A Candid Commencement
With the start of another academic year, Team MM caught up with the Director on a Saturday afternoon looking for solutions to the growing resentment among students regarding internship and placement opportunities. The Director also updated us with the various projects and developments happening on campus. Being the first Director’s Desk of this session, Prof. Sarangi has provided us with a very heartfelt message for the students. Read on to find out more and click here to watch the video message.
MM: This year it has been notified that only 6 absents will be allowed for the purpose of placements. Last year up to 14 absents were allowed. Why is this new rule being imposed? What has been the motive and how is the students' well-being taken care of through this?
Director: Typically only one third of the opportunities come on week days and the rest on holidays. The professors have reported two reasons that have led to this decision. Firstly, the attendance of the final year classes has become abysmally small. Second, whenever the students were informed about exceeding the attendance limits they would get it approved by the TnP thanks to their friends in the committee. The general perception of the professors is that six is adequate.
But nothing is permanent. If you can prove the need and propose a loophole-free scheme, we can always have changes.
What we want is that people should treat this leave with some amount of respect. I’m motivating the students to apply for limited companies in which they have a reasonable chance. They should know that they belong to a particular bracket.
MM: Fourth year dual degree students have been instructed to receive permission from their project guides in order to apply for end of 4th year summer internships. However the guides are allotted towards the middle of the 8th semester while the procedures for on-campus and off-campus internship applications starts from August. So how is this process supposed to work out?
Firstly, there is no explicit provision of internship for the dual degree students. They are supposed to do two projects, one summer project and another main project. The second project could either be in continuation or completely distinct from the previous one.
Director: The ideal scenario is when the project guides have collaborations with the companies and the students are a medium to carry out a project which is of some value to the company. So the student becomes an unpaid engineer while the guide an unpaid consultant. We have no bar on the fraction of time the students spend in the institute or the company premises working for the company. The word internship is used only if it’s a standard phase of the company. We do not condone that. In the worst form, the company wants the student to do some completely low end job by paying a minimal amount. Also there is no involvement of the Guide and the engineer in charge in the process. This is an absolutely unacceptable combination. From this year onwards the company willing to take interns from the institute will be required to select an Engineer-In-Charge from the faculty. This paves the way for a mutual collaboration between our institute and the company concerned. The same applies for students headed to universities in India and abroad for this purpose. This would also help professors to gain greater exposure. For applications that begin early, students can approach the professor in the concerned area of work and have an arrangement to procure his approval when the project guides are allotted.
MM: The Dual Degree Students are yet to receive their stipends for GATE qualification. What has led to this delay?
Director: The stipend is paid starting from the month of July till the next June. The process has been started and all Dual Degree students shall be receiving their stipends on time.
MM: The student body had been proposed 2 years back and in the last session, no considerable progress was made in that regard. What is its status now? When can we expect an up and functioning student body?
Director: We have received a proposal for the same and I have been analyzing and editing it as required. The idea is to get the Student Body implemented and working as soon as possible so that the students can be provided with its services for the coming academic year. The progress has been more than satisfactory and we’ll be having it sometime this month.
MM: There was no power in the entire campus for close to 24 hours on the 20th of July. The students had just returned on that day, and even registrations couldn't be done. What was the reason for such a power outage? How prepared are we for such sudden blackouts?
Director: The 33kV substation has a transformer room which also contains all the metering equipment and is kept under lock and key by the WESCO authorities. The blackout was caused by an explosion in that room and the requisite repair could only be carried out after the carrying out of several protocols and procurement of parts from outside. Unfortunately the institute did not have enough diesel to fuel the generators for the extended period during which the repair was done.
MM: The in-time for CVR is 10PM while in KMS it is 9 PM. Why this discrepancy?
Director: The KMS hostel just recently got functional as a girl's hostel. The wardens would know better, but the girls have just moved into KMS, so they are not yet in the grip of things. The boundary wall is broken and it is still under construction. So the rules are still being put in place.
MM: The Ministry of Social Services has allocated a budget of 13.24 crores for installation of lifts to make the institute more suitable for the physically challenged. How are the work-plans going on for that?
Director: The Ministry of Social Services sent a circular for a barrier free campus for the differently able people. We have decided to put all the physically challenged people in one hall so that they might have better facilities. What has been sanctioned now is the construction of two ramps. The two lecture halls will be connected on all levels and is expected to be the main people carrier. The lifts in the electrical sciences building shall also be inaugurated soon.
MM: The Bhubaneswar center of NIT Rourkela was recently in the news for the inauguration programme. What are the future plans regarding this campus? What shall be its purpose and what is the timeline for its completion?
Director: Firstly, the boundary walls have to be put up because we are afraid of encroachment. The building will take 20 crore to construct. It will be called the NIT Rourkela Outreach Centre. Bhubaneshwar, in spite of being far more prosperous than Rourkela, and having more colleges around, does not necessarily have very good teachers. So, the idea is to facilitate faculty development by offering courses though contact as well as long distance. So students and faculty studying there can ask questions and interact with the faculty on NIT Rourkela campus. So, the idea is to create smart classrooms, so that teachers can teach through long distance. There will be provisions for placement procedures and industrial research & consultancy. It will also have guest rooms, so that visitors on transit can stop over.
MM: What is the status of the TIIR building? When can we expect it to be inaugurated and made functional?
Director: Some minor yet vital aspects on the TIIR Building have not yet been completed, e.g., toilets and the external electric cables leading up to the building. There has also been some change of hands in the supervision of the project and so the progress slacked. There was some height difference in the building and the adjacent lawn, wherefore we decided to make a basement. But that created a problem for the Workshop which was hence shifted to the basement. Also, the safety parameters of the building need to be taken into account. So, it is expected to be finished by the end of next month and a full-fledged inauguration should take place subsequently.
MM: The Golden Jubilee building shall be a landmark construction on the NITR campus. What is the timeline for its completion?
Director: With regard to the Golden Jubilee Building, we have finished constructing the top floor and no more floors are left to be made, except the tower. But, it is a low priority job at present. The higher priority is being given to the hostels, i.e., construction of Satish Dhawan, and construction of the faculty residences. There is a cash flow problem, and more emphasis needs to be given for the development of the other departments - Mechanical, Architecture etc.
MM: What new plans do we have for NITR in the pipeline for this year, in terms of infrastructure or major policy changes?
Director: We have a new architecture building coming up behind the Mechanical Department. The existing building will be polished up, but the Architecture Council has mandated the construction of a new building of stipulated specifications. There are a few changes being planned for the students; for their own benefit. Presently, students rely too much on the summer courses. And failing in summer courses has retrospective effects on their CGPA creating scenarios where they are eligible to leave the institute. A shift to the SGPA system for such cases is hence being debated. Also, the current grade sheets do not reflect any repeat courses. The companies will henceforth be provided with a career graph of the student shall they so desire. Students will also have an option to request for such a career grade card. But the typical grade card issued will still have only a single instance of a course. We have also decided to introduce compulsory swimming lessons keeping in mind the various unfortunate incidents in the past. These, however, are very minor changes and as such do not affect the majority of students.