By offering something to industry professionals from different walks of life, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay is building a community of dedicated takers for its Department for Continuing Education Programmes
Since being launched in 1951 in Kharagpur, brand IIT has come a long way. By far, the institutions have become renowned in India and the world over for their enterprising graduates. “And the best way to serve beyond those who take admission to regular programmes, is by giving working professionals an opportunity to better their skills and through that, enhance their ability to contribute to industry,” opines Dr Bijnan Bandyopadhyay, Professor- in-Charge, Continuing Education & Quality Improvement Programmes Office and Professor, Systems and Control Engineering, IIT Bombay.
Serving working professionals is challenging because different aspirants have different goals. Some aspire to stay abreast with advancements in critical areas of technology to widen their knowledge base. Others seek to widen their skill base to improve promotion prospects. Over and above these individual aspirations, industrial houses see in IIT-B a partner who can help them become globally competitive and design tailored courses to develop their human resources. On its part, IIT-B also wants to build bridges between its different departments and industry, to promote positive interactions between its faculty and working professionals.
Multiple course choices
In response to industry expectations, since 1988, IIT-B’s Department of Continuing Education Programmes has created multiple avenues to increase access to its education programmes and reach out to industry and participate in nationbuilding.
REGULAR CONTINUING EDUCATION PROGRAMMES:
Working professionals can sign up for regular post-graduate level semester courses and slowly work their way through these, attending three lectures each week in the evening hours or early morning hours. Credits they earn can be transferred and counted towards an M.Tech degree at IIT-B provided they are admitted to those courses through the regular stream.
QUALITY IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMMES:
These government and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) sponsored short courses are open for faculty members of engineering colleges. As “train the trainer” courses, these aim at improving the quality of engineering education being imparted across India.
Another AICTE-sponsored option allows teachers from engineering colleges to pursue full-time M.Tech and Ph.D. programmes at IIT-B. Here they get a chance to revisit the curriculum from the students’ perspective. They return to their institutions after completing the course.
IITB’s open courses attract doctors and management professionals alike to study the topics that interest them. Typically, open courses are intensive and spread over 2 to 5 days. Many of these include hands-on experience in IITB’s labs. According to Professor Bandyopadhyay, “One of the institution’s most popular open courses is one on Piping Engineering. Launched in 1990, it made IIT Bombay the first university in the world to conduct a formal training programme in Piping Engineering as applied to process plant design, engineering and construction. Over 64 editions conducted in the classroom have benefited more than 8,000 engineers of different ages, from across the world.”
Tailored short and long courses are run exclusively for a specific company or organisation, on demand. These can be held either at IIT-B or the company’s premises. For instance, the Indian Police Service has requisitioned IIT-B to design and annually deliver a sixday in-house course on “The role of technology in crime and crime prevention.” IPS officers and officers of other paramilitary organisations like CISF,
CRPF and RPF are beneficiaries of this course funded by the Ministry of Home Affairs and Bureau of Police Research and Development, New Delhi. Each year, the Bureau of Police Research and Development nominates 15-25 officers for the course. Typical topics are: Wi-Fi Cyber Crimes, Cyber Crime and Internet Security, DNA analysis in Forensics, Application of Imaging in Police
Department, Optimal Sensors for Pathogen/Explosive Detection, etc. Since in-house programmes are designed on-demand, these help create close ties between the organisation and IIT-B. In recent years, IIT-B has limited the companies from which it accepts requests to design custom courses, to exclude third-parties. “We insist that only companies and organizations whose own employees need training can ask for assistance. We are not in the business of designing courses to be offered join-tly with others,” clarifies Professor Bandyopadhyay.
To maximise the number of menrolments to its continuing education programmes, IIT-B offers these courses directly as well as through online. Online courses are more comprehensive, offering about five times the content of the contact course. Online courses use information technology tools very effectively and help engineers to learn engineering concepts in a convenient place, at a pace that suits them. Certain features make these courses effective, such as user-friendly design, easy-to-understand language, confidence-building mock examinations, solved examples and tutorials, and animations and movies to explain engineering drawings and documents. IIT-B’s Certificate Course on Piping Engineering is now available to engineers in both the contact as well as the online mode.
In serving industry, IIT-B is redeeming itself. Last year, IIT-B conducted 50 open courses, each attended by an average of 30 participants. The institute conducted 41 in-house courses. A couple of participants enrolled in each of 37 post-graduate level courses which are open to industry people. Also, IIT-B is playing a major role in enhancing the quality of engineering education, taking on groups of 30 trainees at a time through its Quality Improvement Programmes.
“In the near future, we expect the number of participants per course to increase to 60,” adds the futuristic professor. Also, continuing education programmes bring in valuable revenue. Last year, IIT-B earned six crore rupees through this route. Fees are shared between the faculty and institute in the ratio of 70:30.
“Continuing education programmes benefit industry as well as motivate faculty to push the boundaries of course design because they are remunerated for going the extra mile,” concludes Professor Bandyopadhyay. Truly a winwin situation.