Making students industry-ready

Making students industry-ready

With hundreds of colleges producing nearly half-a-million students each year, Indian engineering education has expanded in the last few decades to accommodate the growing demand both from the students and from the industry. However, the system is yet to effectively address questions regarding the quality of its output and the shortfall in research qualifications of its graduates.

The questions are particularly serious in IT and related disciplines, where the system has only barely able to satisfy the industry’s requirements in terms of skill sets.

Though many acknowledge that the need to create the right environment for research is rather urgent, there is also the widespread recognition that the system needs to be helped. In this context, the launch of the Indian Council of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), an organisation of computing professionals, is regarded significant.
Fresh look at curriculum

“Our priority is to work with people from various regions of the world, and India — having become an important destination for IT solutions and services — is certainly on top of our list. Though we’ve had members from India, this is the first initiative to set up an independent council in the country to oversee academic and scientific progress in the country,” said Prof  Dame Wendy Hall, President of ACM. She is the first person from outside North America to head ACM. 

About 18 ACM members from India are kick-starting the initiatives to set up the council in the country, placing advancement of education as a priority.

Strengthening skills
They believe that ACM, with its experience of setting standards for computer science subjects and accrediting US universities, brings with it the right mix of expertise and understanding of Indian situation to create change.

“Certainly, engineering institutes which have multiplied in the last few years need support in terms of improving their quality of education,” said Dr Mathai Joseph from TCS, one of the members of the council in India. “We want to explore ways of working with the government in getting the right standards, but we would also focus on helping the system itself. We are looking at activities like teacher training and improving the overall standard of the curriculum.”  Compute 2010, the event ACM held last week following the launch of the Indian Council, had a panel discussion on ways of improving research in India. Though the health of IT and computing as a profession is good in India, ACM members say an environment must be created for pursuit of the subject as a science.

What is ACM?
Established in 1947 in the United States and headquartered in New York, ACM is the world’s largest educational and scientific society for computer science, whose expertise and  resources is remarkable.

“We have about 9,70,00 members who range from computer professionals, technical managers and researchers,” said John White, Executive Director and CEO of ACM, who was in Bangalore recently to launch the India Council of ACM. 
Out of the 1,00,000 members, 27,000 are students, either learning or researching computer science. Apart from the opportunity to network with some of the industry’s best minds in computing, they can also access ACM’s digital library that contains scientific papers and articles on important technological aspects of computing. They can also make use of 45 periodicals the society publishes and read about the trends in various technologies presented at any of the 150 conferences that ACM organises across the world.

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