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Wipro’s memo to engineers: To earn more, learn more

Live Mint | Fri, Aug 26 2016 | Varun Sood |

Wipro believes the new strategy will eventually help put it back on the growth pedestal. India’s third-largest software services exporter is making its most aggressive push to get its over 120,000 engineers to learn newer technologies.

Bengaluru: Wipro Ltd’s chief executive Abidali Neemuchwala has a simple message for its engineers looking to earn more: Learn newer programming languages for a better appraisal. India’s third-largest software services exporter is making its most aggressive push to get its over 120,000 engineers to learn newer technologies, which the management believes will eventually help in putting Wipro back on the growth pedestal. In what can be billed as the-first-of-its kind initiative by any large firm in India’s $150 billion outsourcing sector, Wipro is putting together a model under which engineers who know newer programming languages such as Swift and Python will be paid better than those who know only traditional, yet still relevant, programming language like Java. Wipro’s effort comes at a time when Indian outsourcing firms including its larger rivals Tata Consultancy Services Ltd and Infosys Ltd are increasingly looking to get their talent pool to work on projects that have elements of digital technologies such as data analytics and mobility platforms.

Automation platforms and cloud computing are eroding the labour arbitrage enjoyed by these firms, prompting them to explore new technologies. Also, unlike in the past when a lot of software engineers could do with only writing applications using programming languages such as Java, J2EE and C++, a wider embrace of cloud computing by their clients means engineers need to learn languages like Go that will help them execute the work to move applications to cloud computing platforms. Through an online module and classroom sessions, TCS has already trained close to 100,000 people in newer technologies. Wipro claims to have helped over 10,000 engineers learn more programming languages. Infosys has trained more than half of its workforce on the user-centric approach of Design Thinking and partnered with online education firms such as Udacity, edX and Coursera to help employees gain an understanding of artificial intelligence-powered technologies. “Learning more programming languages will be one more important metric, and not just the only, on which appraisals will be carried out,” said an executive familiar with the development at Wipro. “So say, if there are two employees who have done well, one of the factors that will now be a determining factor, will be an employee’s proficiency in more languages.” To start with, Wipro has done an internal skill-mapping exercise, based on the order pipeline of outsourcing contracts, and starting next financial year, engineers who know more than a few programming languages will be “disproportionately rewarded better”, said two executives (including the one above) on condition of anonymity. “Clearly, the prediction by many is that 50% of existing skills will become obsolete in the coming years. So a company won’t be in good shape, if people don’t re-skill and learn new skill sets,” said Saurabh Govil, president, and chief human resources officer at Wipro.

Wipro’s push to incentivise employees to learn newer technologies will help it in three ways: firstly, the decision will push more people to learn newer skill sets, and thereby save the management from resorting to measures like lay-offs; secondly, more employees adept in newer programming languages will help Wipro improve its utilisation rates as it can deploy its workforce on ongoing projects with more digital elements; finally, it will help Wipro cut its dependence on technical sub-contractors, and save on costs incurred in hiring engineers at a higher pay from outside the firm. “We’ve already ring-fenced the skills which are hot for now. We’ve started this skill-set mapping exercise to bridge the gap. Now, it is not to say that you don’t need understanding of Java. What essentially we are trying to do is to get people add these top-up skill sets,” said one of the executives mentioned above. Industry analysts gave their thumbs-up to the move. “If you think of how the outsourcing industry grew up, it was built around execution of well defined, repeatable processes and methodologies,” said Bill Huber, managing director at US-based outsourcing advisory firm Alsbridge. “Firms are aggressively trying to change the culture.” Still, many believe it will be challenging for home-grown tech vendors to re-skill existing staff as many of the engineers are believed to be straitjacketed about learning newer technologies. Earlier this year, Gurgaon-based employability assessment firm Aspiring Minds found that over 80% of engineering graduates in India continue to be unemployable. –  Courtesy

