Students enrolled in any engineering discipline will have the study of ’emerging courses’ as part of their curriculum. For the relatively newer streams, including computer science, electrical, and electronics engineering, these ’emerging courses’ will be mandatory. Emphases will be given to interdisciplinary engineering courses moving ahead. These are some of the suggestions of the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in its recent report.
AICTE has recognised Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Embedded SW, Internet SW, Mobility, Analytics, and Cloud as some of the emerging courses.
Institutes will be allowed to launch new courses only in the emerging fields. Further, newer combinations such as engineering with biology will be introduced including subjects like computational biology, biotechnology, biomedical, mechatronics, environmental engineering etc, the advisory body has also recommended.
These recommendations are aimed at addressing the ‘skill gap’ in engineering and training the next generations of engineers to be ‘future-ready’, states AICTE. The greater issue the Indian higher education institutes are, however, staring at is to find experienced and expert faculty in these fields.
“We have held 200 faculty development programmes in the past one year in these areas and aim to hold 500 programmes in the coming year. In each programme, 40-50 members are trained for three to five days. Of course, they cannot become experts over a few days, they will also be given access to platforms where they will be able to learn on their own. We are engaging faculty to become life-long learners,” said Anil Sahasradudhe, chairperson, AICTE.
The process, he informed, will continue for several years. While there are nine sectors in emerging fields, teachers they have to choose one subject. These sessions are provided by faculty from IITs, industry players and foreign-based researchers, informed Sahasradudhe.
IITs have already started providing AI courses, mostly with industry partnerships. Vineeth N Balasubramanian, head of the department of AI at the IIT-Hyderabad, believes India cannot wait for faculty training to reach every corner of the country before starting teaching these courses. IIT-Hyderabad is one of the firsts to have started an undergraduate degree in AI in India.
“Generally speaking, we do have a paucity of AI teaching capability across the country and every institute is trying to train their faculty in the area. But educating students and up-skilling faculty should go on simultaneously; we cannot wait for one to end to start the other. Sometimes you learn something best by teaching it. When it comes to AI, we need an ideological change and start treating it more fundamentally as it cuts across streams rather than treating emerging technologies as specialisations of computer science. This is one of the reasons why most courses in the domain are limited to master’s level courses,” said the computer science professor.
Among other suggestions, AICTE has asked to make internship, project work or entrepreneurial activities mandatory which will count as 14-20 credits in every undergraduate engineering course. As per rules, one credit is equivalent to a minimum of 40-45 hours of work. It also asked institutes to use open book examinations method wherever applicable to move students to higher order cognitive skills. Open book exams were approved by AICTE for engineering courses last year.
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