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Prof CNR Rao asks IIT graduates to work for development of the country

The Economic Times |  By PTI |  Jun 23, 2017  |

GUWAHATI: Prof C N R Rao today exhorted the graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology here to be proud of the brand ‘IIT’ and use it for the development of the country. Delivering the 19th Convocation address of IIT-G as chief guest, the National Research Professor said, “IIT is the only brand that India created after Independence. Be proud of it and use it for the development of India”. “If IIT students decide to use this education in India, they will make a great future for this country”, said Rao who is also the Linus Pauling Research Professor and Honorary President of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bengaluru. Asking the students to decide now what they want to do in life, he said, “decide what your mission is. With dedication, doggedness and tenacity success will be yours. Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela won Independence for their countries through these qualities”. Speaking about China making huge monetary investments in education and development of science and technology producing 23,000 PhDs annually and generating the same amount of research work, he said, “China and South Korea are coming up with quality students so that they can compete with the best and become number one as the future depends on science and technology”.

He said “this is the role of IITs and other institutes to make India number one. That is the effort you have to make. There will be a lot of challenges, don’t ever think you cannot succeed. You have to succeed. it depends on you.” Stating that if government has healthy policies and society gives more support then India will succeed, he said that in the pre-Independence era when there was no IIT or government support for research, India produced eminent scientists like J C Bose, Noble Laureate C V Raman and mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan because of their passion for research. Speaking about himself, Prof Rao said, “I am 84 years old and have been researching for the last 68 years. I am doing research to do what I can for this great country till my last breath”. He also exhorted the IIT graduates to always remain humble as “greatness and simplicity go together. Have your feet on the ground. Make India on top of the world”. Altogether 1,308 students – including 583 B-Tech and 36 B-Des, 20 MA, 119 MSc, 363 M-Tech and 27 MDes, and 155 PhDs – received their degrees at the Convocation. Prof Rao also gave away the President of India gold medal to the Institute toppers among the B-Tech and B-Des programme students and Dr Shankar Dayal Sharma gold medal to the student adjudged best in general proficiency. Presenting his report on the activities and achievements of the Institute during 2016-17, IIT-G Director Prof Gautam Biswas said as per the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF), India Ranking 2017, the Institute was placed in the 8th rank among all the participating universities and institutions and 7th among the top engineering institutions in the country. – Courtesy

Flipkart looks at hackathons for new solutions to engage people, grow business

Business Standard | Romita Majumdar  |  Mumbai  June 24, 2017 |  Gridlock Hackathon  |

Its seventh such annual hackathon will come to a close today, with over 100 solutions emerging from.

Flipkart is looking at hackathons as a way to fast track innovations and build solutions that can be implemented in its business quickly. So far, the company says a little over a dozen such solutions born at hackathons over the past six years have made it to production. The company’s seventh such 24-hour annual hackathon will come to a close on Friday, with over 100 solutions emerging from it. Flipkart says unlike other schemes to help engineers come up with new innovations, hackathons work best because they have fewer restrictions on what engineers can build. “It’s an engagement program to empower our engineers to create something that excites them. Engineers have a green signal to take projects to production, get experimental data and then take a call on its viability. The teams just come together organically with their ideas,” said Amar Nagaram, Engineering VP at Flipkart. The theme of innovations range from increasing customer impact, easing customer experience and simplifying employee interface to social welfare. Flipkart is also running another Hackathon in Bangalore to help solve the city’s traffic woes. The contest is open to people outside the organisation as well. The management takes a backseat during hackathons to allow “Flipsters” or employees to indulge themselves in 24 hours of absolute innovation. Participants are given a free run to take their hacks to production and ensure that they are workable. In the past more than 30 hacks have gone into production with almost a dozen still in production. “It is a seamless engagement of product, business and engineering teams to innovate, ” added Nagaram. Almost 70 per cent of Flipkart’s engineering team participated in this year’s hackathon.

