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AICTE: Don’t downsize teaching faculty for 1:20 ratio

Deccan Herald |  Prakash Kumar | New Delhi | DH News Service | Jul 18 2018 |

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) has directed all engineering colleges and other technical institutes to not down size their existing faculty to meet the mandatory teacher-student ratio of 1:20. The technical education regulator, which recently revised its regulations to fix the teacher-student ratio at 1:20 as against the previous 1:15, issued a notification on Tuesday to clarify that the ratio can only be adjusted either in case of superannuation of the faculty or in case the faculty resigns on their own. Downsizing the teaching faculty due to the revision of faculty-student ratio norms will not be accepted in any case, the council said.

This comes after a large number of faculty members of technical institutions, particularly those run by private entities, came against the new faculty-student ratio norm of the AICTE, apprehending their removal from their job by the institutions.On behalf of the teaching, non-teaching and the students of private engineering colleges, the All India Private Employees Union founder K M Karthik a few months ago posted a petition on change.org website against the revised teacher faculty ratio norm of the AICTE,. soliciting for support from the people. This (revised) ratio is an open consent of the AICTE, by which about one lakh of qualified engineering professors (all of them are postgraduates in Engineering / Sciences and Humanities) working under the existing 1:15 ratio, shall be removed from their present employments in private/self financing engineering colleges all over India, he claimed.The AICTE clarified that it revised the faculty-student ratio from 1:15 to 1:20 in the interest of students as well as the institutions. – Courtesy   /    Click here to view / download – AICTE Circular / Public notice – 17/07/2018 No Down Sizing the Teaching Faculty due to Revision of Faculty Student Ratio


New rule to mandate accreditation for two-thirds programmes in colleges

Times of India | 18 July 2018 |

Chairman of All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) which regulates technical institution across the country Anil Sahasrabudhe believes that a regulator should not limit itself to inspection, it should also be a facilitator. In an interview with TOI, the head of the national-level apex advisory body talks about where engineering colleges are going wrong and why TN colleges are suffering.

Q: AICTE is known to conduct surprise inspections. What were the major problems found during these inspections? A major issue is fake names of faculty members on the list of colleges. Although we have relaxed the student-faculty ratio from 1:15 to 1:20, there have been institutions who don maintain the minimum ratios. Several of these colleges show a ratio of 1:30 or 1:50. Worse, the faculty register has names of people who are not employed by the institute. Last year, more than one lakh names of faculty members were weeded out across colleges after inspections. Now, we have started asking colleges for Aadhaar and PAN cards of teachers so that they cannot show inflated numbers. Another issue is that many of these colleges are not paying salaries of teachers as per the prescribed standard.

Q: What were the problems you encountered while inspecting Tamil Nadu institutions? In the past three to four years, a major concern in the state has been that less than 10% of the seats are filled in many engineering colleges. For any institution to function well, 50% to 60% of the seats need to be filled. This is needed to pay the teachers, maintain equipment and ensure overall quality of the institution. When there are not enough students, the pay of faculty members gets affected, good teachers are not sustained and in turn admissions suffer when the quality goes down. It becomes a cycle. Because colleges do not want to cut down on intake, we are forced to close down institutions. For colleges that are unable to ensure the sufficient number of new entrants, the approval process handbook provides options of starting courses for skill development, applied arts and sciences so as to utilize the existing manpower and resources. However, many are not aware of the guidelines in the handbook.

Q: Do we need a single accreditation body to regulate all institutions? When it comes to technical institutions, we have only two the National Board of Accreditation (for programme-based accreditation) and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (institution-based accreditation). In the general scenario of education, having multiple agencies is not a bad idea as it may help in simultaneous accreditation of multiple institutions through different agencies given the large number of institutions we have in the country. What we need is a team of people who have integrity and can carry out the process fairly to prevent corruption in these processes.

