Hans Hoyer, Executive Secretary of Global Engineering Dean Council (GEDC) and Chairman, International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) visited Bennett University, Greater Noida as part of the International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education (ICTIEE). In a freewheeling interaction with Professor Deepak Garg, Head, Computer Science Engineering, Bennett University.
What according to you are the issues related to transformation in Engineering Education in context of the fast-changing society.
Issues of transformation in different colleges and universities typically related to engineering is on top of the agenda of my visit. Before starting on this, I want to make a point to remind all of you my host, friend, my Indian and International colleagues, that we are part of global community increasingly interconnected with learning from one another. It is of utmost priority that through our sustained communication we find common vision, common cultural grounds and commitments that impacts student’s future leaders of Indian society and the world. So, I focus very much initially on the notion that we are part of global community and I invite the faculty and students that are present here to engage more actively globally.
I focus on issues that I can sense after interviewing many engineering Deans in several countries across Europe, Latin America, Middle East, North America and Africa and asking about their initiatives, their experiences related to transformation of their respective institutions. And I think a key point that I wanted to stress in this analysis is the key role of the inspiring leaders, Deans and faculty.
The key task of these tall leaders is to really work hard and build a strong team; because to transform many institutions is not the work of one individual. It requires leadership to engage, motivate the faculty and you need to find good faculty, associate team and support staff to able to do quality work.
You need this vibrant and synergetic team to interact with good students and create a community of mutual learning through communication.
I think a piece that I think is very important for global education leadership is working in motivating the new generation of engineering students to engage. So, I formed a global student platform called SPEED that has become active recently and producing wonderful results.
You are very proactive about the collaboration between Industry and Academia. How it helps in long run?
Other important part of the work is to facilitate to support the collaboration (I call as win-win strategy) between companies, industry and the academic community. It was three decades back that I visited India for the first time. After that I have a very lively and persistent touch with India through my visits and my interaction with Indian community. I am still learning. I feel there is a lot of room to strengthen the relationship between the industry and academic community.
To involve industry perspective in the curriculum/ teaching will help in building new relationships and will enable students to have hands on practical experience in the preparation of future profession. So, through this platform provided by Bennett University by hosting this three-day conference, people will get a chance to identify different linkages with industry and other prospective collaborators. I have been part of the journey in executing some successful partnership collaborations with the industry in India and the world.
Kindly speak specifically about quality of education due to the curriculum not being adequate to upgrade skills for engineering students and the way forward.
Well, there is lot of challenges in Indian Engineering Education. Bennett university is young university, I am seeing a vision for the next ten years seeing the impact it would have to make. It takes strong leadership, financial resources, support of governments and support of companies to motivate new generation to join a budding start-up University.
This institution is just two-year-old, and I understand the tremendous learning process every stakeholder must go through. A couple of key concepts that I want to stress is the ability to network and learn from the positive experiences and from the failure of other institutions. And to have partnership and have a dialogue with leaders and faculty of other institutions here in India and the world.
India is very important country in context of population and other historical facts. It is important in terms to learning. We know there are over 13000+ colleges, Universities in India. And I know you have some very excellent institution of Higher Education, colleges, universities, No doubt. But others don’t have same history and are facing many challenges.
Major challenge is to have the faculty that enhances the adequate preparation of the delivery and can motivate the students. In the process of growth, to make a meaningful impact to prepare the best students, to meet the need of Indian society; the numbers are tremendous. You require millions of jobs. We need serious preparation.
Do you think, India having large sized population doesn’t have prepared faculty to reach out, to train, to provide the adequate education.
If we talk about huge numbers, then India and China are in same band. I also worked in China, there were tremendous challenges in terms of reaching out, and giving adequate training. I think mentality of people at higher positions is one of the points to ponder upon. Indian culture respects elders who are in the position of authority.
But many times, people at position of authority are not necessarily those that are most knowledgeable. And to create an environment in which people can learn. I am a father of four children, I am a father of five grandchildren. I learn from my children.
So as a professor, as a leader, I want to learn from all generations. I think that mentality, that outlook is many time missing in academic environment over the world. I as a dean or university president, I am all knowing, No, I know something, some experience, but other individuals have something to teach me. My students can teach me, they have taken birth in the world that I don’t have. I think to me it’s a big challenge for many academic institutions.
In the end, I will appreciate the young team of students, faculty and leaders like you who are taking Bennett University forward and I hope that it will serve the purpose regarding the existing challenges in the Engineering Education and contribute in a positive way.
Fist Published: TimesOfIndia