All college graduates leave the final year with hopes of joining some prestigious firm and making a name for themselves in a field of their choice. But they often hit a roadblock at the point of required skills for the job. Why is it so?
“Colleges teach 8051 microcontroller (MCU) as part of their curriculum,” says Surya Compella, founder of Kriyative-Edge, “and when it comes to looking for job opportunities, fresh graduates often do not have enough knowledge about the latest tech being used in the corporate world.”
Digging into the problem
Talking to the people currently catering to the field of education, major concerns raised are related to practical knowledge. “Current practical classes at colleges are based on viva and not hands-on experiments,” says Manish Joshi, deputy chief executive officer at Scientech. Now that is ironic.
The same has been seen in many colleges. Students are not allowed to use calculators till class XII, and are then expected to use an oscilloscope efficiently in the first year of graduation. Additionally, “Today, students require knowledge on multiple aspects to get hired for a particular technology,” says Dr Jonathan Joshi, chief executive officer, Eduvance.
The age of T-shaped skills for engineers is here, and working hard is just not enough. Learning smart has become the priority.
How academia is tackling this challenge
Smart classrooms enabled with truly modern equipment seem to be the potential solution. In order to understand this, let us consider a traditional case where, while teaching a class of 45 to 50 students, a teacher has to consider the entire class as a group of equals. This somewhere leads to below- and above-average students being ignored, since the majority of any class is average.
Specifically for higher education, smart learning methods like developer boards and e-learning tools have been claimed to be of a huge help by our contributors. More so because technical education requires getting your hands dirty. Pranay Kishore, founder – director, PhiRobotics Research Pvt Ltd, says, “Electronics is something you learn with hands-on experience.” Investing in technology, and more specifically the right technology, leads to the best learning. So let us take a deeper look at the new demand trends for technology from academia.
Get students actively involved with development kits
Ease of use with developer boards and compatibility with multiple programming languages are some of the factors that make it interesting for students.
“There are many products available in the market like drone products, wireless products, flex and force sensors, 3D printers and development boards, among others,” says Dileep Jain, sales head, Rajguru Electronics. The most popular here are boards such as Raspberry Pi iterations, which are more than enough proof that actively engaging the students in project development from within the college itself is the way to go. The Pi is not the only hot seller, though.
Compella says, “We use Arduino boards to help students develop interest in robotics.” Arduino has come up as a major solution for beginners in terms of technical education. Kishore supports the argument with, “It is more suited to hobbyists and high school students.” Once they know the boards, students can go for designing more complex projects with more specialised equipment.
While college labs tend to stock these boards, students may do better with many other boards available in the market. Today, there are many online retailers that have opened up shops to sell these. “Once we show the students the many possibilities with an ARM mbed board and programmable system on chip (PSoC) Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) chip, their interest is exponentially increased,” adds Dr Joshi.
Development boards are good in the beginning where the students feel excited about clicking a few switches to see a light glow. Kishore feels that, “At some point they would have to do the programming for their own projects, hence such boards cannot be used indefinitely.” Once the students get comfortable with the tech, they have to move to other solutions. “Students often move to PIC MCU to implement their projects,” says Brijesh C.A., chief executive officer, Just Robotics.