Q: How important is accreditation in impacting the existence and approval of colleges in future? For the first time, we are going to introduce a rule where colleges may risk losing approval if two-thirds of their programmes are not accredited. Starting from this academic year, the colleges will have four years to achieve this. This is a suggestion that came from the ministry of human resource development. Q: With regard to architecture schools, the council of architecture and AICTE individually carry out inspections. Some schools have been complaining The two bodies should ideally carry out a joint inspection to make the process simpler. We have spoken about this with the council. They initially agreed but somehow it has not translated into practice. The only way forward would be through amendments to the AICTE Act; so that the apex body has full power to carry out inspections across architecture schools.- Courtesy

Accredited courses a must for approval – The Hindu, 18 July 2018

Institutions were given four years to comply, says AICTE

In another four years, it would become mandatory for every institution to get accreditation for 2/3rd of its courses to receive approval, AICTE Chairman Anil D. Sahasrabudhe said here on Tuesday. He was speaking at a workshop for institutions in the five southern States to discuss the feedback on approval process for the current academic year and the suggestions for 2019-2020 at the Anna University. The MHRD and the Niti Aayog had come down heavily on the Council for approving institutions with unaccredited courses, he said. “If of the six programmes in a college four are not accredited, then the approval may be withdrawn. This is a regulation requested by the ministry to be implemented by the AICTE in order to maintain quality of standards in the institution,” he said.

The Chairman said he had sought four years’ time to comply with the requirement. “We told them that overnight it is very difficult to accredit 10,000 institutions,” he said. The Council would facilitate institutions in preparing self-assessment reports. Niti Aayog had also insisted that institutions should put up all details regarding accreditation pending/process on their website, Mr. Sahasrabudhe said. To a complaint from an institution in Udupi that the AICTE’s regional office was unresponsive he said the Council would open a Facebook page for the institutions to discuss with the chairman their issues. On the concern that institutions with a NAAC score of over 3.26 were permitted to start courses and increase intake he said the Council reserved the right to withdraw the approval if written, signed complaints of violation of norms are received. The council had approached the different boards of studies to give their requirements to enable the council ensure that the norms are followed, Mr. Sahasrabudhe said. The Council was working on signing special accords as required for courses such as architecture and pharmacy to improve opportunities for students, he added.Anna University Vice Chancellor M.K. Surappa urged institutions to adhere to the systems and processes and not deviate or dilute the system. – Courtesy

Engineering aspirant? Rs 2,500 fee, free laptops and bikes at BE, BTech colleges in Gujarat state

Financial Express | FE Online | New Delhi |  July 13, 2018 |

The rising number of vacant seats in engineering colleges across the country has now led authorities to devise a new marketing strategy in order to lure students into joining the course.

If you thought that engineering, once considered the most alluring career options for Indian students alongside medicine, has lost its charm, you may want to reconsider. Engineering colleges in the western state of Gujarat are giving away free laptops and two-wheelers to woo students. While the reason behind such large heartedness may not exactly paint a rosy picture of the popularity of the course, but these colleges do know how to keep things interesting. The rising number of vacant seats in engineering colleges across the country has now led authorities to devise a new marketing strategy in order to lure students into joining the course. Engineering colleges are now offering lucrative things like laptop and two-wheelers to woo students to join the courses with vacant seats.  As per a recent report, an engineering college in Gujarat is charging an annual tuition fee of Rs 2500 after a majority of their seats went vacant. Another college has hired commission agents to bring students. B.Tech/ B.E. colleges are also offering free laptops and two-wheelers to lure students to join the course. According to an Ahmedabad Mirror report, the management in some colleges has lowered fees to somehow fill up 30% of the seats as the AICTE has clearly stated that colleges with less than 30% admissions for five years will be shut down.

