Prof. P.B. Sharma Vice Chancellor, Delhi Technological University (DTU)
The Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), (initially established with the name - Delhi Polytechnic) came into existence in the year 1940 as one of the affiliated colleges of Delhi University (DU), to cater the needs of Indian Industries for trained man power with practical experience and sound theoretical knowledge.
On July 1, 2009, the college was upgraded with the University status and is now known as the Delhi Technological University (DTU).
In a tête-à-tête with NNE, Prof. P.B. Sharma, the first Vice Chancellor of the DTU envisions it as a “leading World Class Technology University, a key node in National and Global Knowledge Network”.
After a long association with the Delhi College of Engineering (DCE), how does it feel becoming the Founder Vice Chancellor of Delhi Technological University (DTU)?
It is a great privilege to be the Founder Vice Chancellor of this historic institution, which is the mother institution of several world renowned institutions including Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, School of Planning & Architecture and College of Arts. It was a great opportunity for me to serve this institution from December 1990 onwards and build it as a world brand in tech education, research and industrially relevant innovations. Upgradation of DCE into DTU and having been appointed its founder Vice Chancellor brings added responsibility on all of us in the DTU community to shape this prestigious institution into a world class technological University. To this end my vision is to make, “DTU a leading World Class Technology University, a key node in National and Global Knowledge Network which will empower India with the Wings of Knowledge and Power of Innovations.” We wish to translate our vision into reality on the pathways of engineering excellence based on the panchsheel of Technical education of 21st Century ie. World quality curriculum design and delivery; quality faculty inspired by teaching and driven by interdisciplinary research; seamless integration of science and engineering; industry relevant innovations; and networking with selected universities in India and abroad.
The up-gradation of Delhi College of Engineering to DTU has received a lot of opposition – from outside and within the University. Your thoughts on this.
Well, the up-gradation of DCE into DTU has been very well received throughout the country and even abroad, barring a section of society with myopic view or those who have their own vested interests. We well understand that the change is usually opposed largely due to misapprehensions and ignorance of the bliss the change is to blossom. The trouble with DCE was that its teachers association was led by the non performers who would negate any change that fosters academic and research excellence.
The DCE in its upgraded form as DTU shall have an innovated curriculum designed in line with the internationally renowned technological universities and shall attract the best faculty to join this prestigious institution, now that we have the required autonomy to do so. Earlier, DCE as an affiliated institution of DU was constrained due to an outdated syllabus of the University and shortage of quality faculty due to long procedural delays. Despite having a 164 acres of a well developed lush green campus, its growth was hampered by lack of academic and administrative autonomy.
Now DTU will be able to prepare its academic and research programs as per international standards, put in place a number of academic innovations including the dual degree and integrated interdisciplinary programmes and strengthen its knowledge infrastructure. All this will be achieved with a focus on “growth with quality”.
As the Founder Vice Chancellor of DTU, what are your immediate agendas?
As per our plan, four new B.Tech programs (with annual intake of 240), 6 new PG programs (18 seats each), MBA (60 seats) and 50 scholarships for PhD including 25 Teaching-cum-Research Fellowships have been added from the current academic session (2009-10) itself. Further expansion of education and research programs will take place in the years to follow as per the DPR of DTU. The total student strength in DTU will be almost three times of its current student intake in the next five years with the addition of new programs including dual degree programs and integrated Master’s programs in areas of relevance to our country in Medical Engineering, Aero-space Engineering, Bio-informatics, Clean Energy and Environment Technology, New and Smart Materials and Nano-Technology. Seamless integration of Science and Engineering will be the focus in the design and delivery of these programs.
We shall make all out effort to attract the best faculty and staff for DTU and accelerate the pace of innovations and quality research in DTU campus which is already gravitating with internationally acclaimed innovations. We shall network with our vast Alumni presence worldwide and involve them in shaping their alma-mater as a world class university
We will be also be strengthening our academic infrastructure by constructing a multi-storey academic block, a teaching block housing ICT enabled lecture theatres and additional hostel facilities for both boys and girls, for which the Board of Management of DTU has already given its go ahead.
As a part of our academic and research plan we shall set up transform selected research laboratories as world class test houses cum research centres, establish a knowledge park cum Technology Incubator in DTU campus to foster i2IP, student and faculty led techno-enterprises and facilitate effective industry institution interaction. The placement of DTU is already quite satisfactory with the reputed MNCs and renowned industries making their campus recruitment from DCE now DTU. We shall establish a Finishing school in partnership with the industry and alumni to further boost employability of our graduates. A Staff College for Tech faculty development will also be set up in DTU to support the Faculty Development mission. The Troika of Education, research and Innovation will be the educational strategy of DTU. “Inspired by talent (regularly enriched) and driven by innovations” will be the guiding philosophy of the DTU enlightened community.
