Dr R Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSG College of Technology explains how they improved the quality of education offered through its ties with Danfoss India
Danfoss India’s first Centre of Excellence aims at enabling PSG College of Technology to prepare industry ready engineers. Not only will it reduce the industry academia gap but also redefine curriculum and teaching methods to be in sync with industry standards.
The 5WH in brief
Who: Dr R Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSGCollege ofTechnology,Coimbatore
What: Spearheaded the establishment of the Danfoss India Centre of Excellence at PSG College of Technology.
When: Established 2013
Why: To improve the quality of engineering education imparted.
Where: Campus of PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore
How: By improving the college infrastructure, by redefining the curriculum, by involving students in live research, and by ensuring that faculty’s technical skills get aligned with the latest industry advancements.
Dr R Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSG College of Technology
PSG College of Technology (PSG),Coimbatore, owes its existence and strong industry linkages to its founding body, the PSG & Sons’ Charities Trust. In 1951, the founders established the college on the premises of PSG Industrial Institute, which designs, manufactures and distributes motors and pumps, with the aim of fostering industry interactions through that business’s existing setup and wider network.
Developing close ties with industry has always been a top college priority. To this end, PSG motivates students to take on projects that are meaningful for industry, and do summer as well as winter internships in industries. It periodically introduces value added courses in its syllabus to meet current industry expectations about student awareness levels of technology.
The industry-academia gap
Introducing value-add courses and prioritising industry internships are valuable means to reach out to industry. But it does not help understand the evolving needs of industry for trained engineers, and continuously meet those needs. Nor does it help expand a college’s academic resources and infrastructure, which is needed to train students on latest technologies. Nor does it prepare faculty for delivering advanced courses and guiding students on industry-relevant projects. Nor does it provide continuous avenues for students to engage with ‘live’ research projects.
According to Dr R Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSG College of Technology,Coimbatore, “All of these objectives can be fulfilled only by establishing formal ties with industry. An effective way for colleges to foster a working partnership and continuous interaction with a company is by inviting (and inspiring) it to establish a Centre of Excellence on the campus.”
This is easier said than done. “Corporations want to see a solid track record of working closely with industry prior to investing in a college’s infrastructure,” explains Dr Rudramoorthy.
Partnering for better education
The PSG campus is home to the Agilent Centre of Excellence and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency funded Centre of Excellence. Over the last decades, PSG has established linkages with companies in the automotive, aerospace, defence, textile, machine tools, software development, and consumer durables sectors. Positive feedback from industries like LAPP India (a cabling solutions company) and FESTO (an industrial control and automation company) also helped Dr Rudramoorthy motivate the Indian subsidiary of Denmark based industrial company Danfoss to set up its first Centre of Excellence (CoE) in India on the PSG campus. Dr Rudramoorthy is certain that the new CoE will go a long way in improving the quality of academics at PSG. Here’s why:
FILL LACUNAE IN EXISTING ACADEMIC/RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE: The tie-up with DanfossIndiahas given PSG access to current technologies in power semiconductor modules, harmonic filters, digital Variable Frequency (VF) electrical drives, HVAC components, and software to communicate with electrical hardware drives and perform parameterisation. The estimated value of these technology products and software is Rs.40 lakh. Danfoss has committed to update this equipment at regular intervals. PSG has also pitched in to create the CoE. “We spent Rs.40 lakh to create the centre and will bear the running and maintenance cost,” shares Dr Rudramoorthy.
REDEFINE SYLLABUS AND LAB EXPERIMENTS: The syllabus of certain undergraduate programmes (Electrical & Electronics, Robotics & Automation, Instrumentation & Control, Mechanical), post graduate programmes (Power Electronics & Drives, Control System, Embedded & Real Time Systems) and online study material used as reference has been reframed based on the availability of the new facilities. In sync with industry emphasis on energy efficiency, PSG has instituted one credit courses in energy and climate. Lab sessions now make use of the new equipments and industry based applications. “Students can learn more and learn better because of the immersive practical experiences,” says Dr Rudramoorthy.
FACULTY TRAINING: DanfossIndiaprovides technical training to PSG’s faculty members at regular intervals, to strengthen their technical knowledge and bring them up to speed with latest industry developments. According to Dr Rudramoorthy, “Technologically aware faculty makes better student guides. The quality of student’s projects improves when teachers are exposed to cutting edge technologies.”
FOSTER LIVE RESEARCH: Being aware of the technical challenges faced by DanfossIndiaopens many research avenues for students. DanfossIndiaactually directs its customers to the CoE, and asks them to brief students about their application of VF drives. Students are expected to improvise on these existing applications of the company, and develop ones consuming with less energy. Developing variant technologies for providing high quality of electrical power is another research objective.
“Involving students in live research, in live testing labs, improves their understanding and technical skills and, in turn, makes them industry ready,” opines Dr Rudramoorthy. He expects the new CoE will birth innovative solutions to meet the current and future energy challenges facingIndiaand other developing countries. To encourage final year students take up meaningful energy efficient technology research, DanfossIndiaoffers Best Innovation Project awards—two cash prizes worth Rs. 1 lakh and Rs. 75000 for undergraduate as well as post graduate students.
STUDENT PLACEMENT: Danfoss India offers three internship placements to diploma students, three placements to undergraduate students and five placements to post graduate students. Six of these students are regularised as per the company’s norms after they complete their course of study.
Benefits of aligning
Aligning education with industry needs proves extremely beneficial when it is time for students to find jobs. According to Dr Rudramoorthy, “A major positive is the new lab is giving students hands on exposure to applying the variable speed drive concept to save electrical energy. This awareness is relevant to different industries—aqua, textile, cement, paper, HVAC and automation. We expect the number and quality of placements in companies from these industries to go up in the coming years.”
Faculty and students alike are appreciative of the new facility. According to Dr B Vinod, Head of Department, Robotics & Automation Engineering, “The new Centre of Excellence has helped our department/college to take up consultancy projects for small scale industries, on automation to conserve energy.”
Now if only more centres of excellence come up across India, how much more aligned academicians would be with industry.