The Voyage of Metamorphosis: Curriculum Change Meetings

The Voyage of Metamorphosis: Curriculum Change Meetings

With NIT Rourkela set to undergo changes in the academic curriculum, the different departments of the institute held meetings for discussing the same. A month ago, there was held a centralized meeting which consisted of faculties from all the departments, an expert panel of 10 members, Industry personnel, The Director, NITR and the Ex- Director, IIT KGP. In the meeting there were a few changes suggested for the centralized curriculum revision:

  • Reduction of credits for all the UG and PG courses.
  • Offering a minor degree in any subject of a student’s interest.
  • The inclusion of more core courses.
  • The inclusion of Biology and English as a compulsory course in first year and Humanities in the later second year.

Accustoming to the changes discussed in the former meeting, there was held a branch meeting comprising branch faculties, branch experts, and the students. The structure of the courses was discussed internally and the final draft of changes was presented to the Dean, Academics. Team MM spoke to faculties and HODs of various departments to know about the gist of the meetings.

Department of Bio Medical Engineering

The Department of BioMedical Engineering took the feedback from its students onto what improvisations are required in the system. Prof. Tibrewal, Head of the Department of Bio-Medical Engineering, Jadhavpur University was the expert who was called for the same. The suggestions, which were put forward included an addition of courses related to higher end robotics and artificial intelligence. There was also a proposal put up of streamlining of courses viz. specialization in particular areas rather than diversifying the syllabus. The panel decided to make the curriculum according to the market demand and the one which creates more employment opportunities. The department will is yet to send its proposals to the higher authorities after which decision will be taken about the year of initialization of the new curriculum.

Department of Bio-Technology Engineering

Speaking to Nivedita Patra, a faculty in the department of Bio-Technology engineering, she informed team MM that Prof. Rintu Banerjee, faculty in the department of food and agriculture from IIT Kharagpur was the expert who was a part of the curriculum meeting. The expert was of the opinion that the present curriculum mainly engineering based and wanted to include courses like cell and molecular biology, thermodynamics, biochemical reaction engineering and enzyme technology, preferably from the third semester. This idea was initially opposed as there were no slots vacant but the panel agreed to include the subjects over the duration of course. Coming to laboratories, there was a proposal of including cell and molecular biology lab and enzyme technology lab. Student feedback forms were given to the students who recorded their complaints and suggestions.There is a proposal of implementing the curriculum from the next academic year. The department plans to have another meeting to decide the syllabus for the courses proposed in the near future.

Department of Chemistry

The panel comprised of faculties from the department like Dr.S.Chatterjee, Dr.B.G.Mishra, Dr.P.Dash and Dr.S.Giri. Dr.T.K.Paine from IACS Kolkata and Dr.D.Maiti from IIT Bombay were present as experts. The committee felt that there is a discontinuity in the basic and advanced level courses in the Integrated M.Sc curriculum and also, there were too many laboratory courses. The committee restructured the curriculum by keeping basic level courses in the B.Sc. level and keeping the advanced level courses in the M.Sc. level. The laboratory courses were reduced and major emphasis was given on putting maximum chemistry related courses with an eye on the national level entrance examinations. These changes will be applicable from the next academic year.

The committee will sit again if redirected to do so by the higher authority felt Dr.P.Dash, the professor in charge of curriculum meeting for the department of Chemistry.

Department of Chemical Engineering

The curriculum committee for chemical department consisted of all the professors and the HOD, Dr. R.K Singh. Experts’ jury comprised of Dr. I.M. Mishra from ISM Dhanbad and Dr. S. Dey from IIT KGP. As per the guidelines of the centralized committee, the reduction of credits and removal of the non-core courses were facilitated. The number of professional electives will be increased so that students in point of fact have a choice, unlike the present situation. In a particular instance of the revamping, there was a plan to swap the lab courses after mid-semester, but since the classes could not be completed in time, they happened to continue the same labs till end sem. Solutions were proposed to solve the same.