Sugamya Pustakalaya an online library for Persons with disabilities

The Times of India | Ambika Pandit | TNN | Aug 24, 2016 |

NEW DELHI: The department of empowerment of persons with disabilities, (DEPwD) on Wednesday launched ‘Sugamya Pustakalaya’ – an online library for Persons with print disabilities as part of the Accessible India Campaign.
The online library has been created in collaboration with National Institute of Visually Handicapped (NIVH), member organizations of Daisy Forum of India (DFI), Bookshare and powered by TCS Access.  Joint Secretary DEPwD, Mukesh Jain informed the audience that there are more than 52 lakhs people with visual impairment (2011 census) and that one of the most important components of the Accessible India campaign is making ICT services accessible for people with disabilities. This online library will focus on collection of all accessible materials from all over the country in single online library system. It will enable each member organisation to provide services to their members and draw on resources of all other organisations of the country. Users will be able to get books anywhere in the country at a single location. The e-library platform will work in collaboration with international agencies such as ‘Bookshare’ and ‘Accessible Books Consortium’ to make accessible books from all over the world available to users in India.

 At the launch, union minister for Information Technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the launch of this e-library was as step towards realization of the Digital India Campaign and an example of public service through innovative use of IT. Prasad informed that his ministry has already made 400 websites out of a total of 1800 websites accessible. Speaking on the occasion, minister for social justice and empowerment, Thaawarchand Gehlot said that the “Sugamya Pustakalaya” is a platform that would enable content to be made available to the visually impaired persons. Human Resources Development minister Prakash Javadekar emphasized on the importance of breaking barriers in knowledge dissemination. He pledged his ministry’s support to the e-library initiative and said that HRD Ministry will endeavour to accomplish the task of providing all text books of all boards to users with special needs through this online library. –  Courtesy
Welcome to Sugamya Pustakalaya , India ‘s first and largest collection of accessible books  :   If you are looking for books accessible to the blind, people with low vision or to persons with any other print disability, this library of libraries is your one-stop shop.  Sugamya Pustakalaya is a collaborative effort of several organizations to end the book famine faced by people with print disabilities.  Here, you can access books in diverse languages from various libraries across India. We have also partnered with international agencies like Bookshare and Accessible Books Consortium to provide you with accessible books from all over the world.  Users can access a collection of over 2, 30,000 books, maintain their individual reading shelves online and also download books in chosen formats.  Sugamya Pustakalaya is a facilitating platform for producers of accessible content to jointly work in producing and providing accessible books to people with print disabilities.  Publishers can also collaborate with us to publish their content in accessible formats  :       Click here to visit – https://library.daisyindia.org/

IIT Council approves new changes: 10 things you should know

The Financial Express |  Rajeev Kumar | Updated: August 24, 2016 |

Engineering education in India is set to undergo a massive change with IITs deciding to open up for ‘outsiders’ and increase its student intake up to 1 lakh.

Engineering education in India is set to undergo a massive change with IITs deciding to open up for ‘outsiders’ and increase its student intake up to 1 lakh. On Tuesday, the IIT Council chaired by HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar approved the proposal to increase their student strength to 1 lakh over the next three years. The change will apply to all undergraduate and post-graduate programmes of IITs. The increase in student strength is a part of Modi government’s vision of positioning IITs among the best institutes across the world. The present move will certainly have a long last lasting effect on engineering education in India.

Here we present 10 things about what this change entails and how it will impact the IITs:

1. Does IITs aim to admit 1 lakh students every year?

No. The proposed change is only about increasing the overall strength of the institute.

2. What is the present student strength at IITs?

Presently, there are about 72,000 students in 23 IITs across the country.

3. How will the proposed change rollout?

The IITs have been asked to decide how many seats they can start adding from the next year as per their resources like faculty and infrastructure. The IITs collectively aim to add 4,000 BTech seats each year till 2020 and 6,000 MTech and research seats each year over the next three years.

4. What about hostels?

As per the proposed change, IITs aim to open its doors for non-resident students, by waiving the condition that makes it mandatory for students to stay on campus at present. This means students will have the freedom to attend classes even from their homes if they live in the same city as their college and thus save the money spent on hostel and food.

