Employability of fresh engineers and 10,000 hours of practice

Recently I went to deliver a lecture in some engineering college in an industrial town of South India.

My lecture was practically of no significance to the college. Their bigger worry was how to increase employability of their students.

This got me thinking. If I relate back to my experience in conducting campus interviews, I can also list out a bunch of challenges in finding fresh engineers worthy of hiring. The top disappointments are:

  • Many students don’t study. In one of the major South Indian states, most MCA students pass exams just by reading “guides” or solutions to preset questions.
  • Of those who study, many don’t carry out their final year project. In the dark alleys of Bangalore, you can buy a final year project for as low as INR 5,000/- One of the boys I knew had paid so little, got a “project assigned”. All he had to do was to write comments in a comment-less code. This competitive corruption of engineering kills sincere attempts to develop a business model of assigning final-year projects to students
  • During the curriculum, projects are assigned with a narrow, key-hole, from-class-to-class perspective. There is no “carry-over” from a Data Structure course to an Artificial Intelligence course – or a Digital Electronics course to a VLSI course. So necessary breadth of view doesn’t develop
  • Because curriculum projects are assigned from a chapter to another chapter, virtually no student has any experience in dealing with
    • multiple source files
    • make or ant
    • version control systems
    • bug tracking systems
    • even a debugger – because by the time you code up to a debugger-worthy program, your semester/project is over and the kloc resets
  • Most of the time any reasonably complex concept is introduced in a text book and may be addressed in a semester, the time runs out. So nobody seem to know pointers, vector tables, graphs (in data structures), stored procedures and triggers, OR-mapping, sequential logic, analog computing – anything past half of the text book. Everyone ends up knowing only control structures in various languages
  • Because smaller, frequent projects are not suitable for any serious problem solving, Indian students must have written a million versions of Library Management system last year
  • Creativity never arises because this system runs out of time by the time someone can afford to experiment
  • Even knowledge of keyboarding isn’t a prerequisite for Computer Science/Engineering/Applications courses. So students find it frustrating to enter the program even as a data entry – and frustration keeps breeding further frustration
  • Colleges are interested in increasing the quantity in their placement record. So they invite only the companies that hire by at least dozens. Such companies are typically in the service side, rather than on product development side. Such companies usually rely more on their in-house training centers than on the university system to impart some technical knowledge to students. In my opinion, these diluted expectations for getting your first pay cheque (no matter how puny) is the second leading cause of this disappointment

Could there be a way out? Please express your views and stay tuned!

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3 comments on “Employability of fresh engineers and 10,000 hours of practice

  1. Jostin Yohannan says:

    Really true…..I too have attended your lecture in that industrial town… But what u said is the truth and the colleges have downgraded the value of engineering(in my case)…..

  2. Rakesh says:

    As a student my answer is yes . Sometime even i do the same thing πŸ™‚ when the subject is not so interesting for me . i always prefer doing some nice projects but always get stuck up with academic improvements πŸ™‚

  3. […] the first two posts, we have discussed fundamental reasons leading to lack of employability in Engineering students and how massive employment drives by companies disincentivise good study […]

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