Department of Civil Engineering

The meeting comprised of all the faculties of civil department and experts. N.Dhang, K.S. REDDY and Prof. D. Roy from IIT Kharagpur were present in the experts’ panel, respectively from Structural Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, and Transportation Engineering specialization. The meeting was carried out in three stages. The first stage consisted of the faculties’ interaction among themselves. The second one had a discussion amongst the faculties and experts’ panel. The last stage on Sunday consisted of student-faculties-experts interaction. Undergraduate and Postgraduate students from all the batches were present at the meeting to put forward a designed future to the branch and have a prolific discussion. There were a few problems identified with the present existing structure of the course. On the first day out of twos, the whole of curriculum revision was considered.
Later the same day, there was a deliberation in the process of correction of the examination papers. There were a few woes expressed by the students regarding unsatisfactory correction in some courses.  The feedbacks from the students were recorded.

Based on the centralized discussion, there are lists of courses which are removed from the Civil Engg. And then there are others which are being shifted between the semesters complying with their needs for the practical knowledge. The lab and theory courses for a particular subject are designed such that the theory course precedes the lab course. And lastly, due to the reduction in credits from 200 to 150-160, there has been a change in the credits of courses as well. Some courses have been reduced from 4 credits to 3. The core branch courses have been increased in numbers reducing the other branches’ courses. Talking to the HOD, Dr. S.K.Sahu, he mentioned that as per the guidelines of the previous meeting, the list of subjects for minor degree from the department had been sent to the Academics’ and are still under approval

Department of Computer Science 

Prof. Anupam Basu, Ex- HOD, CSE Department of IIT Kharagpur and Prof. Swapan Bhattacharya, Ex- Director, NIT Durgapur and NIT Surathkal and presently a professor at Jadhavpur University consisted the Experts’ panel. Major changes are discussed below:

  1. There has been a reduction of credits from 210 to 150-160. In the B.Tech.  First-year courses there had been a removal of courses, Computational Laboratory-II and Data structures.
  2. According to the Minor System, there are pools of electives created in different verticals such as Embedded Systems, Image processing.
  3. The projects for 7th and 8th semester have been made optional and in lieu of the same, a student has to opt for two theory courses. There is another condition to be noted for the aforementioned that the projects will provide an extra credit for the students and they could be chosen from the beginning of the departmental career.
  4. There was a proposal made by students for providing an option between Language Lab and Communicative English and henceforth the matter has been referred to Senate.
  5. There was another important point made by the experts as to not provide a minor degree in Computer Science Engineering by mere studying of 18 credits course as Computer Science is a very vast course. They suggested to rather provide a degree in the specific vertical which a student opts, for instance- Artificial Intelligence.  

Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

According to institute rules, the curriculum change meeting is applicable to departments which have a B.Tech or and 5-year Integrated M.Sc course. The department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences offers only a 2-year integrated M.Sc course, because of which no such meetings were conducted.

Department of Electrical Engineering

The HOD of the department, Mr.J K Satapathy remained unavailable to comment as he is out of station for important work until Wednesday.

Department of Electronics Communication and Electronic Instrumentation

The experts called were Prof. P.K Biswas in the field of fabrication in EC from IIT Kharagpur and for EI Prof. Hafizur Rehman from the VLSI domain in IIST Shibpur. In the B.Tech curriculum for both the departments, the credits are going to reduced to 160-170 from 260 credits. For obtaining a minor degree, a student would have to take 6 subjects during his B.Tech tenure from the onset of 3rd semester. With the inclusion of new faculties, the department of EI is going to focus on Industrial Automation including PSA scatter and DCS. In the department of EC, Power Electronics is going to be included in the course.The experts were of the opinion that there must be four core courses for the students like VLSI, R & F microwave, Semiconductor device, and communication for the EC department. Apart from R&F microwave, the EI department is going to have the four core courses along with instrumentation.

With students complaining about adequate lab facilities, the department is planning to replace them and will be done once the funding is approved. With the subjects getting re-organized, the panel is trying to set a relevant syllabus.to set a continuity in the courses throughout the B.Tech tenure which would also help the students to focus on GATE. In the coming meetings, the time slots and particulars of the new courses will be proposed.

Department of Food Processing

The experts' panel comprised of Prof. H.N. Mishra, Department of Agricultural and Food technology, IIT Kharagpur, Prof. S.K. Dash, HOD, OUAT, Prof. Biswajeet  Acharya, Chief production officer, MilkMantra- Milk Moo. The meeting commenced with an inaugural session followed by a student’s-Experts interaction, curriculum revision meeting and Academic Audit formation. A few key points highlighted during the interaction were:

  1. Students wanted most of the core courses to be covered by the end of the third year so in order to facilitate them to sit for placement in the fourth year preparedly.
  2. There was also a demand raised for more MOUs with other universities and Institutes be it Foreign or Indigenous.
  3. They also felt that the number of faculty and staffs should be increased along with the laboratory and workspace.