5. Is this a good move?

The overall effect of the proposed seat increase and allowing non-residents to study at the prestigious institutes would be known in some years. For now, it opens up an exciting opportunity for engineering aspirants as more of them won’t have to knock the doors of private or other colleges now.

6. Are IITs equipped to handle these many students?

IITs are facing faculty shortage to the tune of over 2000. With an increase in student intake, the pressure on existing faculty and infrastructure will increase further. To address this, IITs and the Union government will have to act fast to maintain the value of ‘Brand IIT’. Last month, Javadekar had said that Modi Govt is committed to position IITs among the best institutes of the globe, he said. Referring to the 2000 faculty vacancies in all the IITs, he expressed confidence of it being filled with enthusiastic researchers within.

7. What other proposals were passed by the IIT Council?

The IIT Council approved the launch of ‘PM Research Fellowship’ for about 1,000 BTech students. Under the programme, the engineering graduates will register for PhD immediately after finishing their course. The scheme aims to reverse the brain drain as students will have research options within the country. The council also decided to introduce a three-week induction course to help new students adjust when they join the IITs.

8. What about the project ‘Vishwajeet’?

‘Vishwajeet’ proposes to provide additional support and funds to IITs, especially the top seven — Delhi, Bombay, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Madras, Roorkee and Guwahati — so that they can reach the top 100 in Global University ranks by 2018 and top 50 by 2020. However, no decision could be taken on this on Tuesday.

9. Any proposal on increasing the number of girl students on IIT campuses?

The Joint Admission Board of IITs has set up a committee to explore ways to increase the enrolment of girls. As per reports, there was a 2% decrease in the number of girls who passed Jee Advanced this year. Also, none of the girls made it to the top 100.

10. Will increased intake lower the quality of education at IITs?

It may unless IITs improve faculty strength and become more innovative in imparting education at the earliest. If the premier institutes aim to beat the best in the world over the coming years, it can’t afford to carry on with the conventional methods of classroom teaching which often bore the students, putting them out of the classrooms. –  Courtesy

University in Bhopal to launch engineering courses in pure Hindi

Shruti Tomar |  Hindustan Times, Bhopal |   Aug 24, 2016 |

In the years to come, don’t be surprised if a qualified engineer points at a train and calls it a ‘lauhpathgamini’. Simply tell yourself that the person is a graduate of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Hindi University (ABVHU) in Bhopal.  The educational establishment will soon launch engineering courses in pure Hindi, with probably not a single word of English being uttered in class. This exercise would be the first of its kind in the country.  In this course, all technology-related terms would be referred to in Hindi – no matter how complex they may seem. For instance, automatic gain control would translate to swatah labdhi niyantran, unsymmetrical bending to asammit bankan, dielectric strength to paravidyut samarthya, reflex oscillation to prativarti dolan, and add multiplexer to yojak bahusanketak. Even the course syllabi would be free of any sort of colonial hangover. SHT got its hands on a copy of the first-semester syllabus of the course, and it was found to contain subjects such as bhautik vigyan (physics), ganit (maths), abhyantriki yantra-vidhya (engineering mechanics), abhiyantri aalekhiki (engineering drawing), bharat gyaan aur parampara (Indian culture) and Hindi.

 A three-member panel prepared the syllabus in six months on the basis of the All India Council for Technical Education’s choice-based system, with help from the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology. However, some believe the course makes use of words that could be difficult even for experts in Hindi to understand. “This is undoubtedly a good initiative, but translating technical words into Hindi may create problems for students. Hindi-medium students face problems only when the terms are explained in English. They don’t have any problem with the terminology itself,” Subhash Excellence School senior physics teacher Gulab Singh said, adding that it would only make things harder for students.  Others have raised doubts over the employability of those graduating in such a course. “English has become compulsory for people to land jobs in multinational companies. In such a scenario, how will students who have been taught engineering in chaste Hindi succeed in life? They will have to learn all the technical terms in English again,” said Yogendra Kumar, a professor of electrical engineering at the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology. However, the university administration believes its students won’t face a problem as long as their technical credentials are sound. ABVHU vice-chancellor Mohanlal Chhipa said, “Knowledge is not based on any language. The engineers graduating from our university will be technically sound. We will ensure that instead of applying for jobs, they will provide jobs to others.” –  Courtesy

