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Engineering courses galore, but no data on how many engineers of what kind

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The Times of India | Hemali Chhapia | TNN | April 22, 2016 |

Mumbai: Are you an electrical engineer or a computer science graduate? If they are often asked this question by confused recruiters, the government is equally unclear about the number and kind of engineers that the nation produces.  In a young country where engineering is one of the most preferred professional careers, there is no clarity on the count of students who graduate in each discipline. How many mechanical or electrical engineers do we produce? No one knows.  It is the battery of engineering courses with outlandish labels that is to be blamed for the situation. India has 234 degree and 399 diploma courses in engineering. “All that is being consolidated now. Although it is taking some time, we are working on streamlining the course tags,” said AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe. While the problem may seem elementary, this fundamental faux has left India with no statistical information on engineers in the country who have specialized in various disciplines. It has left a blank when it comes to an analysis of any sort on the reams of students who have passed out over the years and joined the workforce. The problem, as an AICTE official said on the condition of anonymity, also leads to several handicaps. “First, there is no historical data. Second, if this is not corrected now, it will be impossible to plan for the future in terms of schematic expansion or even if we need to cut down on growth.” For instance, he added, there is no central agency that maintains data on graduating engineers. And, there is no information on stream-wise breakup of engineers either.

Decades ago, an engineering education was the sole domain of the government. In 1980, when the sector opened up, experts felt that the core engineering sectors must be taught by state colleges only, said former AICTE chairman S S Mantha.  “But students only queued up for core subjects. So private colleges would change the names of the course a bit and apply for government approval,” added Mantha. Getting an academic bona fide was simple. The central template of the course from a government college was picked. With a bit of tweaking and rewiring, a new programme was designed around it and renamed. For instance, when the electronics boom started, different courses such as power electronics, electrical communication, electrical and electronics engineering (see box) and a whole range of programmes with varied names were offered. What’s more, consolidating this list now isn’t easy either. “For instance, is the electrical engineering and computer science more bent towards electronics or computer science?” asked Mantha.  The task may be Herculean. “It is unfortunate that the AICTE has approved different nomenclatures for basic engineering courses and increased the number of undergraduate engineering programmes, which is suggestive of the downfall of engineering education,” stated a report authored by ICT vice chancellor G D Yadav.  Experts say the fact that there are 42 degree programmes in electrical engineering and electronics, all with “outlandish nomenclature”, indicates that these have been created for the convenience of private institutes. “A new college has to start with a minimum student intake of 300, distributed equally among five branches. Different nomenclatures benefit profit-minded institutes that want only popular disciplines,” said a member of the committee, which analyzed vacancies in professional courses and suggested remedial measures to the Maharashtra government.  –  Courtesy


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