Flipkart’s hackathons have thrown up innovations that have not only reduced company spending but also increased ease of use for customers. The hackathons do not necessarily focus on business-centric hacks for innovation. After the Nepal earthquake participants created a hack that allowed the creation of chain of networks to help people access internet connection in times of disaster. “Even on regular days we resolve a number of problem statements but this is just concentrated 24 hours where we just hack and not think about anything else,” he said. Hacks have to be completely usable to qualify for evaluation. The evaluation is a four-hour long process spanning ideas from almost 200 teams of three to four participants each. Sometimes Flipkart hackathons are opened up for non-organizational participants like the current Gridlock event. Does it help to attract talent? “After being exposed to 24 hours of Flipkart’s core infrastructure, people have expressed interest to work here, although that is not necessarily the intention of opening it up to outsiders,” said Nagaram. Hackathon are becoming more common across India’s technology landscape, as companies look to speed up development, come up with creative ways to solve problems and even look at employment or partnerships. While startups are well versed with the hackathon culture, larger organisations too are picking it up. SBI has already launched a hackathon to reimagine banking technology while TCS has launched nationwide hackathons to zero in on future recruits. – Courtesy    / Take a look at      https://www.hackerearth.com/sprints/flipkart-hackathon/

The reason behind fewer girl students in IITs

Hindustan Times |  Vidhya Narayanan |  Mandi Jun 21, 2017 | Opinion |

Representational image

Representational image

NUMBERS AT GLANCE
  • Enrolment of girls in IITs in 2016: 8%
  • Girls joining engineering in India: 3 lakh
  • Girls qualifying JEE Advanced: 4,570
  • Girls admitted to IITs: 848

Neha Muthiyan, a third year student of computer science engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Mandi, was not surprised when she found out that she was one of the five girls in a batch of 115 students. Right through her JEE preparation days, she had seen the number of girl students around her dwindling. The poor gender ratio is one of the sad realities of the premier institutes of technology in our country. In 2016, girls formed only 8% of the total students enrolled in IITs. It’s not that the girls aren’t bright enough to get admission. The fact is systematic societal biases deprive them of making it to these top institutes.  A study by the sub-committee of the Joint Admission Board (JAB), the overall advisory body in charge of admission to IITs, found that in 2016, 4,570 girls cleared the JEE (Advanced) but only 848 of them were admitted to an IIT.

WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?

The report said that societal biases are the main reason for poor representation of women in IITs. Most girls don’t have access to the kind of facilities that boys of their age have. Coaching plays a significant role in preparation for JEE (Advanced). But most parents are not willing to invest in a girl child’s coaching. Because of this, girls are denied a fair playing ground in the entrance exam. Another problem is that of lack of role models. While most boys would find someone or the other who would have been to an IIT before them, for girl students, it’s unlikely that they will have any sisters, aunts, cousins who did BTech from an IIT and who they could look up to. For many girls, there is also a problem of family-imposed restrictions on geographical mobility due to safety concerns. Neha says, “When my relatives realised that by clearing JEE, I will have to stay away from my hometown for four years; they were not supportive of it. Statements like ‘Girls shouldn’t be sent away from home’ or ‘Do engineering from your hometown’ had become pretty common.”

I(I)T’s A GIRL’S WORLD TOO!

Why should the low number of girls in IITs concern us? Engineers develop most products and technology for society. Women form almost half of this society that consumes this technology. If there aren’t enough women involved in the creation process, it’s unlikely that these products can fully serve women. Male engineers may not necessarily understand the needs of women.

DEBUGGING THE GENDER GAP

The JAB has made 15 recommendations to improve the gender ratio at IITs. One of the recommendations is to add supernumerary seats or exceeding the usual number in BTech for women in all institutes. This would not reduce the number of male students being admitted, unless the overall performance of male candidates is poor. Also, this won’t bring down the academic standards as only those girls who have cleared the JEE (Advanced) will be admitted. The idea is to ensure meritorious girls who clear the entrance exam don’t opt out due to societal pressures or unavailability of seats in branches of their choice.

ENGINEERING A CHANGE

To encourage meritorious girls to enroll in IITs, a special help desk was set up IIT Mandi, to advise girls who qualified the JEE(Advanced) 2017 exam on a range of attractive options in IITs. IIT Mandi, director Timothy A Gonsalves wrote to each successful candidate, urging her to avail of the unique opportunity to study in an IIT. – Courtesy

