Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Time for Indian Students to Look Beyond Engineering?

Civil engineering students at Assam Don Bosco University in India.
By Jordan Friedman
World Education Services

In a recent blog post in the Economic Times, Dr. Rahul Choudaha, who formerly worked in the IT sector in India, writes that he is a “product of the factory line of engineering education.” And, he says, he’s one of many in the country who fit this description.

Choudaha, who now serves as chief knowledge officer at WES, believes it’s time for India to truly encourage an education system that emphasizes discovery and exploration.

“In the last 15 years, the expansion of the IT sector has provided relatively bright prospects of upward social mobility for many families,” Choudaha writes. “While the IT sector had been integral to the economic growth of the country, it has also boxed students into linear career pathways that start with competing for college entrance exams.”

Choudaha says that unlike many of those in India’s IT industry, he realized he wasn’t fit for the field and then came to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in higher education.

“Luckily, I had a chance to discover and follow my passion; however, a majority of students do not get opportunities to explore,” he writes.

Choudaha emphasizes that Japan, which saw similar success in the manufacturing industry during the 1980s, has since experienced a decline. He points to Takamitsu Sawa, president of Shiga University, who said, “The plight of the Japanese manufacturing industry today may be traced to the excessively compartmentalized manner in which engineering students have been educated for the past nearly four decades.”

It’s time for India to learn from what has occurred in Japan, Choudaha concludes.

“Concerted and collaborative efforts are needed in broadening student choices through liberal arts education,” he writes.

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