The system of engineering education in the United States is going through a “paradigm shift”, says Jerry M Hultin, president, Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly). He explains what this means and what benefits this brings to Indian students.
What is the scope of studying engineering in the US? How is it different from studying this subject in, say, Germany or France?
My answer is more subtle than just pointing out the differences between the US and Germany or France. I think the US is on the verge of a paradigm shift in engineering education, from traditional discipline-based engineering education to an ‘educate-to-innovate’ approach. I think this emerging need to change the educational model in the US is even more important than a comparison with the rest of the world.
Which branches of engineering do you feel are best taught in the US (for undergraduate as well as graduate studies)? Will there be any new areas/specialisations for Bachelor’s or Master’s degrees in engineering?
Aerospace and biomedical engineering programmes are more advanced in the US. American institutions respond well to market forces and to areas introduced by new research.
Examples are programmes created in bio-informatics (computational biology + computer science); biomedical engineering (medicine/biology + engineering); mechatronics (mechanical + electronic / computational systems), etc.
To make the most of this new opportunity, what kind of adaptations are required of Indian students coming to the US?
Students from India have a very good grasp of theory, but they often lack the skills to apply them in practice. The US system is less textbook-driven and far more empowering to students.
Indian students come from an environment that is less interactive — between the professor and the student. When they enter the US environment, they can thrive in the culture of entrepreneurship but have to adjust to the new, less formal environment.