Published: 19th June 2019
What are the new courses at MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences? Find out here
Dr Sivaguru S Sritharan, Vice-Chancellor of MSRUAS talks about his vision for the institute and the new courses that will be launched soon
From providing a stipend to postgraduate students to plans of integrating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with Health Sciences, Dr Sivaguru S Sritharan, Vice-Chancellor of MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (MSRUAS) wants to do all that he can to ensure that they are on par with private universities in the US. He says, "Computational Science and Supercomputing are also on my list and I think India should become proactive in this field to develop more software instead of spending lakhs to buy it from the US." Excerpts from the interview:
Is there enough scope for new UG courses like BSc in Food Processing and Technology, Sports and Exercise Science?
Before we launched the Food Processing and Technology course, many experts from the field of Health Sciences were consulted and they gave us a positive response. Because of the fact that India is an agricultural country and food plays an important role in all homes, there is enough scope for students who want to pursue BSc in Food Processing and Technology. They can either bag jobs with private companies or with government departments where food is tested and certified. With many youngsters taking interest in a career in sports, Sports and Exercise Science course is best suited for such aspirants. They will learn some of the best management skills in sports and get to work with various sports and fitness clubs, national-level sports associations and so on.
What is your new course Product Design all about?
These programmes are highly popular in Western countries. Bachelor’s in Product Design is a four-year graduate course that falls under the category of Art and Design. Unlike Mechanical Engineering, this course concentrates only on the artistic part of automobiles. We help students improve their artistic skills. The curriculum is designed with the help of faculty who has vast teaching experience and long-standing relationships with foreign universities, particularly Coventry University in the UK. This course is designed in a way that helps students develop critical thinking, creative and innovative abilities and imbibe in them relevant practical skills for a smooth transition from academics to a real-life work environment. Under this programme, students have to do their internship in India or abroad, depending on their preference.
Brain behind MSRUAS: Dr Sivaguru S Sritharan, Vice-Chancellor of MS Ramaiah University of Applied Sciences (MSRUAS)
What is the process you follow to make students work-ready?
We have made a lot of efforts to design the curriculum and make it non-traditional. Earlier, when we introduced BTech courses, the curriculum was designed in a way that it prepared the students for a master's degree programme or a PhD. But these days, our engineering courses are designed in a way that matches the needs of the industry. We used to offer around 24 master’s courses, but now, we have reduced the number to 13 so that we can provide a greater and focused specialisation. Apart from this, we will soon be introducing innovation as a part of the curriculum and five credits will be given to the students for this.
There is an option called open elective which is mandatory for every degree student. Under this, every student can pick one subject from another degree or course. For example, a mechanical engineering student can take up a subject from the Bachelor of Pharmacy course to know how medicines are made. This is the modern mindset of our institution.
What are your future plans for MSRUAS?
My future plans include integrating Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning with our medical enterprise. Hence, we have advertised to hire experts in AI in both Engineering and Health Sciences. Since we are good at storing and have access to the data of various case studies, it has given us an opportunity to partner with international universities like the University of Illinois at Chicago and at Urbana-Champaign. We are also in talks with these universities to establish a brain research centre on MSRUAS’ campus.
Secondly, we will be inviting researchers and professors from universities like Texas A&M University and experts in subjects like Hypersonic. I consider top private universities in the US as a role model and I want to compete with them instead of competing with universities in our state. Like them, I want to implement the fiscal model here where postgraduate students are funded by the government, professors of the university and alumni. Their research work is funded and they are paid stipends. I think this model will attract more students to postgraduate programmes. This model will help us in the long run and thus, we will get the opportunity to work on bigger projects from ISRO and DRDO. Hopefully, the Indian government will start treating private universities on par with the IITs and IIScs in terms of allocating funds because the students here can also become great doctors or engineers.
I had pursued a thesis in Aerodynamics in 1982 and it's time for India to become proactive in this field. Every day, I sign several documents giving my approval to buy certain software programmes as they are licensed by Western countries. I think this has to change gradually and that can happen only if we source efficient people who can train youngsters. Hence, we are thinking about the feasibility of introducing a supercomputing facility like the US.
Research plays a key role: Students work on their projects in the lab at MSRUAS
Are there any students from MSRUAS who will be visiting the University of Illinois at Chicago for higher studies?
Yes, after several rounds of interviews, we have selected five students who will visit the university. There is a new format in the form of 3+1+1 for BTech students. After completing three years, they will complete their fourth year abroad. The credits are given to them and transferred to MSRIT and MSRUAS respectively. And if they complete one more year at Illinois, then they can get a master’s degree from that university and a bachelor's degree from MSRIT.
You had informed that MS Ramaiah Group will soon be launching a law school. What are the steps you have taken in this regard?
Initially, when I came here, opening a law school was just a proposal and now it has been approved. Apart from this, we will be organising six one-day workshops for students interested in taking up Law and also design the curriculum for them with the help of experts. In fact, we will also come up with a performing arts school for youngsters who are interested in acting, direction and so on.