Nod to enhance the student intake in all programmes by almost 50 per cent over the next three years in IITs

The Telegraph | Wednesday , August 24 , 2016 |  Special Correspondent |  Nod to step up seats in IITs

New Delhi, Aug. 23: The IIT Council today gave in-principle approval to a proposal to enhance the student intake in all programmes by almost 50 per cent over the next three years.  The council, the apex body to decide on IIT matters and headed by human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar, asked the 23 IITs to assess their capacity and come up with a roadmap on how many seats each of them could increase every year to achieve the overall proposed increase from 21,500 now to 31,000. IIT rules demand all students stay in hostels. Since building them takes time, the IITs will allow fresh students taking admission in MTech and PhDcourses from next year to stay outside the campus.  “The proposal for increasing seats has been approved in principle. Each IIT will now analyse the faculty strength and facilities and prepare a roadmap on how to go about it,” a director said.  The main hurdle will be poor faculty strength. While each IIT is supposed to maintain a ratio of one teacher for 10 students, the ratio now is one for 15. Javadekar told reporters after the meeting that the IITs would try to fill the posts by attracting Indians with PhDs working in foreign institutions.  The council decided to start a Prime Minister’s Fellowship to encourage BTech students to pursue PhD. BTech graduates from IITs with good performance will be able to seek direct admission into PhD and get the PM Fellowship of Rs 60,000 per month for five years.  At present, students pursuing MTech and PhD in IITs after clearing the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) also get scholarship, which will continue. An MTech student gets Rs 12,400 per month while a PhD student gets Rs 25,000 per month for the first two years and Rs 28,000 monthly in the next three years under the existing GATE scholarship.

Javadekar said a Global Research Initiative Network would be launched to facilitate collaboration with IITs and foreign institutions for student exchange on joint research projects. The ministry has already launched the Global Initiative of Academic Network (GIAN) under which foreign faculty are being invited to Indian campuses to take a few courses; 260 foreign faculty have already visited in the last one year and another 800 would come in the next one to two years, Javadekar said. The council okayed introduction of an induction course prepared by IIT-Banaras Hindu University on how students should conduct themselves and approved Project Vishwajeet that aims to help IITs get good global ranking. IITs are losing out in world rankings because of poor peer perception, Javadekar said. “The IITs will now tap the Indians living abroad, the Indian students pursuing higher education abroad, to change the perception about IITs,” the minister added. The council gave in-principle approval for start of an aptitude test to screen engineering aspirants. Nearly 30 lakh students appear for engineering entrance tests in the country every year. About 12 lakh appear for the JEE-Main conducted by the CBSE. The top two lakh are allowed to take the JEE-Advanced for admission into IITs. Once the aptitude test comes into force, all aspirants will have to take it. The successful students will be able to take further engineering entrance tests. The council decided the IITs should conduct a pilot aptitude test in the next one year after which how to roll it out would be decided. –  Courtesy

Now, students from Government engineering colleges in Tamilnadu to go abroad: Jaya

The Times of India | TNN | Aug 24, 2016 |

CHENNAI: Students from government colleges will now have a chance to go out of the country and study like their counterparts in private colleges.   Annually, about 100 students from 10 government engineering colleges will be sent to foreign universities and colleges for a period of 15 days for technical training, announced chief minister J Jayalalithaa in the assembly on Tuesday. Expressing a wish to also see government college students get similar opportunities that private college students enjoy, the chief minister said that this project would be taken up at the cost of 1.5 crore.  Jayalalithaa said over the last 5 years, four government engineering colleges have been set up along with 42 arts and science government colleges, 16 government technical colleges, one national law school and one ICT institute.  The government is also spending 10 lakh to train engineering students and graduates for the engineering services examination. The fund will be used to set up 10 centres in Chennai, Dharmapuri, Coimbatore, Trichy and Tirunelveli districts. During the assembly on Tuesday, the CM said the state stood first in the country with regard to the percentage of people pursuing higher education. –  Courtesy