This year in Gujarat, 34,642 seats out of 55,422 in engineering colleges remained vacant after first round of admissions. Colleges have henceforth started providing free laptops and two-wheelers to students apart from offering several discounts including reduced fees in the name of scholarship, complete waiver of first-semester fee, half transportation and hostel fee at the end of four-year course to those who pay entire course fee by a single payment. In recent times, engineering that used to attract the creme da la creme students has lost its sheen. In a report that came in May this year, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) approved only 36 engineering colleges that can provide degrees to students with just 66 diploma institutes being approved. As per a report by Indian Express, the total number of B.Tech and M.Tech seats this year, across all AICTE-approved institutes, has dropped by 1.67 lakh, which is almost double the dip witnessed in 2017-18. The undergraduate and postgraduate engineering intake was 16.62 lakh seats last year and 17.5 lakh seats in 2016-17. It was also reported that All India Council for Technical Education is all set to shut down nearly 200 ‘substandard’ engineering colleges over the period of next 12 months. – Courtesy

NEET and JEE (Main) exams to be conducted twice a year

ND TV | Shihabudeen Kunju S (with inputs from PTI) |  July 08, 2018 |

National Testing Agency or NTA will be replacing the competitive exams related functions of CBSE and will conduct NEET and JEE Main exams twice in a year from next year.

New Delhi:  National Testing Agency (NTA) will be replacing the competitive exams related functions of CBSE and will conduct NEET and JEE Main exams twice in a year from next year. NTA will also conduct UGC NET, CMAT and GPAT, later two were used to be held by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE). So far, The Central Board of Secondary Education or CBSE has been organising National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) on behalf of the Medical Council Of India and the Health Ministry and NET on behalf of the University Grants Commission (UGC). Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main has been held by CBSE on behalf of Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry. JEE Main is being held as an entrance examination for admission to engineering courses and as also a screening test for JEE Advanced, its scores have been used for admission in institutes like IITs and NITs. NEET is national level medical entrance examination and its scores have been used for admission in medical and allied courses across the country.

Common Management Admission Test (CMAT) is a national level entrance examination conducted by (AICTE) every year as per the directions of Ministry of HRD and this test facilitates Institutions to select suitable graduate candidates for admission in all Management programs. Graduate Pharmacy Aptitude Test (GPAT) is another national level entrance exam conducted by AICTE and this test facilitates institutions to select suitable Pharmacy graduates for admission into the Master’s (M.Pharm) program. With the introduction of NTA, CBSE, the national level secondary school and higher secondary school education regular which control 19316 affiliated schools in India and 211 schools in 25 foreign countries, will be relieved from its competitive examination duties. This has been a long standing demand of the central school body to relieve it from the examination duties other than its annual all India secondary and higher secondary examination duties. In 2016, the board had approached HRD Ministry and had expressed its inability to conduct the exams due to capacity crunch.

CBSE has been authorized to conduct NEET and JEE Main since the inception of both national level entrance examinations. In recent year, the board was also assigned to organise the UGC NET, a national level teacher eligibility test for recruitment in universities and colleges. CBSE also conducts the school level teacher eligibility test – CTET–, but, in today’s announcement by HRD ministry, there was no mention on who is going to conduct this examination in the future. UGC NET would be the first exam to be conducted by the newly formed body. The CBSE is all set to organise – probably the last UGC NET exam organised by it – CBSE UGC NET 2018 exam on July 8. The NTA would also conduct CMAT and GPAT. But, there have not been any updates on dates of these exams today.

Starting from next edition, the UGC NET exam will be computer based, said HRD minister.

How many times you can appear

According to HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, the students can appear both the times in NEET and the best of the two scores would be taken in account for admission. Two chances will give a choice option to the students especially if they fail to appear in a test due to unwarranted circumstances.

Standard of the exams

Under NTA, these exams will be more secure and at par with international norms, claimed the minister. “There will be no issues of leakage and it would be more student friendly, open, scientific and a leak-proof system,” Javadekar told the reporters here.  NTA is expected to bring in qualitative difference in the examination process by its focus on research and scientific test design using services of Experts, Researchers, Statisticians, Psychometricians, Test Item Writers and Education Specialists.  “The item writers would be trained to ensure that the quality of questions is as per the test design. The experts, statisticians and item writers/subject matter experts are already identified for being inducted into NTA,” said a statement from HRD.  “The new system will be student friendly, fair , transparent and flexible,” the Minister added.


