Aug 11 , 2017
The seventh series of the PALS Program, PALS 2017-18, took off on Saturday, 29th July 2017, with the inauguration at Chennai. This year, PALS is starting its activities for the first time, in Coimbatore District. The Kovai launch took place at the PSG College of Technology, Peelamedu Campus, Coimbatore. Prof. Dr. P.B. Sunil Kumar, Director of IIT Palakkad, was the Chief Guest. Dr.R.Rudramoorthy, Principal, PSG College of Technology, and Mr. Jayashankar Jayaraman, Director HR, ELGI Equipment, were the Guests of Honour.
Mr.Mohan Narayanan, Chairman PALS, welcomed the gathering and Ms.Anuradha Shankar, one of the Core Team Members of PALS, made a brief presentation of PALS and the road ahead. Addressing the gathering, Mr Mohan said, 'PALS is an initiative of the Partner Institutes (PI), by the PI, for the PI. The PIs are expected to participate actively in the programs and also contribute to them. The PALS team will have its ears on the ground and respond with innovative services that will enhance the quality of education to students in engineering’.
Dr. Rudramoorthy, focused on “We have to be creating engineers and not engineering graduates”. He went on to say “There is a need to foster industry oriented thinking and a deep connect and engagement with the industry for the faculty, which when nurtured and developed help the faculty to add more value to what they teach in class rooms. The second action to be taken by institutes is to maintain alumni connect on a continuous basis. And the third is to provide applied research opportunities for faculty. All these three actions will help fill the gaps between academia and the industry”. He concluded “Agriculture is where technology interventions are needed urgently today. It is important for us to find solutions to local problems. As engineers we should be proactive and should not wait for government assistance for everything”. He said that it was an honour to partner PALS as an anchor at Coimbatore.
Prof.Dr. P.B. Sunil Kumar said the major challenges being faced in Coimbatore region today are “Climate Change Mitigation” and “Moving Manufacturing from big companies to small companies as it has become less labour intensive”. He mentioned the latest trends in engineering today are – 3D Printing, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Brain Research. Most problems in industry today cannot be classified as engineering problems (let alone mechanical engineering problems or civil engineering problems), they should involve science, arts, humanities, social science etc. Learning these new subjects is important for engineers as it enables them to think better. Colleges should emphasize in teaching the basics and leave it to the students to do advanced learning. There should also be sufficient emphasis on Research.
Mr.Jayashankar Jayaraman said the needs of engineering industry today is changing rapidly with the times and the engineering education is not able to keep pace with this trend, resulting in the declining caliber of engineering graduates. He gave an indication of the expectations of the engineering industry by quoting a few examples from his company. His company, Elgi, believed in “making in India”. Though over 50% of their revenues came from USA and other countries, designing, fabricating and manufacturing was done in India. They achieved success in the competitive foreign markets by making their machines “more efficient and having more features at the same and also less cost than their competitors”. He also mentioned the example of a sophisticated milling machine being offered world wide by a UK based manufacturer for ?12 crores. His company was able to manufacture the same equipment for ¼ of the cost and offer it worldwide with life time warranty. Mr Jayaraman gave some tips to improve the caliber of engineering students – build problem solving skills, awareness of the world around us, fundamental knowledge of mathematics, basic sciences, finance, English language, communication skills (ability to comprehend oral and written matter) etc. He felt that students should plan to have a reasonably long tenure in their jobs, especially their first job. He concluded by offering the support of his firm for PALS in its activities to improve the caliber of engineering graduates.
The Management Representatives of Kovai colleges who joined PALS, stated their expectations from PALS for this year. This was followed by a Panel Discussion of alumni PI representatives from MAM College of Engineering, Trichy and KSR College of Engineering and Technology, Thiruchengode along with Mr. Jayaraman. The panel responded to questions fielded by the newly joined PIs and the audience. They stated, that by working with the alumni of IITs and industry experts in various PALs events, they could observe significant changes in their students. They felt PALS should continue doing this work.
Ms. N. Alamelu of PALS gave the vote of thanks.