Friday, March 10, 2006

M. A. Pai on technical education in India

M. A. Pai, an emeritus professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaigne, has an article in Rediff on the state of technical education in India. He presents quite a few ideas for improving the quality of education, so that we are able to graduate a lot more students who have had high quality training. He also presents some ideas on increasing the number of Ph.D.s in engineering disciplines.

Here's another page that recounts Prof. Pai's career. He also served IIT-K during the 1960's and the 70's.

He also has an earlier Rediff article -- published in September 2004 -- titled "Why IITs must be restructured".

Well, there's a lot of stuff in the article that I would like to comment upon. However, that will have to wait. Let me, for the moment, content myself with excerpting from the article:

Currently, the student-to-faculty ratio at many IITs is more like 10:1, which is a luxury, compared to the 20:1 in most US public universities. In China, Tshinghua University alone turns out more than 2,000 undergraduates in engineering according to their Web site. [...]

The IITs have vast spaces and they must be utilised optimally. The Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore can also join the four-year undergraduate programme with perhaps a greater share for science graduates. This is one way of exciting young minds about science since they will be in the same campus as top-notch scientists.

The experience at IIT Kanpur in the '60s of having an integrated 5-year science degree programme, where excellent research was also done in the sciences, should be a convincing factor. There are very few world-class institutions excelling in research without a good undergraduate programme and the IISc must be persuaded to fall in line.