The NTA would benefit the students and they would have the option of going to computer centres from August-end to practice for the exams. The tests would be computer-based. The exams would be held over a span of four-five days and students would have the option of choosing the dates, the minister said.


The syllabus, question formats, language and fees for the NEET, JEE Main and NET exams would not be changed. The time table of the exams to be conducted by NTA would be uploaded on the ministry’s website.

JEE Advanced

According to HRD Minister, the Indian Institutes of Technolog (IITs) would continue to conduct JEE Advanced exam.  – Courtesy

Need for patent search awareness stressed

TelanganaToday  |   5th Jul 2018 |

Visakhapatnam: Though India ranks fifth in the globe in terms of research publications, it is way behind with a poor 52nd position in Global Patent Index which shows there is dire need for creating awareness on patent search and filing methodologies among researchers and Start-up communities, according to Chairman and Managing Director of National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) H Purushotham. He was speaking at the inaugural function of a two-day advanced training and workshop on ‘Patent search’ which is being jointly organized by NRDC-Technology and Innovation Support Center in collaboration with Andhra Pradesh Innovation Society (APIS), Govt. Of AP., Visakhapatnam, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Cell for IPR Promotions & Management (CIPAM) under the Department of Industrial policy and Promotion (DIPP), Govt. of India.

The initiative taken by NRDC, WIPO, CIPAM and APIS would facilitate creating awareness about Patenting in the country, he stated. Mr. Andrew Czajkowski, Head, ITSS, WIPO, Mr. B. K. Sahu, Manager and In-charge, NRDC-TISC & IPFC, Visakhapatnam, Prof. V. Valli Kumari, CEO, APIS, Dr. V. Keasava Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University (DSNLU), Dr. Anitha Rao, Director, DSNLU, Dr. Muttyalu Naidu, Vice-Chancellor, Adikavi Nannaya University (AKNU), Dr. KVS N Raju, Vice-Principal, Sagi Ramakrishnam Raju Engineering College (SRKREC) and other dignitaries attended. NRDC-TISC has entered into Memorandums of Agreements for commercializing IP’s and technologies with three Universities–DSNLU located at Sabbavaram in Visakhapatnam, AKNU at Rajahmundry, and SRKREC at Bhimavaram and Kakinada. NRDC is engaged to broaden and strengthen the technology resource base by fostering long-term relationships with R&D organization, MSME’s, PSUs, academia, technical organizations, industries and also individual inventors. The MoA was signed and exchanged in between Dr. H. Purushotham on behalf of NRDC and Dr. V. Kesava Rao, Dr.Muttyalu Naidu and Dr. K. V. S. N. Raju.

This MoA will provide expert services in IPR management, Technology Transfer, training, Techno-commercial evaluation of technologies developed by faculties/students, linkages with research funding agencies, linking to Startup India Mission and other relevant services. The resource persons were represented from CIPAM & TISC and other Government of India organizations. This workshop was aimed to present in-depth knowledge on various IP search databases and enable navigation steps of searching for patent literature for finding out the state of the art of technologies. The programme highlighted the key concepts on patent search, providing visibility on various prominent Search Tools and Strategies. More than 130 participants have taken part from various MSMEs, Start-ups, Industries, Universities, Research institutes, Academia and other prospective entrepreneurs. – Courtesy

Interested and relevant stakeholders may view live video training workshop sessions ( Duration 2:46:30) on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIkJGwc0DdI

