On 17th January 2017, School of Engineering conducted an FDP (Faculty Development Program) on ‘Societally Relevant Engineering Education’. The resource person for this program was Prof. Ashok Saxena from the University of Arkansas, USA. Prof. Saxena is a Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus of University of Arkansas, where he has also served as Provost and Vice-Chancellor, Academic Affairs.

The session was attended by Prof. (Dr.) Deependra K. Jha, Vice Chancellor, GD Goenka University, Prof. (Dr.) Sudeep Sharma, Assistant Dean, School of Engineering, Heads of various departments and senior faculty members from GD Goenka School of Engineering.

The session started with the introduction of the faculty members present during the program. After the round of introductions,Prof. Saxena set the stage with a view on what the society needs from engineers. He emphasized on the need to prepare students for the world of future for which learning how to learn is of utmost importance.

Prof. Saxena highlighted that there are five essential ingredients for achieving high quality of life-clean environment, excellent health care system, safety and security, excellent civil infrastructure, and an educated and concerned citizenry that clearly understands its responsibility. He further elaborated on how engineers can potentially play an important role for achieving every one of the above goals.

After underlining the significance of engineering profession, he talked about the issues with the current engineering education in India. Some of the major issues discussed were: too many credit hours packed in four years, too much emphasis on basic and engineering sciences than on application and design, a weak component of courses that provide societal context, insufficient emphasis on communication skills, and insufficient exposure to project work.

The faculty members discussed with Prof. Saxena that the curriculum at GD Goenka School of Engineering is designed to tackle many of these issues. There are many courses offered to students which provide the necessary societally relevant edification. Students are also involved in interdisciplinary projects that help them with problem solving and team building skills.

At the same time, everyone welcomed the illuminating inputs from Prof. Saxena and agreed that certain reforms in the engineering education can yield really good results for the budding engineers so that they remain productive and in high demand for 50 years. The informative and highly interactive session ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. (Dr.) Sudeep Sharma, Assistant Dean, GD Goenka School of Engineering.

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