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What makes a good Engineering Student?
By Mohan Shenoy

        The present structure of education is faulty and can not make a good engineering student in the natural course.

        The causes of unpreparedness for jobs of an engineering graduate are hidden in the structure of our education. The preparation for jobs of an engineering graduate should begin at an earlier level than now. The Engineering courses are usually entered into after a grueling 12 years' learning in the schools.

        A student these days learns the subjects such as languages, basic mathematics, basic sciences, civics, basic computer science, etc., in the years from nursery to 8th class.

        By the time the students pass the 8th class, most of them should be able to select their future career. The parents can also guide their wards to select the career at this time. The parents can influence the minds of a 14-year old girl or boy more easily than the minds of an eighteen-year old person in selecting a career.

        The subjects such as history, geography, languages and civics, etc. that are now taught in the classes 9th to 12th are of little use to an engineering student.

        Most of the difficulties faced by the engineering students arise during the years they are in the High School and PU college. Here they get bored to death because of stress on passing the examinations. They might also fall prey to bad habits because of this boredom.

        For a student who chooses his career in engineering, the Engineering courses should commence from 15th year of age and last for 4 years, in his 9th to 12th years of learning. These courses can be properly named as pre-engineering classes and engineering classes.

        These classes are held in either the existing schools that run the 9th to 12th years' classes, or in the engineering colleges, preferably the latter. These courses will avoid burdening the engineering student with subjects such as history and languages. The subjects such as history, languages, and others are for those students who are specifically interested in them and they will learn these subjects through self-study in their free time and at leisure.

        There should be minimal number of subjects that are ear-marked for tests and examinations so that more and more subjects are learnt on the basis of self-study at the student's free-will and free-time without the encumbrances of tests and inspections.

        The learning years 9th to 12th should be used in imparting the engineering student the subjects of mathematics, chemistry, biology and physics. These subjects should be re-written as special engineering-oriented syllabus. The subjects taught in the present 9th to 12th classes in the high school and the pre-university classes are all not needed for an engineering student.

        Engineering colleges must teach syllabus that is specific to engineering courses, and properly focused in relation to the careers in engineering. The syllabus should be short and compact and leave the details and extensions to the student to learn as part of his self-study. By the end of the 12th year of learning, or earlier as an option, the student will further specialize and select one of the branches from among many branches such as mechanical, electrical, computer science, architecture etc.

        At the point of 13th year of learning (or about the 18th year of life) the engineering student would have focused his study including the self-learning, on the specialization of his choice, and the course can be curtailed to two years instead of the present four. The engineering degree can be conferred at the age of 20 years.

The proposed Structure of Education for Engineer's Career.

Nursery and Kindergarten: 3rd year, 4th and 5th years of life (common for all)
Primary school: 6th to 10th years (common for all)

Lower Secondary School: 11th to 14th years (common for all)

Engineering Course: Pre-Engineering Classes 15th and 16th years

Engineering Classes: 17th to 20th years. (All inclusive)

        Selection of students for engineering courses after the 8th class will ensure their future careers. Selection is based on the marks in the 8th class, certified by the class teacher. The school leaving or board examinations and PU examinations can be eliminated for Engineering course. Entrance is based on intention to take up an Engineering career. Qualification needed is 8th pass.

        The engineering students' progress will be entirely gauged by the institution itself. The reputation of the institutions will ensure the quality of the education they impart, and the competency of the students that they put out. No marks, only grades. The degree is conferred on the letter head of the institution. For smaller schools an association of schools can be formed to confer the degrees.

        The institutions should be totally autonomous in administration and finance. The governments should grant aid on the basis of performance. Employment only after one year of trial cum training following graduation.

        This revolutionary change in structure can be brought about only by the efforts of the engineering schools themselves, by speaking as one voice, which later will be accepted by the Education Department of the Governments.