As techies struggle to stay current, varsities are tying up with industry to help
Amid advancements in AI, machine learning, big data, colleges and industry are collaborating to streamline software engineering curricula.
In the field of software engineering, it’s hard to be industry-ready. Developing technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), data analytics, big data and blockchain are making advancements at a pace colleges may find hard to keep up with.
This gap between industry and academia used to render most engineering graduates unemployable, pushing them to scout for upskilling courses over and above the four years of engineering.
But that is slowly changing. Colleges and industry are collaborating to streamline the software engineering curriculum. Many now offer comprehensive courses in emerging technologies, both at the BTech and MTech levels. The Indian Institute of Hyderabad (IIT-H) offers a full-fledged BTech programme in Artificial Intelligence (AI) starting in July. Around 20 students can take the program through the JEE-Advanced route.
For the 2018-19 academic year colleges such as the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) and Sri Ramaswamy Memorial Institute of Science and Technology (SRM) started offering specialisations in emerging technologies. The former offers AI and Machine Learning, DevOps, Big Data. The latter offers specialisations in AI, Cloud Computing, Cyber Security and Internet of Things.
Graduates, who’ve missed the chance, can now study these specialised courses at the post-graduate level too. The Great Lakes Institute of Management in Gurgaon, for instance, started offering artificial intelligence and machine learning specialisations last year. UPES also offers an MTech in computer science engineering with a special focus on business analytics, cyber security and forensics, AI and ML. The Aegis school of business in Mumbai, Symbiosis International University in Pune and Chandigarh University offer courses on emerging technologies too.
“Today, computer science and engineering are not just about syntax and coding, they link computing machines and humans,” says Dr B Amutha, professor and head, computer science and engineering at SRM. “We want to create a culture of learning and prepare our students for the industry.”
READY FOR THE WORLD
Today most specialisation courses are offered in collaboration with the industry. “The IT sector has defined skill-sets that will been needed for the coming decade,” says Dr. Manish Prateek, Dean, School of Computer Science, UPES.
This year in addition to the programmes mentioned, SRM has started a new programme with TCS on computer science and business systems. IIT-H is in conversation with multinationals such as Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia to industry tie-ups. IBM has collaborated with as many as 50 software engineering institutes including Chandigarh University, UPES, GITAM University and SRM to contribute to courses. UPES, on the other hand, has roped in Xebia IT architects India to introduce two new full-time B Tech programmes with specialisations in DevOps and Big Data.
“Site visits, technical talks and industry experts can help us with becoming industry-ready,” says Garishma Virk, 20, a BTech computer science student specialising in DevOps at UPES. “Our seniors who had computer science without these specialisations have no clue about these technologies we are studying now.”
Abhinav Kalra, 28, who’s completed his post-graduate program in management at Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon with specialisation in AI, ML and Analytics, says the courses are a great head-start for the jobs to come. “I was aware that analytics was poised to be the next big thing,” he says. “A specialisation has helped me upskill myself and compete in an industry that is driven by speed, knowledge and adaptability.”
Critics worry that an increased input from industry will replace education, and analytical next-level thinking with a set of instructions on how to become an office drone. But experts say the key is in the kind of collaborations colleges initiate.
The AI programme at IIT Hyderabad aims to provide a holistic view to students. But more importantly, it seeks to highlight the ethical impact of AI and its technologies on areas such as privacy, bias and related issues, which will be a key component of the BTech programme.
“It is important that students be sensitised to these things at the graduate level. It is imperative they are cognisant of the impact of the technology they develop,” says Dr. Vineeth N. Balasubramanian, associate professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT-Hyderabad.
Besides, courses that do not keep pace with a fast-changing field risk become so theoretical that they’re out of touch with everyday tech and usage. “Students are required to have a vision for the future to create and sustain businesses that are driven by innovation, technology and automation,” says Dr Bappaditya Mukhopadhyay, professor at the Great Lakes Institute. Perhaps the best way forward is hand in hand with industry.