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Q&A: IITs need to give emphasis on soft skills

Goutam Das     April 23, 2013
Shantanu Sen Sharma is Co-founder of Ozone Education Consultants, a Pune-based company that works on employability in premier institutes. The IIT Kanpur alumnus shared his views on the problems IITs are grappling with in a chat with BT's Goutam Das.

On dilution in quality at the IITs:
  Any autonomous organisation would require a certain maturity cycle. You have IIT Kharagpur that started in the 50s and (you have) IIT Mandi that started in 2009, which means they have not seen a batch graduate. All IITs have different levels of maturity. Also, engineering is a complete discipline. Anybody would first say he is an engineer before saying he is a mechanical engineer or something else. Many of these new IITs have limited number of departments. If you have a limited number of departments and are trying to produce an all-round engineer, you are limited. If I just run electrical, computer science and chemical engineering, how do I get my students to be well-grounded in mechanical and material science? So it will be a challenge for them to build all-round engineers.

The other aspect of quality is the Joint Entrance Exam. Today, the IIT exam is on multiple-choice and one is taught to eliminate wrong answers. Earlier, if there was a problem related to gravity and the right answer was 25 feet, you are supposed to get the 25 feet as well as the working and the methodology correct. That showed my fundamentals are clear. Second, many IITians have done a management degree after finishing IIT. There are very few cases where they finished engineering and cracked it big in the industry. In the IITs, there is no emphasis given to things like soft skills, leadership and team work. This needs to be addressed. A lot of our premier engineers go abroad. What do they do? They do coding. An engineer is not meant for that. There is underemployment.

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