IITs to roll out more women civil and mechanical engineers

The New Indian Express | 01st July 2018 | Sumi Sukanya dutta |

NEW DELHI: The Indian Institutes of Technology are set to churn out more women civil and mechanical engineers as many of the 779 female-only seats, added this year, have been allocated to the two streams. With the Joint Seat Allocation Authority (JoSAA)—the seat allocation and managing authority for 23 IITs—coming up with the first round of seat allotments three days ago, about 250 female-only seats in all the institutes were offered in the civil and mechanical engineering streams. “It has been done because girl students often prefer computer, electric and electronic engineering over the two main engineering branches. But now we are giving them more options,” a senior JoSAA official said. “This happens because of the mindset that civil and mechanical engineering involves strenuous activities like handling machines and visiting construction sites. But it is far from the truth.” The most sought-after streams in the IITs are computer science and electrical engineering, followed by mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, engineering design, civil engineering, chemical engineering, metallurgy, biotechnology and naval architecture.

This year, at the behest of the Union Human Resources Development Ministry, the IITs were asked to create 779 supernumerary seats for women—in addition to the 11,279 seats on offer —to take their percentage at the undergraduate level to at least 14. Another JoSAA official said more seats were offered in these two streams to girl candidates to encourage them to become a part of the IIT system. “Very often girl candidates fill in few choices and fewer centres, and when they do not get courses of their choice they choose not to take admission. But this year we are offering them a plethora of options by creating seats in streams that were earlier not available at many IITs,” he said.  “We will also encourage them to go for the new courses during the counselling process.” Of the total number of students who took admission in IITs in 2017, the percentage of girls was a dismal 9.3. Following this, the government formed a committee of the Joint Admission Board of the IITs to suggest ways to improve the gender balance at the prestigious institutes. The panel, in its report submitted to the government, said about 3 lakh girls enrol in engineering programmes every year but only 8-9 per cent end up at the IITs. This prompted the ministry to set a target of enrolling about 20 per cent girls in the IITs by 2020. – Courtesy

Private engineering colleges likely to downsize faculty

Times of India | Aparajita Ray | TNN | Jun 28, 2018 |

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BENGALURU: The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) directive allowing engineering colleges to have one teacher for every 20 students may prompt Karnataka’s private institutions reporting poor admissions year on year, to downsize their faculty. AICTE norms had earlier specified a teacher student ratio of 1:15.  While VTU has urged managements of private engineering colleges not to pinkslip their faculty, it admits it has no control over them whatsoever.

But varsity officials say colleges that have had admissions as low as 32% last year will certainly look at the new directive as a cost-cutting measure. “On an average, private engineering colleges in state reported only 68% admissions last year, while nationally, the figure was only 50%. Many reputed private engineering colleges in the state saw admissions between 32% and 40%. For self-financed institutions where admissions are lower than 50%, having three or four extra teachers is a burden. We cannot do anything if the colleges remove faculty,” they said.  MK Panduranga Setty, chairman of RV College of Engineering, said, “NAAC and NBA accreditation requires colleges to have a teacher-student ratio of 1:12. And we follow that. The problem occurred because many colleges, that neither have a good rate of admission nor the money to spend on faculty, have pressured AICTE and VTU in Karnataka to shut such colleges. Those colleges following higher standards of education and having accreditation cannot afford to lose both and reduce the number of faculty.” He is also secretary of the Karnataka Unaided Private Engineering Colleges Association. KM Babu, principal, BMS College of Engineering, said they would maintain the ratio at1:15 as the quality of education will drop if teachers are burdened. “In fact, there is a dearth of good faculty, while colleges are mushrooming,” he added. There are about 240 engineering colleges in Karnataka. – Courtesy