AICTE moots M. Tech syllabus overhaul

The Hindu | Nikhila Henry | 22 June 2017 |

Courses to be made more research, teaching and industry-oriented than earlier

A complete overhaul of M. Tech curriculum in private engineering colleges is on cards for the next academic year 2018-19. All India Council of Technical Education had decided to make M. Tech more research, teaching and industry-oriented than earlier, declared Manpreet Singh Manne, Director, All India Council of Technical Education. M. Tech curriculum will include a three-month compulsory teaching workshop and nine-month industrial training module. Till last year, the syllabus and norms had allowed students to submit for evaluation technological and engineering projects developed in their own colleges. AICTE arrived at the curriculum change as M. Tech graduates are most likely to be teaching engineering in undergraduate engineering colleges than opt for research and development. “As over 10,000 institutions which come under AICTE face 38% faculty shortage, M. Tech graduates will have to be trained to take up the job,” Mr. Manne who was in Hyderabad told The Hindu. Till recently AICTE, the body which monitors and controls technical, pharmacy and management education in the country had to allow adjunct faculty members because of teacher shortage. In an elaborate plan which will require meticulous planning and execution, Mr. Manne said colleges under AICTE will evaluate teaching aptitude among B. Tech graduates. “We will ask students doing their second year of B. Tech whether they are keen to teach. Those interested will be honed specially under the M.Tech programme,” he said. While the programme is tailor made to help aspiring teachers, those who want to continue higher education will also have to go through the uniform curriculum,” he informed.

 Online learning

The council which launched its online teaching platform, SWAYAM or Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds this year is expected to launch its first semester-based courses that follows credit system on swayam.gov.in starting July 9. Those who take the course will be given a cafeteria of study material including music and arts to chose from. As per the Swayam model, students will be allowed to get 20 credits if they take full length semester courses on the portal. These credits, recognised by all institutions in the country, can be added to the total Common Grade Point given by parent educational institutions. “Each student will be now be able to follow languages, music, art or any subject of their choice,” Mr. Manne said. AICTE has also been revamping the education portal by introducing internship for enthusiastic students. A total of 60,000 had registered with the site. However, the director said 300 to 400 college managements have been submitting their foreclosure requests each year during the past decade on account of fall in B. Tech admissions. Mr. Manne said AICTE, “will forcibly close any engineering or professional college that had filled less than 30% of the seats for five consecutive years”. – Courtesy

NPTEL offers 116 new certification courses this July session

Online course: Free for all, Certification exam: For a nominal fee.
Learn anytime, anywhere! Only requirement: Interest and enthusiasm to learn 🙂
The National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL) will offer 159 courses for its July to November, 2017 session.  All these courses are open for online enrollment.  Among these 159 courses, 43 are old and 116 courses are new.

NPTEL was initiated by seven IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Guwahati and Roorkee) along with the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore in 2003. Prof Andrew Thangaraj, NPTEL coordinator at IIT Madras said, “It is a great opportunity for learners across the country to access the IIT and IISc systems as well as experts from other reputed institutions. This enables learning without boundaries. You learn what you are interested in, and get a certificate confirming your abilities in that area.” The courses will begin from July 24, 2017 or August 21, 2017 with examination dates being on September 24/October 22, 2017 (Sundays).   All courses are free. The certification examination is optional and comes at a fee of Rs 1000/course examination. https://onlinecourses.nptel.ac.in – Click here to Take a Look at the site :   https://onlinecourses.nptel.ac.in/explorer
List (tentative) of Online certification courses from NPTEL to be offered between July-November 2017: http://nptel.ac.in/LocalChapter/Assets/spoc_refdocs/Tentative_course_list_July_2017.pdf

AIB’s Video: This clip is for every engineering student who tries to get a job but fails each time

Newsable | By Rushali Pawar | June 20, 2017  |

  • The video series focuses on an average engineering student who struggles to get a job after four years.
  • During campus placement, he is told to speak English, a requirement so elitist in nature that it disregards other skills.
  • The video’s protagonist, Average Mishra, says that he’s realised engineering is a sham and the dream of a high paying job is a bigger sham.
 All India Bakchod’s new video series is a beautiful drama on the frustration and the sheer misfortune of those who don’t get placed during campus recruitment. The three part video series lists bizarre reasons why engineering students don’t get a job no matter how hard they try. The reasons for their rejection does not indicate how qualified or not they are. Instead, they are denied a job because they didn’t pass a written test or talk in a group discussion. In the third part of the video series, Average Mishra (Neveen Polishetty), who spends all his time playing counter strike and being zoned out, basically like any other engineering student, doesn’t get through campus recruitment.

At one point, he gives up, sits on the front steps to what looks like an important building, and rues. He is beyond sad when a college mate gives him a glimmer of hope: he’s actually made it through group discussion. What follows is a series of pointless discussions, technical interview questions that don’t test a student’s skill. He manages to make it through these challenges and finally, he enters a personal interview round which is anything but personal.