Kerala’s startup Profoundis gets a big boost from US-based FullContact

The New Indian Express |  Express News Service  |   23rd August 2016 |

 KOCHI: Kerala’s nascent startup industry got a big boost on Tuesday after US-based FullContact announced the acquisition of Profoundis, incubated at the Startup Village in 2012 and emerged as a successful firm providing technology enabled human verified data research platform. This is the first-of-its-kind acquisition in Kerala’s startup community. Funded by a group of angel investors since mid-2015, Profoundis was founded by a group of enterprising technology professionals who were batch-mates at the College of Engineering, Chengannur, Kerala. Profoundis was the first company from Kerala to get selected to the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme, one of the three companies to get selected for ‘Start-Up Chile’, an initiative by the Chilean Government in 2013. FullContact’s purchase of Profoundis follows $25 million in new funding, which the company will use to accelerate its growth, recruit global talent and fund further acquisitions.

“Our goal is to be the smartest, most comprehensive, and most up-to-date address book on the planet.” said Scott Brave, CTO, FullContact. “The only way to truly achieve that is by integrating the best of human intelligence with machine intelligence. Profoundis is a key element of that strategy.” FullContact will integrate all of Profoundis’ 70 employees, most of whom will remain in Kochi, into its global workforce and add human-based data research to its growing list of capabilities supporting its strategy for expansion and rapid growth. This combination will establish FullContact as a market leader in data quality and data breadth across its contact management solutions for individual professionals and businesses and have a direct impact on the company’s revenue and sales. “As a strategic partner, Profoundis has been instrumental to adding value and increasing the effectiveness of our data solutions for our clients,” said Bart Lorang, co-founder and CEO of FullContact.  “Together we can further accelerate the growth of FullContact as we continue to build the most powerful fully-connected contact management platform for professionals and businesses.”  The deal amount was not disclosed.  –  Courtesy

Profoundis becomes poster boy for Kerala startups  :   Express News Service | 24th August 2016

KOCHI: In a first of its kind development in the startup ecosystem of Kerala, US-based FullContact acquired Profoundis, a technology firm based at Startup Village, for an undisclosed amount.   Founded by classmates Arjun R Pillai, Jofin Joseph, Anoop Thomas Mathew and Nithin Sam Oommen at Chengannur Engineering College in 2012, the acquisition of Profoundis has scripted history in the State’s startup scene.   The company provides an intelligence service called ‘Vibe,’ which sits in the user’s email account and surfaces information about the contacts, much in the same style as Rapportive, the plug-in that was acquired by LinkedIn in 2012. FullContact is a contact management platform for professionals and enterprises.  “Being a part of the FullContact team allows us to further execute on this mission globally, and together our users will benefit by having more detailed information about their contacts, which would allow them to be even more awesome with people,” said Profoundis co-founder and CEO Arjun R Pillai who will be FullContact’s head of Data Strategy. The two companies have been partners since one year prior to the deal.

  Post acquisition, FullContact will integrate all of Profoundis’ 70 employees into its global workforce and add human-based data research to its growing list of capabilities supporting its strategy for expansion and rapid growth. Most of the employees will be based in Kochi.   Profoundis is the first strartup from Kerala to get selected to the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator programme in 2013. Then, it went on to raise an undisclosed seed fund after one year. The company participated in the Startup Chile event as well.   “As a strategic partner, Profoundis has been instrumental in adding value and increasing the effectiveness of our data solutions for clients. Together, we can further accelerate the growth of FullContact as we continue to build the most powerful fully-connected contact management platform for professionals and businesses,” said FullContact co-founder and CEO Bart Lorang, adding that the company would look for ‘potential startups’ in Kerala.   Profoundis co-founder Jofin Joseph said the acquisition would encourage more funding into Kerala startups, whose visibility is pretty low.  “It is the embodiment of the idea that people without any business background can actually start a company and can make it big. If we could do this, anyone can do,” he added. –  Courtesy

