HIGHER EDUCATION: Social skills crucial to engineers
2009/10/24 - nst.com.my
M. K. MEGAN
INSTITUTIONS of higher learning offering Engineering studies should emphasise social and entrepreneurial skills to enable future engineers meet the requirements of a fast developing country such as Malaysia.
Professor Prasad Krishna of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, National Institute of Technology Karnataka Surathkal in India says engineers should have three sets of skills in order to contribute to the development of a country. The skills are technical, professional and, most importantly, social and entrepreneurial.
"Engineers cannot be alienated from society and should be directly useful to industry if they are to play a meaningful role in nation-building," says Prasad, who was in Kuala Lumpur recently as a member of the board of studies which is laying the academic foundation for the proposed Vinayaka Missions University (VMU) Engineering, Technical and Management branch campus in Malaysia.
Apart from Prasad, the board of studies is made up of leading academicians in the field of Engineering and Management from India, Malaysia and Singapore.
Among the academicians were from the highly acclaimed Indian Institute of Technology. The others were from Indian Institute of Management, National Institute of Technology India, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, University of Malaya and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore.
Prasad says the social impact of Engineering is equally, if not more, important than the technological impact because engineers should find solutions that will have a positive impact on society especially in developing countries.
|Prasad Krishna (left) with the Board of Mechanical Sciences, Vinayaka Missions University|
"Engineers should design and develop products that will benefit human kind and society and this emphasis should go into the curriculum of institutions of higher learning," he adds.
VMU pro-chanceller Datuk Dr S Sharavanan said the branch campus in Malaysia will give priority to the social and entrepreneurial skills of Engineering and Management students.
According to Sharavanan, two mandatory courses -- Engineer in Society and Entrepreneurship-- will be part of the proposed curriculum for the branch campus which is expected to be set up in Johor Baru with an investment of about RM100 million.
The proposed branch campus in Iskandar Malaysia will widen access to affordable education, extend VMU's global footprint and help meet the university's mission to spread education globally in the fields of Medicine, Dental, Paramedical, Homeopathy, Engineering, Management and Basic Science using existing resources and technology.
VMU, a leading education group in India which currently manages 21 colleges and universities in India, Canada, United States, Thailand and Malaysia, sees great opportunity of attracting students not only from Malaysia but also from the region to the branch campus.
Nearly 20,000 full-time students are presently studying in VMU's various colleges and universities and 150,000 are enrolled in distance education. Every year, about 5,000 students graduate from its campuses.