Six-month internships to twin Kannada courses: How engineering courses in Karnataka will change because of the NEP 

The Higher Education Department is developing a portal where they will be bringing the skills and IT and BT department and the companies. The portal will help students get internships
Pictures: Edexlive
Pictures: Edexlive

How much will the engineering curriculum change in Karnataka, now that the curriculum based on the National Education Policy (NEP) has been released? Visveswaraya Technological University (VTU) has already drafted a model curriculum for engineering colleges across Karnataka that are affiliated to the university. Hence, students who will be studying engineering in colleges in Karnataka will have new subjects and courses to pursue.

Last month, C N Ashwathnarayan, Higher Education Minister, Government of Karnataka announced the implementation of National Education Policy from the month of October 2021. With Karnataka being the first state to implement this policy, model curriculum is already prepared by the Higher Education Council and sent to all the institutions across the state. However, there is no hard and fast rule that colleges have to follow the model curriculum. The Higher Education Council has already stated that autonomous institutions and universities can make necessary changes or modifications in the model curriculum according to their requirements. 

Here are some of the major changes that engineering students can expect from this year. 

Design Thinking courses and more
As per the draft model curriculum prepared by VTU, the first semester, students will have a new course called Innovation and Design Thinking introduced under the category of Ability Enhancement Course. Karisiddappa, Vice-Chancellor of VTU, said, "We talk about students becoming industry-ready and that's where this course helps our students. Using designer's methods and sensibility to innovate something and address the needs of today's consumers as well as industries. These are the courses that are already available in many IITs. By introducing them, we are making them competent enough. Skills are volatile as they might change from one year to another but competency will enable the students to fulfill the needs of people."

Electives in English and Wellness 
Besides this subject, second semester students will also get to study professional writing skills in English as well as Media Law and Regulations. Biology, Health and Wellness are the other subjects that the engineering colleges will be offering from the coming academic year for the fourth semester students. 

Then there is also Research Methodology and Intellectual Property Rights as a  subject for fifth semester students. "Engineering students might wonder why they must study Biology but a lot of machines that are developed by engineers are used in the medical, agricultural and other fields. Hence, a basic or an improved knowledge in Biology is must and should for future engineers. Similarly, Intellectual

Property Rights is being taught as we deal with a lot of digital world. One must know these laws and rights irrespective of whichever branch they study."

Professional Elective Course and Open Elective Course 
Another new addition to the engineering syllabus which is mandatory for students is the Professional Elective Course, which refers to a subject or course offered within their own department. For instance, if a student is pursuing civil engineering, then they will be offered a basket of subjects like environmental engineering, structural engineering and a lot more. Similarly, if the student is pursuing Mechanical Engineering, then the student will be offered various design courses, VLSI etc. These Professional Elective Courses are mostly offered in their sixth and seventh semesters.

Similarly, there is Open Elective Courses where a student has to mandatorily choose to study a subject beyond the course they are pursuing. For instance, if there a Computer Science student, then he or she can pick any other subject from humanities, arts, law, commerce or any other engineering courses. Karisiddappa says, "We are trying to work it out between different colleges so that there is a professor or lecturer to teach these subjects to students if they choose to study it. In case a group of institutions has many colleges under one umbrella, then they can utilise the subject teachers for these open and professional elective courses.

Kannada to be given more importance
As per the directions from the state government, this year Kannada is a mandatory subject for all the undergraduate students. As a result, the VTU has divided in into two categories. Samskruthika Kannada and Balake Kannada. Karisiddappa says, "Samskruthika Kannada is for the students who originally belong to Karnataka and the ones who were born and brought up here. Balake Kannada will be for those students who come to study engineering from other states. Balake Kannada will be the basic Kannada that will help them in their daily communication. This is offered for the third semester students as we already have two different subjects during the first the second semesters."

Research or Industry Internship for six months
Apart from the subjects, this year, VTU has made a six month (24 weeks) internship compulsory for the students. These internships are again divided into two categories, Research internship and Industry internship. According to the draft copy of the curriculum, the students can pursue internship either in the seventh or eighth semester. VTU VC says, "The institutions have to divide the number of students to pursue their internship into different batches. There will be more than 60,000 to 70,000 engineering students and we cannot expect everyone to get an internship opportunity in the same semester. In fact, Dr Ashwathnarayan has promised VTU that he will build a separate digital portal for students at the state level. This portal will include Skill Development Entrepreneurship and Livelihood Department, IT and BT department and several companies like NASSCOM, MSMEs and a lot more. One such portal already exists at the national level but that was created by the AICTE. This portal at the state level will be helpful for students from VTUto get internships. At the same time, students who come from strong financial background can do their internships abroad. Some of these internships will be paid ones as the students who are in their fourth year of engineering will be already having complete knowledge and skills."

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