KTU (Kerala Technological University) ties up with Cambridge English

The New Indian Express |   By Express News Service |   24th August 2016 |

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: THE Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Technological University has tied up with the Cambridge English Language Assessment, an initiative of the prestigious University of Cambridge, with the objective of improving the communication skills and enhancing the employability of engineering students in the state. With the partnership, students of the engineering colleges that come under the purview of the university, formerly known as the Kerala Technological University, who take Cambridge English’s Business Certificates (BEC) examinations will earn 50 activity points that are needed as part of the completion of their degree.  “Along with their technical skills, if the students can also demonstrate that they have the necessary language skills, the chances of a top corporate organisation picking them during campus placements will definitely increase,” said T K Arunachalam, regional director (South Asia) of Cambridge English.

According to the official, BEC is accepted by universities, colleges and business schools world over and also offers a proof accepted by many leading corporate organisations that the student has necessary English language skills needed for study, work and life.  Arunachalam expected around 80 colleges under the technological university to pilot the language programme this year. “The programme will be conducted during the first two years of their course and in two to three years down the lane, we are expecting to see the results,” he said. He added that the not-for-profit organisation will support teacher training for the programme free of cost through workshops aimed at teachers from engineering as well as arts and science colleges in Kerala.  As part of furthering the agreement, the officials conducted a seminar, titled ‘Transforming your students: From campus to workplace’, that was attended by the heads of the engineering colleges. –  Courtesy

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Cloud computing centre, a fillip to engineering education in Tamil Nadu

The Hindu | 

The cloud computing centre that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa announced in the Assembly on Tuesday would help researchers in Anna University to store and mine large volume of data. The aim is to increase storage facility as servers are not large enough, said a university official.  The need for such a facility had been felt as researchers could not access all libraries for their subject of interest. The aim is to create a single state facility to enable e-learning process. “It will help to download and store information among universities. It will also help to verify certificates from other universities. In a sense it is part of e-governance,” the official added. The university has been allocated Rs. 50 crore for developing an audio-visual centre where video lectures would be recorded and uploaded for the benefit of engineering students across the State.  The university is also set to develop a research facilitation centre, which would help in product development. “Basically when new research goes on within the community, knowledge about it is limited. The International Centre for Facilitation and Training was initiated in the Vision 2023 document,” said J. Kumar, Director, Planning and Development of the university.  A student with a new idea can dip into the repository to check if anyone has mooted it earlier. “Generally when an academic has an idea the only aim is to publish the research. This centre will help to develop the idea, patent the product and take it forward,” he said. The university proposes to have regional nodal centres and would also hold annual exhibitions of such products that industry could take up for development, Prof. Kumar said.

The facility would help researchers access all libraries  to broaden their knowledge .  –  Courtesy

BeInDemand by Udacity aims to upskill 1 lakh engineering graduates by 2017

The Hindu Business Line |  New Delhi, Aug 22 |

Online education company Udacity in collaboration with Venturesity aims to bridge the skills gap in IT industry through innovative learning solutions and targets to upskill 1 lakh engineering students by 2017. In order to bridge the hiring challenge in the IT industry in the country, Udacity has launched it’s #BeInDemand campaign which helps engineers to upskill themselves., it said. “Big data, data science, mobile and cloud computing will drive jobs in the IT industry in the next decade. With our new campaign #BeinDemand we are aiming to upskill 1 Lakh engineering graduates across the country and make them easily employable for the best in the industry,” Vardhan Koshal, Country Head, India at Udacity, said. –  Courtesy

Be In Demand  :  BeInDemand is an initiative by Udacity where we partner with selected engineering colleges in India to upskill outgoing graduates for the most in demand jobs.   –    https://in.udacity.com/college/


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