncertainty.

What advice do you have for people who are about to apply to business school?

Having applied to several business schools and talked with countless prospective students for IESE, my biggest piece of advice is to be yourself in your applications. You will pretty quickly discover that schools pick people who fit in with the overall character of the school, and that you will get much more out of your education if you attend a school where you mesh well with the students, alumni and staff. Confidence and candour go a long way with admissions committees as well.

What are your future career plans? 

Post-graduation I hope to launch an international career relating to business strategy with perhaps some operations management thrown in. Given my engineering background, I’ll try to chase a company that has a sufficiently technical product or service offering. Longer term, I’m certain I’ll end up starting my own business. In what exactly? Only time will tell. Defining a career path now is a difficult exercise because if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I like snatching new and interesting opportunities as they present themselves. – Courtesy

India’s pride: Young engineering graduates from Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education head out to Valeo Innovation Challenge

Car Trade.com | July 29, 2015 | by Nikhil Puthran |

The Valeo Innovation Challenge has been a well known global contest that offers a right platform to engineering students around the world. The students are invited and encouraged to play an active role in automotive innovation by designing the product or system that will create smarter, more intuitive cars by 2030. The winning team would reportedly take home €100,000 in prize money, whereas the teams in the second and third-place would receive €10,000 each. Valeo has also been awarded the Top Employers label in 22 countries for 2015. The 20 shortlisted teams have developed a working prototype of their project using the €5,000 in funding allocated to each of them by Valeo. The teams participating at the event have reportedly arrived from all over the world and represent a total of 12 countries on four continents – China, Egypt, Germany, India, Malaysia, Poland, Russia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uzbekistan.

As part of the challenge, technology students from India are shortlisted for international €100,000 prize from Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education. The six finalist teams will be selected on Tuesday, September 1, 2015. They will be invited to present their projects to the jury at Paris. The top three teams will be announced on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. Valeo devotes nearly 11% of its original equipment sales to innovation, which is a priority focus for the Group. Most of its research and development programs are focused on the design of technologies that reduce motor vehicle CO2 emissions and promote intuitive driving. Ranking among the leading patent filers in France, the company has close to 11,000 researchers working in 50 research and development centers around the world. Valeo has developed a wide array of innovative products and technologies, which in 2014 represented 35% of its order intake. Some of popular names honoring the event would be Jacques Aschenbroich, Bruno Bonnell, Yotam Cohen, Andre Chieng, Prof. Dr.-Ing Welf-Guntram Drossel and Guillaume Devauchelle. – Courtesy

Valeo Innovation Challenge 2015

MOOCs will not replace traditional education

Jeff Selingo, who is the prime driver for Moocs, has argued in a well-written article titled, “Moocs are not a panacea, but that does not blunt their promise” that “The battle for the future of higher education has landed — at least for the time being — on a concept few in academe had even heard of a year ago: the massive open online course, or Mooc.” He further says, “I can imagine how the format might reduce costs, improve learning, increase access, and maybe, produce revenue for a few universities. The problem is that Moocs probably can’t do all four things at any one institution — and that’s the reason they are not ‘the’ solution to the myriad of problems facing higher education.” Several articles have since been written either supporting or opposing the spread of Moocs across continents. India has joined the bandwagon, albeit at a lower level, by creating a few programmes that are taught at the IITs. However, no concerted effort has been made so far to either draft an academic impact report on the use of Moocs or create a policy document on the right approach to spreading the Mooc philosophy across the country. A recent survey in the USA concludes, “Students enrolled in massive open online course (Mooc) suggests that the courses are supplementing traditional higher education forms and “democratising learning.” Researchers from Duke University studied “13 free, open-access digital courses offered by Duke using the Coursera platform” and found that the courses “are popular among youngsters, retirees and other non-traditional student populations.” The survey and its findings indicate that the younger group and those desiring to learn different disciplines to enhance their professional identity opt for Moocs. Lorrie Schmidt, a lead researcher says, “The idea was trying to get a better handle on individuals, who were underserved, because so much of the popular press has focused on highly educated, white (for the most part), upper middle class folks taking Coursera courses. “The theme that was most pronounced was that Coursera classes were supplementing or enhancing their education that they were getting from either K-12 or higher education formal courses,” added Schmidt. In 2012, Stanford president John Hennessy pronounced that the Moocs were going to be “transformative to education.” But, he added, “We don’t really understand how yet.” However, today, the landscape remains much the same: Mooc is a technology with potentially revolutionary implications for education, but without a precise plan for realising that potential. One way of getting there could be for the leaders of the Mooc movement to look more closely at older methods when education was less massive, less open, and entirely offline.

The ministry of human resources development and other technology departments of the Indian government have invested massive sums in these courses by IITs and venture capitalists, but right now, the main beneficiaries are those who need them the least. The most popular Moocs are in computer science, finance and psychology. They do attract large numbers — sometimes hundreds of thousands to a single course. But the people most likely to stay the course and gain free qualification, are well-educated professionals in their 30s. Review by Moocs providers like Coursera shows that 85 per cent of the participants already have university degrees. So, the bottom line is we should take Mooc as a changemaker in face-to-face education. We should also allow all institutions to do big experiments with creating Mooc material and also critically search for material available worldwide than can be assimilated in our curriculum. This approach would enhance the quality of teaching in our classrooms. (The writer is former chairman, UGC, former vice chancellor SM Pune University and founder director NAAC)Courtesy

Kerala’s Technological University (KTU) to be Named After President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University

ND TV | Kerala | Press Trust of India | July 29, 2015 |

Thiruvananthapuram:  Honouring the contributions of former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, Kerala government has decided to name its proposed Technological University after him. The announcement was made by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy in the state Assembly, here today. “Dr Kalam was a person who had made exceptional contributions to accelerate India’s pace in the field of science and technology. He had close connections with the state for around 20 years as a scientist,” he said. “So we decided to name the Technological University as APJ Abdul Kalam Technological University,” Mr Chandy said. The Chief Minister said a delegation from the state would attend the funeral of Dr Kalam at Rameswaram tomorrow. “The Kerala delegation will include Governor Justice P Sathasivam, Opposition leader VS Achutanandan and minister PJ Joseph, besides myself,” he said. Mr Chandy said that Speaker N Sakthan also wanted to accompany the delegation but would not be able to participate because of the Assembly sitting. Mr Chandy also said though the state wanted the mortal remains of Dr Kalam to be brought to Kerala to enable the public to pay homage, the plea was not accepted by the Centre due to some ‘technical reasons’. – Courtesy

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