Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology (NMIT) is an autonomous institution affiliated to the Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), with the approval of UGC and accredited by National Board of Accreditation (NBA) under Tier-1 scheme and National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC-UGC). A unit of Nitte Education Trust, Mangalore, it is the youngest engineering college in India to be conferred the autonomous status by UGC/Government of Karnataka in 2007. It is the only unaided private engineering college in Karnataka, selected by the government of India for World Bank funding under TEQIP Phase II- Subcomponent 1.1 in the year 2011.
Dr N R Shetty, advisor and director, NMIT and president, Indian Society for Technical Education, New Delhi, is the guiding spirit in the continuous success of the institution. He speaks to City Express about the institute in particular and the education scenario of the country in general.
Being a renowned educationist, what are the qualities of Nitte that you are profoundly impressed with?
Nitte is built in such a way where profit is not the motive. We believe in wholesome education and quality is paramount. Therefore, a lot of focus is on encouraging faculty to undertake research. NMIT represents the very best of what an institute can be — a diverse community of talented people who enrich our society through education, research and service. NMIT’s students come from every walk of life and share a commitment to excellence. Our world-class faculty includes many who are the top scholars in their fields.
We have 48 PhDs among our staff and 60 working for PhDs. So R&D activities are of utmost priority while also encouraging student development. Our talented staff provides the critical infrastructure without which we cannot fulfill our mission.
Tell us about the main areas where R&D is focused on.
The institution is involved in research and development in the cutting edge areas of engineering and science viz. image processing and computer vision, advanced manufacturing, VLSI & embedded systems, control systems, robotics and artificial intelligence, micro electronics, MEMS and nanotechnology. We also have collaborative projects with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a laboratory Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR), also under DRDO, Naval Research Board (NRB),a research board of DRDO), National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU), Kritkal Solution- New Delhi, Fluidyn Software - Bangalore and Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR).
Speaking about the quality of our education system as well as the institutions in the country, how impressed are you?
In terms of quality, internationally, none of our institutions find a place even within the top 200 and these institutions include premier ones like IISc, IITs, etc. However, our higher education system, particularly technical education, has expanded to such an extent that even people from the lower middle-class can afford to get a degree in engineering. But the challenge is the amount spent on education. The government is also not spending enough to raise the quality.
But, looking at the student population, where the percentage of middle-class is predominant, in spite of all shortcomings, we are doing a fairly good job. We are the youngest country in the world and therefore, our young population is getting equipped with the type of background which is acceptable.
But do you agree to the perception that only a few percentage of students passing out from colleges are found to be employable by the industries?
I do not agree. It is just a perception. Industries want a prospective employee to be ready from day one itself, thus avoid the training period and the costs involved. Of course, shortage of funds to maintain certain quality of employable youth is definitely a fact. The government should change its policies from treating education as a charitable activity. It cannot be fixed in the bracket of charity.
How about the quality of faculty? Are you satisfied on that aspect?
Finding good faculty is indeed a major challenge. In the West, the brightest minds opt for teaching. Here, few years ago, it was like that, but not now. Although, in the last few years, salaries have gone high and there are so many advantages given to teachers in the last 5-10 years, but still the message has not percolated down to everybody.
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