Solutions to the same were discussed by brainstorming for the institutes which already had an existing Food Processing department with the existing facilitation of MOUs.  Everything else was taken care of, by the experts, apart from the expansion in the number of staffs and laboratory space as the matter is under administrative jurisdiction. Food processing being a 3-year-old branch in NIT never had a curriculum revision meeting before and hence it was for the first time that committee was set up in order to resolve the problems. However, it seems as if the existing status of the branch has still to be uplifted miles more.

Department of Humanities

Binay Kumar Pattnaik, from sociology department of IIT Kanpur and Umakant Das from Economics department from IIT Madras was present as the expert panel advisors. The other members included all the faculties of the department and HOD, Dr. Nihar Ranjan Mishra as the convenor and Dr. Bikash Ranjan Mishra as PIC, curriculum. There was a closed discussion between students and experts for 2 days on 25th and 26th of March. There was an all over revising for MA developmental studies. Three major changes in the curriculum were identified:

1. There was a revising of curriculum for B.Tech. There are courses such as English and Humanities made compulsory for the Undergraduates. English as a compulsory course has been included in the first year and that for Humanities in second. In third and fourth semester respectively, there are subjects as Humanities-1 and Humanities-2.  Humanities-1 consists of basics of Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Economics whereas Humanities-II consists of the detailed and specialized discussion of the same for which there is an open elective provided as to chose a sub-branch of humanities.

2. In the MA developmental studies, there is a change in the core curriculum. The credits are now reduced to 83 from 95. The present scenario consists of 13 core courses. There are structural as well as syllabic changes in the courses. Some of the outdated labs and theories were removed. More of the outdated courses were removed.

3. In the providing of minor degree, there are seven core courses offered.

Department of Industrial Design

The committee comprised of two external design experts (Prof. Dibakar Sen, CPDM, IISc Bangalore, Prof. Puneet Tandon, and IIITDM Jabalpur), departmental faculties (06) and two other faculty members from ME.
An open-house discussion of the experts with the UG students (3rd and 4th year) and M.Tech. The program was conducted before revising the curriculum.

Major problems identified were:

  • Fewer product specific courses presently and the greater mix of other design aspects such as animation, visual design, mock-up practices, etc. were proposed.
  • Orienting the program more towards design rather than present overlapping with mechanical engineering.
  • How to distinct ID students from traditional engineers and to add uniqueness among them.

   The experts suggested the introduction of a ‘Design Interaction and Tinkering Lab’ common for all 1st year students and also an Inclusion of a ‘design orientation program’ for the 1st year Industrial Design students to orient them psychologically towards Design. They also suggested introducing dedicated course on ‘sketching and rendering’ for both B.Tech. And M.Tech. Programs .To introduce a course on ‘creative engineering design’ which should focus on examining the functional aspects of design.
‘Sustainable design’ was introduced for the first time in the list of courses. An additional software skill based course component is to be introduced in the ‘design communication’ lab. A new course titled ‘embodiment design’ and a new lab named ‘computer aided product development’ was introduced.
There was an insight suggested for the introduction of a PG course in ‘engineering anthropometry’ which would focus on practical aspects of workspace design and Inclusion of course on ‘Design Thinking’.
They also focused on Classifying simulation labs into three kinds, focusing on – ergonomics, finite element analysis, and kinematics and dynamics.
In the new curriculum under the provided Institute guidelines, a total of 158 credits were identified for B.Tech program and 84 credits for the M.Tech. Program in Industrial Design.

The department of Mathematics and the department of Food Process Engineering are currently conducting their curriculum meetings. Experts have joined the panel and their talks are in process.

Department of Life Science

The experts’ panel comprised of Prof. Anil Tarang from IISC and P.C. Rath from a department of Life science, Jawaharlal Nehru University. The meeting started with the feedback of Undergraduate and Postgraduate students. The problems identified were the lack of laboratory spacing and the inclusion of elective courses. The meeting was carried on the Wednesday and the subjects for Minor degree inclusion had been finalized. The other subjects that are to be included such as professional electives were also listed and finalized. The credits were reduced from 270 to 185. The other suggestions that were given by the experts other than the curriculum revision were:

  • Formation of a Journal club of LS that encourages students for research purposes and clarifies their doubts and queries.
  • Extra classes for weak students.
  • Mock tests before the semester examinations.