AICTE tweaks ratio, 12,000 engineering teachers get pink slip

Times of India | Ram Sundaram | TNN |  Jun 27, 2018 |

CHENNAI: Nearly 12,000 engineering college teachers in Tamil Nadu have lost their jobs owing to the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) changing the teacher-student ratio from 1:15 to 1:20. The scale-down has happened, ironically, in a state where 40 % of engineering graduates are considered unemployable, because of poor quality of training they received. Tamil Nadu, with more than 550 engineering colleges and 10 lakh students, is the state with the most number of such institutions in the country.  As per the old ratio of 1:15, TN engineering colleges should have appointed 66,000 teachers, but many did not adhere to the norm. “Colleges had only about 55,000 teachers on the payrolls,” said K M Kartthik, founder of Private Educational Institutions Employees Association. Many of the sacked teachers had at least 10 years of experience and were earning more than Rs 40,000 per month, he said. An associate professor in Chennai, who was sacked this May, said he has to dig into his meager savings till he finds a job. “There is no vacancy for teaching staff in engineering colleges here. Some colleges in Andhra Pradesh are trying to take advantage by offering teaching jobs at half the pay. Brokers too demand 20% of the salary every month.” A woman female assistant professor from Coimbatore said her colleagues, who were fired along with her, tried their luck at marketing firms. “But they say we are overqualified. We are left with no choice,” she said.  Karthick said many colleges are trying to exploit the situation, cutting staff and recruiting new employees who were ready to work for four-digit salaries. P Selvaraj, secretary of Consortium of Self-Financing Professional, Arts and Science Colleges said some of these teachers had come to the profession leaving industries. “When the industries were not doing well, many of them thought teaching would be a better career. See how wrong they were,” he said.

Anna University officials confirmed large-scale job cuts, but refused to put a number to it. People at the AICTE regional office in Chennai refused to comment.  A senior official from the state higher education department said the number of students joining engineering colleges has come down, adding to the drop in teaching jobs. More than 1.2 lakh of the total 2.73 lakh first year seats have gone without takers last year. Official data shows that 30% of engineering colleges have two-thirds of their seats vacant. “The colleges have no option but to follow the AICTE norms. The staff strength has to come down as admissions have dropped,” he said.   “Contrary to arts and science teachers who handle classes for more than 20 hours a week, most of the teaching staff in engineering colleges, particularly heads of departments, work for less than eight hours a week. Salaries of teachers account for 70 % of our total expenses. Without enough number of students, why should we have excess teachers in place?” said Selvaraj, who owns a group of colleges in Trichy. – Courtesy

AICTE tells colleges not to sack faculty … Read more

Only 13% of Prime Minister’s research fellowships (PMRF) likely to be offered

The Indian Express | Ritika Chopra | New Delhi | June 23, 2018 |

A total of 43 selected students — the highest — have been offered research opportunities in IISc, followed by IIT Bombay (24) and IIT Delhi (20).

The government is likely to offer only 135 out of the 1,000 fellowship positions announced under the recently launched Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) this year, The Indian Express has learnt. Announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in the Union Budget earlier this year to fight ‘brain drain’, the PMRF aims to give 1,000 students direct admission to doctoral (PhD) programmes in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting-edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities. The opportunity, however, is limited to students who have either completed or are pursuing the final year of their B Tech or integrated M Tech or integrated M Sc from either IISc, IITs, National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST) or Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs).  As per the latest status report, shared by IIT Hyderabad —tasked with screening applications and final selection — out of the 2,035 applicants interviewed across 18 disciplines, about 135 have been offered direct admission to PhD programmes in IISc and IITs in Mumbai, Delhi, Madras, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Roorkee, Guwahati, Hyderabad and Gandhinagar.

A total of 43 selected students — the highest — have been offered research opportunities in IISc, followed by IIT Bombay (24) and IIT Delhi (20). The biggest chunk of admissions offered have been cornered by candidates seeking to pursue research in mechanical engineering (26), material science and metallurgical engineering (24), interdisciplinary programmes in science and engineering (21), electrical engineering (21) and civil engineering (20). Stringent selection procedure, government officials say, is the reason behind utilisation of just 13% of fellowship this year. “This is the first year of the fellowship and the IITs and IISc set the bar really high for screening candidates. We want the brightest minds for this fellowship. The response is expected to improve with each passing year,” said a senior official, without wishing to be named. Under PMRF a fellow will receive a monthly stipend of Rs 70,000 in the first two years of research, Rs 75,000 in the third year and Rs 80,000 in the last two years of PhD. That apart, each fellow is also eligible to receive an annual research grant of Rs 2 lakh. While launching the scheme in February this year, HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar had said that the fellowship is expected to attract best talent in the country, which could go a long way in addressing faculty shortage in the country. “The initiative will convert brain drain into brain gain,” he had said then. – Courtesy    /     https://pmrf.in/

