Only 10% engineering institutes opt for new-age courses like AI, data science
Undergraduate engineering courses have for long faced low demand. However, the recently introduced courses in undergraduate education might be the way out.
The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) reveals that since 2019-20, nearly 127 diploma institutes and 663 undergraduate colleges across the country have opted for courses including artificial intelligence (AI), data science and analytics, blockchain, machine learning, robotics among others. While this covers less than 10% of the total number of engineering institutes in India, officials feel it’s a positive move in the right direction.
This includes 222 institutes for AI and machine learning, 186 institutes for AI and data science, 52, 45 and 29 institutes for computer science and design course, and data science and AI courses respectively.
“In 2020-21, electronics and communication sector managed to swoop the best of the minds and many also opted for BTech in AI and data science fields. Since jobs in the electronics as well as AI sectors are gaining more popularity, students too are very clear about their ambition and aiming for seats in specific departments,” said Gopakumaran Thampi, principal of Thadomal Shahani Engineering College, Bandra.
In early 2019, to attract more students to the engineering sector, the AICTE had requested all affiliated engineering colleges to introduce newer courses including data science and analytics, blockchain, machine learning, robotics among others. Since 2020, AICTE also implemented a two-year blanket ban on new engineering institutes across the country and had requested colleges to apply for new-age courses.
In some cases, engineering institutes have also chosen not to apply for the new courses due to a lack of support from the state government for the same. “We didn’t apply for any new courses because to date, the state government has not approved faculty for the electronics and communication course that we had started in 2009. This particular course has attracted the brightest of minds over the years and is in popular demand amongst recruiters as well, which is why the institute is funding the course without any government support,” said Dhiren Patel, director, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), Matunga.
‘Trend for new-age course short-lived’
While demand for the new-age courses is growing, more and more institutes are showing interest in wanting to introduce them at their institute. However, the experts have highlighted how this move could be short-lived, especially for courses like AI and data science and analytics due to the evolving technology in these fields.
“These sectors evolve, and new trends emerge in them. At present, these courses might be in the position to offer many jobs to graduating students, there’s no guarantee the trend will stay for very long,” said SS Mantha, former chairperson of AICTE.
He added that in the last few years, core engineering courses like civil as well as mechanical engineering courses have witnessed a drop in applications due to the lack of job opportunities for students after graduation. However, an undergraduate degree in core engineering, said Mantha, is very important for the students. “The shelf value of new-age courses could be limited whereas basic knowledge in core engineering sectors will take students a long way,” he added.