Department of Mathematics

Prof. B.S. Panda, IIT Delhi and Prof. Somesh Kumar, IIT Kgp constituted the Experts’ panel. Some of the changes discussed were:

  1. Removal of Maths -1V from B.Tech. Syllabus and in lieu of that, making Maths-III optional which means that the sub-courses offered in the course will be now be provided with choices for every individual department.
  2. Some of the redundant and repetitive labs were removed and credits have been reduced to 185.
  3. More advanced courses such as Data analytics and Fundamentals of Robotics have been included

Department of Mechanical Engineering

Prof. Aswini Mohanty belonging to the department of Mechanical Engineering of IIT Kharagpur, Prof. P.K.J Mohapatra from the department of Mechanical Engineering of IIT Kharagpur along with Prof. B.B Varma from the department of Metallurgy of NIT Rourkela were the experts who presided over the meeting. There is a provision of allowing a maximum of 5 theory courses and 3 practical courses and removing procedures like seminar technical writing, research practice and product development labs. The contact hours are likely to remain the same with a reduction in the number of credits. Students gave valuable suggestions like retaining the product development lab which led to the panel finally decide to include it in the form of ‘Product Development Project’. The students also contributed by suggesting fields like crystal structure and heat treatment which belong to physical metallurgy. Control system along with the metallurgy courses is being added as a two credit course and ‘Hydraulic systems’ is being added to the mechatronics section. The department will again sit for a meeting in which the syllabus of the above-mentioned subjects will be specified.

Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering

The experts’ panel comprised of Prof. Rahul Mitra, IIT Kharagpur and Prof. P.P. Chattopadhyaya, Director, NIFFT Ranchi. There were two stages to the meeting. In the first session, like every other department, there was a discussion held regarding the curriculum revision and to accommodate the subjects as per reduced credits. In the second session, there was a review conducted regarding the difficulty level of examinations conducted and the correction of the answer-sheets. The other point to be noted here was that the research projects aren’t compulsory anymore as per decided by the committee but there will be an increase in the difficulty level of it for sure. Also to mention, the projects of optimum standards will only be accepted. Rest of the information regarding the minor subjects provided and the structural changes decided were kept on a halt from disclosing until it gets approved by the Dean, Academics.

Department of Mining Engineering

There were two professors from IIT Kharagpur and one general manager from Southeastern coal fields who were called as the experts. The panel worked according to the K.L Chopra committees suggestions and decided to change from nine core courses to twelve core courses. Syllabus of some subjects has also been aligned to make it more relevant to the topic. Throughout the B.Tech course, there was a proposal of having 10 laboratory courses. Like every other department, the students were asked for their feedbacks. However, one of the suggestions of more field trips by students was not proposed in the new curriculum due to lack of faculty. The Product Development labs were significantly cut down by adhering to K.L Chopra committees’ suggestion and the new concept of Majors and Minors will be applicable to the students joining from the next academic year.

Department of Physics and Astronomy

The experts which were called included Prof. Krishna Kumar from IIT Kharagpur and Dr.Prem Pal from IIT Hyderabad. The panel sat down with the faculty and adhered to Chopra committee’s guidelines. The total credits of Int. M.Sc has been cut down to 188 from 262 and there has been a significant reduction in the credits of B.Tech curriculum as well. The c  the following procedure for the semesters:

Semester

Theory subjects

Number of laboratories

3rd and 4th

5

3

5th and 6th

4

2

7th and 8th

4

1(excluding summer training)

9th and 10th

3

One project to be done per semester.

 

The feedback from students was taken way back in the month of January and the expert had interactions with the students on 25th March. The changes are most likely to be applicable for students joining from next year onwards.

    Comment from Dean Academic

    Speaking to Dean Academic, B.Majhi regarding the overview of the situation, he was quoted as saying,

    Experts have been called from different institutes to know about their existing curriculums. Alongside Chopra committee guidelines, the experts views will also be considered and we would find a way to how can the guidelines be implemented in our system here at NITR. After all the departments are done with their curriculum meetings, the compiled data will be put up to the academic development committee who will forward it to senate and after proper deliberation the final decision will be taken.

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