Mishra is told over and over again that he needs to speak English. This requirement is so elitist that this college student loses it, argues why he’s not comfortable speaking in a language that’s not native to him, or for many others who are comfortable only speaking their mother-tongue. This average dude in a nameless, faceless engineering college in India isn’t the only one who has gone through this. Almost every engineering student has had to face logic defying questions during interviews and has had to respond them with equally confusing answers.

What AIB does skilfully in their video series is this: they take a humanistic view of the plight of engineering students, who struggle through college to land a high paying job, only to realise that the dream they were sold was a sham. This video series is really a tribute to engineering students in India. It makes them believe that a college education or job in the IT sector doesn’t determine one’s talent. The video series is also a tribute to the engineers, and engineering  drop outs at AIB, who have gone against the norm and pursued a creative career, remaining true to themselves. – Courtesy

Cabell’s Blacklist: Our journal Blacklist differs from Jeffrey Beall’s

The Hindu |  R. Prasad |  June 17, 2017 | Sci-Tech | Science |  Cabell’s: ‘Our journal Blacklist differs from Jeffrey Beall’s’ |

Vigilant Kathleen Berryman, Project Manager,at Cabell’s says the company will dentify deceptive practices and will maintain transparency.

Five months after Jeffrey Beall, librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, shut down his widely consulted blog (Scholarly Open Access) that listed predatory journals and publishers, Cabell’s International, based in Beaumont, Texas, launched Cabell’s Blacklist, a list of predatory journals, on June 15. Predatory journals cheat researchers by charging fees to publish papers but without carrying any peer review, allowing even trash to be published. Besides the Blacklist, the Cabell’s also publishes a Whitelist of journals, and both the lists can be accessed for a fee at the company’s website, http://www.cabells.com. Kathleen Berryman, Project Manager at Cabell’s says the company uses a set of criteria to identify deceptive practices employed by journals and will maintain transparency, unlike Beall’s.

How many publishers and/or journals have been included in the list? Is it restricted to Open Access journals?

We have chosen to review journals for our Blacklist, rather than publishers. It will launch with approximately 4,000 journals and we expect this number to continue to increase as we continue to review journals. While we are reviewing both open access and subscription journals, and include both on our Blacklist, we do not have an exact count of how many are in each category at this time.

What criteria will you use to judge a journal? How transparent will that be to publishers and researchers?

We currently have a set of 65 specific violations that act as indicators of deceptive practices. As we continue to review journals and identify newly emerging predatory behaviour, we anticipate that these indicators will further evolve. As with our Whitelist criteria, our Blacklist criteria will be available to everyone on our website. In addition to this, we are listing on each journal card in our Blacklist all of the reasons why each journal is included.

Many journals have made their home page and journals look very authentic. How difficult will it be to assess them?

Again, our team of research specialists is trained to seek out hard-to-find information. One way we do this is by contacting the editors, reviewers and/or authors who are listed on the journal’s website. We ask not only if they agreed to be included on the editorial board, but also what their duties are as an editorial board member. We do not rely on how a website “looks” to determine whether or not the journal should be blacklisted. We do not include journals on our Blacklist unless we have evidence of their deceptive publication practices.

 What major differences can one see in your list compared with Jeffrey Beall’s?

Our Blacklist differs from Jeffrey Beall’s lists in several ways. We have developed a set of criteria that we use to evaluate all journals suspected of deceptive behaviour and we apply this criteria equally to all journals we review. We are also reviewing journals, rather than publishers, regardless of the type of access. This means that there will be subscription access journals on our list as well as open access journals. Finally, and most importantly, we are improving transparency by listing all of the reasons why each journal is included on our Blacklist.

Of the 800 institutions that subscribe to your Whitelist, how many are from India? How much does it cost per institution to subscribe to your Whitelist and Blacklist?

We currently have four institutions in India who subscribe to our Whitelist. The cost for subscribing to our Whitelist and Blacklist is on a sliding scale, based on full-time enrolment of undergraduate students. It is for this reason that we choose not to make our prices available on our website. Contacting our sales team is the best way to receive a quote tailored to the needs of the individual.

Will the Blacklist be freely available to institutions in countries like India, where most predatory journals are published?

We originally planned to make our Blacklist available for free, but after analysing the time and resources it took to create it — and the resources it will take to maintain it – we realised that it would not be sustainable. We’re making every effort to keep the subscription fee for the blacklist as low as possible, and we’re exploring other options to support it in the future.

