As we know that employability of the engineering graduated has recently declined to a historically low that has caused a panic among the educators in India. Technical education – a professional degree program is supposed to provide hands-on learning in several disciplines of engineering and technology. These professionals are supposed to solve the real life challenges and to improve or facilitate the lives of the individuals of various walks of life. The classroom learning involves understanding the technological concepts with appropriate mathematical treatment. However, to effectively learn several technological concepts of any engineering program, it is important to apply those technological concepts to solve some real life application based problems in order to reinforce the real potential of those concepts and to learn the underpinnings and limitations of those concepts.
Often times, the classroom teaching is focused on covering lot of fundamental concepts with appropriate mathematical treatment but little focus is given on the real life industrial case or application based exercise. In absence of the application of the studied concepts, the mathematical analysis of the concepts remains meaningless and as a result of that, students forget those concepts quickly or after passing the exams. This methodology of teaching converts the technical education to a “rote learning” and thus leaves a significant gap between the industry expectations and score of the degree examinations. It is therefore essential that application or case based teaching methodology is developed and adopted to make technical learning effective so as to bridge the gap between examination scoring and an ability to solve the real life engineering problems.
At JK Lakshmipat University, Institute of Engineering & Technology; one of the best engineering institutes in the country, the focus of the educational programs is application and case based learning. This approach provides the students a real purpose of the technical education and not merely a degree. The case based learning at JKLU starts from the classroom itself. While teaching a subject, after introducing certain technological concepts, the students are given a relevant published research paper about that concept. In this exercise, the students are trained to identify, understand, interpret and critically analyze the studied concept in a certain application scenario which they can relate to a certain useful product. That way student practice and learn how to use that studied concept to solve some real life industrial problem. This way of the pedagogy helps students to retain the studied concepts and create or develop the new solution; thus making students more creative rather than rote learner. Other way of imparting active learning among the students at top universities in Jaipur like JKLU, is to assign some real problem based projects to the students in a group of 4 or 5 students. The project assigned to the students is aimed to develop a novel solution to an existing technological problem. In this process, the students read many research papers and after careful analysis, they come up with an experimental plan that could be a promising solution to the chosen problem. This approach makes the students a real explorer to the technological solutions and helps to develop their creativity and impart problem solving skills.
The chosen problem could be for example, improving the mechanical properties of automobile parts while reducing their weight in order to bring better fuel efficiency. The students may choose a combination of alternative smart materials such as stronger and light weight polymeric composites to meet both the requirements of higher performance and light weight. The project based learning develops team work skills, data gathering skill, ability to apply studied subject concepts and adapt the concepts to a particular problem. This helps them to connect with the scientific community e.g. researchers, industry professionals and improve their prospects of getting useful employment at the end of their studies. Further, students participate in two practice schools (industrial trainings) apart from the intensive practical laboratory based education to work on the real life industrial projects in their related disciplines. This helps them to apply the theoretical concepts to solve an industrial problem. The application or project based learning at one of the best universities in Jaipur, Rajasthan, JKLU thus helps to develop abilities to think creatively and to build team work skills, develop innovation based thinking and effective application of the technical concepts. This generates employability and develops entrepreneurship and leadership skills among students to produce high quality engineers for the growth of the nation.
About the Author:
Dr. Murari Gupta has more than 9 years of academic and research experience in the United States of America, Germany and India. Dr. Gupta was a DAAD-IIT fellow at University of Stuttgart, Germany in 2001 for about nine months. He earned his MTech from IIT Delhi and PhD from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, USA in polymer and fiber engineering and subsequently worked as research scientist at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA; Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL and Howard University, Washington, DC in areas of polymer surface science and carbon nanotube based polymer composites. Dr. Gupta has published 12 research papers in reputed national and international journals and presented his research in several conferences in the United States and India. Dr. Gupta received prestigious Fast Track research grant from the Science and Engineering Research Board, Department of Science and Technology Govt of India for working on carbon nanotube – epoxy polymer composites. Dr. Gupta is an invited peer reviewer for research papers and book proposals by some leading research publishers including Wiley, Elsevier and the Fiber Society. Dr. Gupta’s current research interests are in multifunctional polymer carbon nanotube composites and functional polymeric coatings. Dr. Gupta is currently working as an associate professor in the Institute of Engineering & Technology, department of mechanical engineering at JK Lakshmipat University. Before joining JK Lakshmipat University, Dr. Gupta was an associate professor in the school of engineering at JECRC University.