Clearing the Pandemonium: Ask a Question 3.0
Team MM brings you the third edition of Ask a Question with answers from the Dean Academics and the SAC President which will help to clear the air regarding a lot of issues which are currently confusing you.
Responses From Dean Academics, Prof. K.K Mahapatra
Q. When do we have the Mid-Semester examinations of the ongoing Autumn Semester. Is it scheduled before or after the Puja vacations (22 September)?
KM: The academic calendar is already out. Mid semester exams would be held before puja vacations, from 15th to 22nd September.
Q. Is it mandatory for a student to opt for at least 2 HS Open Electives in the four years?
KM: Two HS open electives are a must for every student. If the institute is not able to provide it, only then would we entertain exceptions. The academic section, based on a certain formula, allots you OEs. The algorithm is such that it would allow at least 2 HS OE for every student. In some very rare cases, this algorithm fails and I don’t know the exact reason of why it happens but in most cases, we have been successful.
Personally, I think this is something the students are looking for these days. I have seen students taking up to 5 HS OE courses.
Q. What is the attendance and passing policy for zero credit courses like NSS and PE?
KM: The attendance policy is the same as any other lab course (0-0-3). There has been no change in the attendance policy. ‘Pass’ and ‘Fail’ terms have been replaced by ‘satisfactory’ and ‘unsatisfactory’. So if someone is ‘unsatisfactory’ on a subject, he/she would have to repeat it the following year. This is along similar lines as SUPW process that you’ve been doing in class 10th and 12th.
Q. If there are no seats available in the first year right now, then will there be any branch change for them? If available, how would it be done?
KM: For first-year students, the senate has taken a decision to incorporate branch changes, and this doesn’t apply to the students who had joined in previous academic sessions. A maximum of 5% students from a branch would be allowed to change their branch, subject to vacancies in other branches. But that 5% is a strict 5% or else some branches would become completely vacant. Every student aspires to study in departments like CS and EC but we want to give equal importance to departments like Ceramic, Mining, ID, etc.
Q. Recently, a sophomore from Bio-Medical Branch got her branch changed from BM to Chemical despite branch change option not being there for the current sophomore batch. How do you explain that?
KM: The batch of 2016-20 does not have the option to change their branch after the completion of their first year. The case in question is based on a High Court order. Once the high court gives an order we cannot deny it. So, because it was a high court order, that is why she was given permission to change to Chemical Engineering.
Owing to the fact that the few seats were left vacant after the fourth round of selection during the 2016 admission session, the student in question, appealed to the court in September 2016. In a recent judgment, the High Court stated that ‘The concerned person should be given a seat in Chemical, Mechanical or Electronics and Communication Engineering branch, subject to vacancy.’ So, s/he was given a seat in Chemical Engineering.
I understand that the students, who are currently in their second year, were sort of depraved because last year more than 100 seats were vacant in NITR and no single student can be preferred for an upgradation. But at the same time it needs to be kept in mind that last year two rounds of counselling did not take place. Had the next two rounds been held, then the existing students would have been automatically upgraded. But it was an order from CSAB and JOSAA to stop it. Now the institute also has to honour its own laws; the institute laws says that we will not allow any branch change once it is fixed.
Q. Is there a one-grade-less system in summer? Is it possible to score EX grade in summer?
KM: Yes. The reason is that some students are deliberately dropping some courses. They feel that if they drop this course and take it up in summer semester then he/she would probably get a better grade. Suppose a student deregisters for any particular subject in March knowing that the best he/she can get is B. If he/she stays in summer and gets an EX, it is not fair to other students. Keeping this in mind, the senate took a decision to give one-grade-less for summer courses.
But, there is nothing to worry with regards to genuine medical cases. If someone has missed an exam because of valid medical reasons, in that case there is a possibility of doing away with the one-grade-less rule. Although we have applied the rule in a generic way but exceptional cases would be considered.
Q. Is it compulsory for Dual-Degree students to avail leave from May 1-15 only or they can avail it during any time of the year?
KM: The dual degree students are sanctioned a leave of 15 days during the usual period of summer vacations. They can avail it any time during the vacation and not only during May 1-15. However, the leave cannot be availed during other times of the academic session. This 15-day leave has been provided to the dual degree students to help them have a smooth transition from B-Tech to M-Tech, as they get used to having summer holidays.
Q. Why is feedback taken before the result? It might hamper the result rather than improvement of teaching.
KM: No teacher knows the roll number or identity of the student who has submitted the feedback. So, it should not be an issue that the feedback is submitted before or after the result. However, upon scrutinising the feedbacks submitted, we found that several students had submitted answers either without reading or probably understanding, and it is not the students who are to be blamed for this. No student probably has as much time at his disposal that he can go through every single question. This became evident in an incident where quite a high percentage of students had clicked on the option that a subject is theoretical when it was a purely mathematical subject. Hence from this year onwards, a revised system of feedback has been proposed, in which the feedback questionnaire in the physical form would contain a few relevant questions and will be taken by a faculty member other than the course instructor.
Q. Why are subjects like Physics & Chemistry taught in the first year, which is of no use in future as quoted by some of the old alumni and students who had passed out recently as they feel that subjects relevant to the respective branches can be taught. What can be done in this regard?
KM: The students come to engineering colleges after finishing two strenuous years of study. Our main objective behind making them study the subjects which they have previously studied, are two fold. Firstly, it allows them to have a gradual transition from higher secondary to engineering. Secondly, basic subjects and principles come to use at some point in time in your life. For instance, If you end up working for an Analytics company and have been assigned a project pertaining to a consumer product company like toothpaste company, a need for understanding some basics of chemistry might be felt. Education should be holistic and every student must be equipped with some basic knowledge.
Q. Can the spring semester be started on 15 Dec and ended by April, so that the heat of Rourkela can be escaped?
KM: No, such a decision cannot be taken be taken by the Institute alone. The holidays must be co-ordinated for all the NITs and IITs and companies hiring students for internships depend upon the calendar of the government institutes. Also, the climatic conditions of several other places where the institutes are located are similar to the conditions of Rourkela. Hence, such a change would require implementation from the apex organisation.
Q. Will there be any issue if a student misses putting biometric attendance?
KM: The biometric attendance system is for the Post-Graduate students. In case a person forgets to put biometric attendance for a day but is present on most days and it is in the knowledge of the professor, then in such a case, the overall result of the students isn’t affected much.
Q. Can a course instructor take a tutorial class in the free slot for professional electives having credit structure 3-0-0? If so, why isn’t the subject a 3-1-0 course?
KM: Some courses are made 3-0-0 as they are usually perceived to well within the scope of being covered in a semester without the tutorial class. However, if a course instructor feels that the assigned time is less for discussing the requisite number of problems or assignments, he or she is free to take tutorial classes, but this provision is subject to several variables. Hence, it would be more prudent to keep the credit structure of these courses as 3-1-0. Lesser the time of interaction between the students and the instructors, the better.
Response From Prof. Snehashish Chakraverty, President, SAC
Q. How and who has decided the budget allocation for different societies? The miscellaneous expenses of the Dean Student Welfare and President are higher than some societies (Technical society, to be particular) individual budget? On what grounds will the miscellaneous funds would be used?
SC: The budget allocation was done by previous SAC authorities. I had no say in that. As far as miscellaneous funds are concerned, with these funds, we now have flexibility. Suppose a particular society needs more money, then we can divert these miscellaneous funds to that society. In that way we are more flexible now. Suppose some issue pops up immediately and funds are required and say those fund have not been allocated in the budget allocation, in such a case, where would the money come from? That is why we have miscellaneous funds.