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Chemistry on the way out for BE engineering students?

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The New Indian Express | By Ashmita Gupta  |  ENS  |  20th March 2017  |

CHENNAI: Should engineering students study Chemistry?


A debate on this is on among Anna University professors as the university’s Syllabus Committee has been mooting the idea of scrapping papers on Chemistry in a few BE courses. The idea to do away with Chemistry paper for BE students was discussed in the panel meeting about three months ago, said a section of professors who are against the move. The students of several engineering streams like Civil and Mechanical Engineering usually have a paper on Chemistry during the first or second year of the course.  While a few professors said a decision has been made in this regard, officials of the Centre for Academic Courses denied it. “We discussed the idea, but no final decision has been taken. It can be done only with the approval of the Board of Studies, Syllabus Committee and the Academic Council,” said TV Geetha, Director for Centre for Academic Courses.  But a section of professors are strongly against the idea. They believe that basic sciences like Physics and Chemistry are fundamental to several engineering concepts.

“One cannot study Mechanical Engineering without first learning about metal composition, thermal composition, oil composition, ignition and all the related principles that are applied in engineering. Strong fundamentals are necessary to understand these subjects,” said A Pandurangan, Head of Department of Chemistry, Anna University.  A professor of Madras Institute of Technology, Chromepet, which also functions under Anna University, has a similar argument. “In Aeronautical Engineering, to learn about fuel, an understanding of basic Chemistry is essential. A student may not understand what a bio-fuel is if he has not studied Chemistry,” the professor says on condition of anonymity. He says many students don’t want to learn tough subjects like Chemistry since they are not interested in pursuing a career in their field of study, but take up a job in the IT industry. Due to such reasons, the university must not compromise on its syllabus, argues professors who oppose the move.  Not all arguments of Chemistry professors are based on the importance of the subject. Some also candidly said they are worried because their livelihood will be affected if the basic sciences subjects are scrapped from the syllabus. According to sources, Chemistry and Physics papers are already replaced with papers on latest engineering subjects like electronic devices and circuits for students of part-time BE courses offered by the university. “All the energy-related subjects require an understanding of basic Chemistry. But adding new subjects will be a burden on students. So the university has decided to remove the basic sciences,” said another professor of the university. –  Courtesy

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