Engineering and human life – a curious resemblance

Business Standard | IANS |  June 22, 2018 | Vikas Datta | Opinion |

Engineering and human life – a curious resemblance (Book Review)

Title: 101 Things I Learned in Engineering School; Author: John Kuprenas (with Matthew Frederick); Publisher: Three Rivers Press; Pages: 216; Price: Rs 499

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Nature is termed the best teacher. This is not only because our existence depends on striking concord, or at least a compromise, with it, but because in studying it, we find the fundamental inter-connectedness between us and the world we flourish in. And out of all academic disciplines, it is engineering that shows us how.  Prima facie, nothing could seem more distanced from the human condition than engineering, which is concerned with how to devise, design, build, run and maintain structures, machines, materials, devices, processes and so on by skillfully applying science and mathematics.  And then it needs years of intense study involving mastery over abstract concepts, difficult mathematical calculations and specialised knowledge of at least two basic sciences (physics and chemistry) and maths. But if we leave our preconceptions of engineering as highly technical subject, we will be surprised with the points of resemblance.

Force (or influence in human terms), pressure, stress, support, problem-solving, creative thinking, and so on are as important to human life as engineering, as experienced civil engineer and instructor John Kuprenas shows us in this lucid introduction to the principles of engineering and the mindset its practitioners need. “Engineers view their profession as fascinating, creative, and full of interesting challenges. Those outside it often regard it as repetitive, mechanical and frustrating,” he observes, but notes that common to both views is that it is indeed complex.  Kuprenas, who lectures on the subject at the University of South California and California State University, Long Beach, and is Senior Vice President of the STV Group’s Construction Management Division, however recalls from his own experience that the intense grounding in mathematics, physics and chemistry in the initial years of the engineering course does not provide much “real-world context”. It is this context he seeks to present in this engaging and insightful book of a 100-odd facts, principles and examples, which seeks to introduce engineering through its real-wold moorings “by emphasising the common sense behind some of its fundamental concepts, the themes intertwined among its many specialities, and the simple abstract principles that can be derived from real-world circumstances”. Say, understanding the difference between accuracy and precision, what happens when force acts on an object, why there is always a trade-off, why some get stronger by doing more work, or when perfect reliability may not always be desirable — all these can well be applicable to the human condition too. Then there are the some more “mysterious scientific” issues such as why buildings want to float and cars want to fly, or why keeping one hand in your pocket while touching an electric appliance may save you from a major shock, why some parts are designed to fail and why soldiers should not march on a bridge — as some non-science readers might remember from their obligatory physics classes.

Interspersed are some examples of the success or failure of various structures, mostly bridges, or products (largely US-centric though) which also provides a more tangible example of how engineering works — or doesn’t. Also offered, along with some splendidly evocative illustrations to all the 101 entries, are some interesting historical nuggets and some random hypotheses. While Kuprenas mostly focusses on his field of civil engineering — which we learn is the oldest branch — with occasional forays into other branches such as mechanical, chemical or engineering, he lays the discipline’s basic thrust which is that “the heart of engineering isn’t calculation; it’s problem-solving”.  Also that while all engineers calculate, good engineers also communicate — and very cogently and persuasively.  With this, and more examples beyond the ones cited above, he goes on to show that engineering is not only meant to benefit humanity in its basic and other comforts, but closely approximates their own life, in both structure, influence and performance, to make the compelling case that “engineering events are human events”. While this book may help engineering aspirants to understand what the field entails, and even some engineers might learn a thing or do, it is the curious lay reader it is directed at — and will prove to be a rewarding read in showing how things in our world are intertwined. – Courtesy