A few predatory publishers have bought over genuine journal labels. Will it complicate the blacklisting process?

Our team of research specialists is trained to seek out hard-to-find information. One of the items on our list of criteria is that the journal hides or obscures relationships with for-profit partner companies.

Jeffrey Beall was forced to shut down his blog. Do you think you are well prepared to handle litigation threats and appeals?

A lot of the debate surrounding Beall’s list was around the execution, not its usefulness. We don’t deny that there might have been some issues of transparency and objectivity with Beall’s list, and that is exactly what we aim to improve upon. Each entry on our Blacklist, in reality, is a detailed report of our investigative process. The report includes not only identifying information, but also the specific violations that the process revealed.  –  Courtesy    / Click here to Take a Look at:    https://www.cabells.com/

A Lalitha : India’s first woman electrical engineer

The Hindu | Metro Plus Chennai | June 19, 2017 |  S MUTHIAH | 

 

Attendees gather at the 1964 New York World’s Fair during the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers in June 1964. Left to right: A. Lalitha (Indian delegate), unknown, Joan Shubert, unknown Canadian delegate, N. Sainani (Canadian delegate of Indian origin), and Dee Halladay.

Attendees gather at the 1964 New York World’s Fair during the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists, hosted by the Society of Women Engineers in June 1964. Left to right: A. Lalitha (Indian delegate), unknown, Joan Shubert, unknown Canadian delegate, N. Sainani (Canadian delegate of Indian origin), and Dee Halladay. – Image Courtesy – http alltogether.swe. org

When Dr Shantha Mohan, who is writing a book on the women graduates of the College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), contacted me recently, seeking more information on May George (Miscellany, February 3, 2014 ), I got more information from her than I could give. I’d always thought that the College had admitted only two women students, its first, in 1940, but I learnt from her that three had been admitted. They were PK Thresia, Leelamma George and A Lalitha, all receiving their degrees in 1943 with the certificate having ‘He’ struck out and replaced with a handwritten ‘She’. A history of the College brought out by it in 1991 curiously states that the first women students were only two and one got her degree in Electrical Engineering, the other in Civil. Shantha Mohan provides me a wealth of detail about the Electrical Engineering student, Lalitha, so it must be presumed that the other two she mentions did Civil Engineering.

The first women graduates of CEG: P.K. Thresia, Leelamma George, and A. Lalitha -Image Courtesy - Mrs. Syamala Chenulu

The first women graduates of CEG: P.K. Thresia, Leelamma George, and A. Lalitha – Image Courtesy – Mrs. Syamala Chenulu

Lalitha, married at 15, was 18 when she had her daughter. A few months later, in 1937, her husband passed away. Determined not to stay at home and mourn or to remarry, she decided to take up a professional course. Lalitha applied to CEG in 1939, an all-male institution at the time. It was her good fortune that her father, Pappu Subba Rao, was Professor of Electrical Engineering there and he persuaded Principal KC Chacko (the first Principal with a Doctorate) and Director of Public Instruction RM Statham, who was all for women’s education (Miscellany, August 24, 2015) that it was time the College admitted women students — and Lalitha became CEG’s first woman student, a widow and a mother at that. With the gates opened, Thresia and Leelamma followed her in. Lalitha stayed on a year after they left to get her Honours degree. After a stint with the Central Standards Organisation in Simla, Lalitha spent a few years with her father, helping him with his research. He patented a Jelectromonium (an electrical musical instrument), smokeless ovens and an electric flame producer. But the need to make a living on her own beckoned, and she joined Associated Electrical Industries, a British firm.

Lalitha’s degree – note they had to strike out “He” and write in “She”- Image Courtesy -

Lalitha’s degree – note they had to strike out “He” and write in “She” – Image Courtesy –

She then began designing transmission lines, doing substation layouts and executing contracts. She was noteworthily associated with the work on electrical generators for the Bhakra Nangal Dam. After 30 years with AEL, including the time after it had been taken over by General Electric, Lalitha retired, much of the last years of her working life focused on supervising contract projects. She was the only woman engineer from India to attend the First International Conference of Women Engineers and Scientists which was held in New York in 1964. Thereafter, she was active in international women’s engineering organisations internationally till she passed away in 1979. She had once said, “Electrical Engineering runs in my blood. My father, four brothers, nephew and son-in-law are all Electrical Engineers.” Shantha Mohan adds a request to all this information: “If you have information about women engineers from CEG from the 1940s to the 1960s, please let me know at Shantha_rm@yahoo.com  /  or facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/cegwomen/