Do you feel the mushrooming of private engineering institutes across the country would deteriorate the quality of engineering education in India? Or is this an opportunity for students with lesser marks to fulfil their dreams?
I strongly feel that we have gone wrong on our fundamentals. On the pretext of low gross enrolment ratio we allowed mushrooming of engineering institutions in every nook and corner of the country irrespective of the availability of quality faculty and infrastructure for quality education. The massive expansion without focus on quality has led to engineering education open to those who barely mange to pass their 10 plus 2 exam and even score zero or negative in entrance exams. Despite this the regulatory bodies allowed further addition of intake in states where large number of seats remained vacant and added new courses and increased intake in institutions whose academic performance was utterly poor. Someone has to convince the government and the regulators that it is not just the land, buildings and money that produces quality education. Institutions require a visionary management, enlightened minds of faculty and inspired students to make it an institution of high acclaim. If the focus remains on multiply institutions and maximise profit rather than maximise academic quality you will have money and land mafia setting up tech institutions in great numbers in our country. The focus of reforms has to be on breaking this nexus currently visible in the name of Public Private Partnership.
What according to you is lacking with the entire system of Engineering Education in India?
The engineering institutions in the country lack focus on quality of education, research integrity and creating the power of innovation in the institutional campuses. Much of the damage to engineering education has been done by rapid and often uncontrolled expansion in the name of increasing gross enrolment ratio without proper care and concern for quality and employability. It is a matter of grave concern that there is craze to establish colleges of engineering in every nook and corner of the country including in the areas where it is difficult to attract faculty and quality students to take up engineering education.
What we have not realized that engineering institutions are to be seen as the knowledge ic hubs to attract the meritorious students from all backgrounds to engage into the pursuit of engineering and technology excellence. Tech institutions are supposed to produce capable people who would by their contributions during their work life make the life of a common man a lot better, create layers of prosperity to provide ever increasing avenues for productive employment of people and equip the mankind with innovations that shall cause ever rising levels of productivity, quality, prosperity and service. It is not too late to apply the corrective measures even now and to reengineer engineering and technology education in India.
What do you think is the reason for students not being keen enough to go for research? What is DTU doing in this regard?
Lack of adequate infrastructure, support and encouragement has been the prime reason behind not many students going for research activities. Further in India for a long time research was not a lucrative proposition in comparison to corporate jobs soon after graduation. The scene is bound to change now that India is fast emerging as a preferred destination for setting up Research centres by the leading global companies.
DTU even as DCE has always encouraged a culture of research and innovation among its students right from the undergraduate level. Some of the research areas where our students and faculty are actively involved include the following:-
The Centre of Relevance and Excellence in Optical Fibre and Optical Communications at DTU, established under joint sponsorship of TIFAC-CORE, the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Government of N.C.T. of Delhi, is involved in active research work in areas like Photonic Crystal Fibre, Nano-scale Optical Devices, Design and Development of Dense Wavelength Division Multiplex Optical Communication System (DWDM). The centre has emerged as a major hub for synergy between science and engineering and for promotion of international collaborations for R&D in the area of Photonic Crystal Devices.
A strong material science research group has been created at the Varsity involving applied Physics and Polymer Technology. The group has carried out cutting edge research in the areas of Ferro-electric materials, Conducting Polymers and Adhesives, Ion-exchange Materials and Nano-Composites. The group has established collaborative R&D links with Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan.
DTU has a strong Bio-Diesel Research Group which has carried out commendable research and development work in the area of Bio-diesel Reactor Design, offered consultancy and has taken major development work for neat Bio-diesel Generator Development with YANMAR of Japan. The group has also developed Algae Bio-diesel Reactor and has promoted energy farming.
Everyone in the Capital is talking about the Commonwealth Games 2010. Is DTU contributing to the success of the mega event?
We are willing to offer any possible help to the Government for the smooth conduction of Commonwealth Games, whether it is by offering our hostels for the comfortable stay of the visiting delegates, sporting facilities or anything else. Some of our students have already joined the Commonwealth Team as volunteers and we shall provide necessary technical support in area in which we have the requisite expertise.
What can students expect out of DTU in the years to come? Any advice for Engineering aspirants?
The DTU is firmly committed to offer world class education and research opportunities to its student community. With a tech savvy campus gravitating with a research and innovation culture all levels from UG onwards, the talented inspired minds joining DTU have an added opportunity for to meet their aspirations to shape them as technology leaders of the new knowledge age..
As told to Siddharth Jalan