Engineering PhD candidates can now look forward to mentoring from faculty members of some top US engineering institutions.
Indo-US Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE) — an initiative by the Pan IIT Alumni Association — has taken up a US co-guide PhD initiative wherein faculty members of Indian engineering institutes would be able to obtain PhDs in a four-year period, with the mentoring of distinguished US faculty.
This, says Pan IIT, is expected to dramatically increase production of PhDs in engineering in India from the current around 800 per year.
IUCEE has created network of around 300 US faculty members and Indian institutions wherein these faculty members would guide PhD students in India.
The US co-guide initiative will also allow research collaborations between Indian and US faculty; enable faculty exchanges and distance education technologies.
“We have around 80,000 faculty members at all the engineering colleges in India at the moment and we would like to touch them all in the next five years. One trainer would train at least 30 faculty members. We are still working out the details with US engineering colleges and will divulge the same at a later stage,” said Ashok Kalbag, secretary general, Pan IIT.
Pan IIT says that with the American engineering institutions facing a shortage of research scholars and with a lot of research interest in India, its a win-win situation for academic institutions in both the countries.
Under the arrangement, interested PhD candidates in India, who are currently teaching in engineering colleges, will identify and register with a PhD guide at an Indian PhD granting institution. The PhD candidate will identify his area of research interest.
If there appears to be matching of interests between an Indian PhD candidate and a US faculty, IUCEE will facilitate the process forward.
Also, the PhD candidate will make a trip to the US institution of the co-guide to ensure exposure to high quality research culture. The co-guide will also visit the Indian institution, to ensure adequate mentoring of the candidate.
The home institution of the Indian faculty PhD candidate which will include National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) among other engineering institutions, will provide the required support for the cost of travel and boarding and lodging for the candidate as well as for the co-guide.
IUCEE is also exploring various avenues for requesting government of India to provide schemes for this purpose.
“Pan IIT is taking advantage of its global network, identified faculty members, deans and directors of such institutes and decided to bring them together. Many Non-resident India faculty members in the US universities have shown interest and facilitate the process,” added Kalbag.
Two years ago, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development had decided to set up a head hunting cell for the Indian Institutes of Techonolgy, in Delhi.
MHRD had decided to fund the cell with an initial investment of Rs 10 crore which could be increased later but the idea did not take off.
“There were plans to make it an joint effort on part of all IITs but it did not materialise. IITs anyways go head hunting as and when their faculty members go abroad for conferences. We do it on our own expense,” said an IIT director.
In the next five years, the IITs will need over 3,000 professors. At present, all the IITs are facing a shortage of teaching staff to over 20 percent.
According to MHRD, there are around 50,000 Indians involved in higher research in top engineering and technology institutes across the world who could be recruited for the Indian engineering institutes.
“With six new IITs taking shape at Gandhinagar, Patna, Bhubaneswar, Punjab, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, as part of the government's 11th five year plan, and seven IITs existing at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kharagpur, Kanpur, Roorkee and Guwahati, the shortage of faculty members will only grow,” said an IIT professor.