The Philippines connection

Many moons ago, on December 22, 2014, I had written about Tambaram railwayman Noel Fuller’s search for roots. At that time he had discovered that his great grandfather, Albert James Fuller of Madurai, had married Ellen Matilda Narcis, really a Narcisonian and an Armenian. Her line Noel traced back to Coja Sultan David who arrived in Madras from Isfahan in Persia around the 1720s. Coja Sultan David became a leader of the Armenian community in Madras and his son, Aga Shawmier Sultan, was the owner of that ‘Great House in Charles Street’ in the Fort known as Admiralty, or Clive House . Noel’s search for his Armenian ancestors’ tombstones led him to that of the wife of Coja Sultan David which he found on St Thomas’ Mount. The Aga Shawmier Sultans, husband and wife, are buried in the yard of the Armenian Church in Madras, a church raised on the site of the Shawmier chapel which the family gifted to the community. All Noel could discover at that time was that Coja Sultan David had died in Pondicherry in 1754 and had converted to Roman Catholicism just before he passed away so that he could be buried in consecrated ground, the Armenians having no church of their own in Pondicherry. Pondicherry yielded him no tombstones, but the information that after the English had taken the city in 1761 they had ravaged it, reducing even tombstones to rubble. The story then goes that in 1765, when the East Indiaman Earl Temple was to sail for Manila, it needed ballast and the rubble of Pondicherry was loaded on it. In the South China Sea, the ship hit a reef and sank. Salvagers in 1997 found in it, intact, the 1,335 kilogram tombstone of Coja Sultan David. There’s a missing link here, but the tombstone, its engraving still clear, is now in the Philippines, an exhibit in the Manila Museum.

Wrong again

My computer help once again sent out the wrong picture and, so, last week we had, with Subedar Subramanian, Brigadier K Sampath, one of the speakers, instead of the Subedar’s son Durailingam as mentioned. My apologies to Brig Sampath and Durailingam. The chronicler of Madras that is Chennai tells stories of people, places, and events from the years gone by, and sometimes, from today. – Courtesy    /    Read More …  SWE,    &    LinkedIn Article

From upskilling engineering students to enabling pros to earn extra—the AcadView story

Yourstory | Aparajita Choudhury |  19 June 2017  |

Delhi-based AcadView offers engineering students courses in front-end, back-end, and full-stack development while allowing engineering professionals to teach online and earn extra money.

The end of 2014 saw many NRIs return from Silicon Valley to join startups or establish their own ventures. The purpose was to replicate successful business models in India by drawing on the experience gained in the Valley. Among them was Himanshu Batra, who had a Master’s in management systems from the University of Illinois at Chicago and spent almost a decade at Google (California) in roles ranging from project manager to programme manager. On a road trip to Lake Tahoe towards the end of 2014, Himanshu and one of his Google colleagues got talking about how, despite living in the digital age, students still have so much running around to do when it comes to getting their marksheets from educational institutions. Although then just a casual conversation, it was enough to convince Himanshu to move back to India in 2015 and turn the idea into reality.  In November 2015, he launched AcadView to digitalise marksheets. Uploading a simple Excel sheet creates a blank template for universities. With the press of a button, marksheets are generated and sent to students’ phones. When, owing to wrong sales cycles, things went south with government institutions, AcadView decided to go the private way. In 10 months, by offering its services on a freemium model, the startup had convinced over 10 percent of the private universities in North India to opt for the digitalisation of marksheets. In January 2016, Himanshu met Varun Jain, who joined AcadView as a co-founder and now takes care of the technology and product. Varun, who previously ran a content startup called Quizot, has also managed product for the Frankly.me Android app.

Pivoting the model…

Channelling the co-founders’ energy and experience, AcadView did well until last September, when the Government of India announced the DigiLocker as a part of the Digital India campaign. DigiLocker is an initiative towards paperless governance, digitalising the issuance and verification of documents and certificates. Indian citizens are provided with a cloud storage space linked with the Aadhaar (UIDAI) number once they sign up for a DigiLocker account. Organisations that are registered with DigiLocker can provide electronic copies and certificates like driving licence, voter ID, and school certificates directly into citizens’ lockers.  “With the launch of DigiLocker, we were thrown out of the business. Though we had access to these students and institutions, we started pondering on solving the next problem in the education sector. We then pivoted the AcadView model into offering courses on front-end and back-end technologies. Though we worked with a few universities free of cost, they helped us get access to students for our paid courses,” says Himanshu.

AcadView now connects freshers with expert mentors from organisations across India who teach the front-end, back-end, and full-stack development courses offered by the company. The charges for the three courses—all of which are two months long—are Rs 5,499, Rs 5,499, and Rs 8,399 respectively. Once students finish the projects, automated résumés are generated. The task of onboarding mentors was preceded by a campaign which revealed that working professionals tend to earn extra money. AcadView allows them to do that by taking classes after office hours. The AcadView team conducts sales pitches in front of students where they get to know their level of interest in technologies. They then aggregate and customise the content.

The path towards self-sustainability

Initially completely bootstrapped by Himanshu, soon after launching, AcadView raised an undisclosed amount of seed capital from Ola Co-founder Ankit Bhati and a Silicon Valley-based investor. Before pivoting the model, the team conducted a survey on 100 tech students from 10 institutions in Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, and Delhi, the result of which brought Himanshu closer to his dream of solving the problems of the education sector. He said students did not seem happy with the pattern of teaching and courses offered by other edtech players in the market. Currently, students from 20 institutions avail AcadView’s courses. When asked about extending the courses to other regions, Himanshu said that of the 750 universities and 35,000 colleges in the country, 50 percent are in North India, which poses a huge opportunity. There is, therefore, no need to consider branching out to other parts of the country right now.

AcadView has four advisors from Google, Facebook, and Amazon and 20 teachers from various organisations. The platform’s feedback option allows them to review the notes given to students, thereby monitoring the quality of the classes. Present only in Delhi, AcadView has eight employees. From 20, the number of students has gone up to 1,000. Classes are conducted online in batches of 30 and teachers get paid Rs 20,000 per month. Students who do their projects exceptionally well get the opportunity to help juniors and earn Rs 3,000 as interns. According to a report by Aspiring Minds, in an ecosystem with a huge IT industry as a backdrop and aspirations in data science, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, over 95 percent engineers in India have been found unemployable for software development jobs. Addressing this market are prominent names like Simplilearn, Udacity, Vedantu as well as the likes of Tweak Skills and Mettl. Next year, AcadView plans to opt for a franchise model and increase the number of institutions from 20 to 50 and introduce courses at higher prices. – Courtesy    /   Click here to Take a look at  https://acadview.com/

Students can opt for fully online degree courses soon

Hindustan Times | Jun 16, 2017 |  Neelam Pandey |

Students and working professionals will soon be able to obtain a degree online and it will be recognised by higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission.

Students and working professionals will soon be able to obtain a degree online and it will be recognised by higher education regulator, the University Grants Commission. The human resource development ministry has decided to allow universities to offer such degrees and is drafting rules, official sources told HT. Once the rules are in place, institutes will be able to offer online degrees in all fields, except engineering, medicine, dental, pharmacy, nursing, architecture and physiotherapy. At present, the commission does not recognise any course offered solely through the online mode. A student can get a degree by enrolling in a university and attending classes or through a distancing-learning module. From this year, the government has allowed universities to offer 20% of their course material through the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) platform called Swayam. But if a student gets a degree through any online course, it’s not recognised. A number of private universities offer online degrees but not many students opt for them as they are not recognised by the UGC.

The ministry has now started preparing draft regulations for online programmes that will allow universities and higher educational institutes to offer degrees by conducting exams online; students will not have to attend classes physically. The draft came up for discussion before the UGC and the HRD ministry recently. “World over online degrees and courses are offered by institutes and they have gained respectability. Students will not be required to attend classes but will take e-tutorials to help them understand the concepts. Institutes will have to apply to the UGC for approval and degrees by such institutes will be recognised,” said a senior official. To qualify, a university would have to be NAAC-accredited with a minimum score of 3.25 on a four-point scale to ensure quality. According to the official, the online platform will be integrated with Aadhaar to verify the identity of learners at the time of application as well as through the duration of the programme, including examinations. “The programmes can be designed for conventional learners, as well as working professionals depending on what the institute is looking for,” the official said. Apart from the actual programme delivery, components such as the counselling process, online application processing and fee payment will also be provide online. – Courtesy

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