Published: 15th May 2019
The REVA legacy: Why Shyama Raju's vision has shaped the future of education
Dr P Shyama Raju, Chancellor, REVA University talks about the new courses which will be launched this year and the gym facility for students to be fit and active
Dr P Shyama Raju, Chancellor of REVA University believes in the philosophy, 'Knowledge is power'. Through REVA University, he is implementing the same and building a community of perpetual learners by enabling them to look beyond their abilities and achieve what they assumed impossible. He says, "If a building is wrongly constructed, then we can demolish and reconstruct the same. But if the education and a step towards career go wrong, it cannot be reconstructed. Hence I see that all children in our college take their academics seriously and perform well." Thus, he makes it a point to attend some of the lectures in his college along with the students to know if they really understand what is taught. Excerpts from the interview:
1)What led you to start REVA University?
When the business was at its peak in DivyaSree Developers, we were thinking of what we can give back to society. My wife, Rukmini suggested starting an educational institution but I was reluctant to start one. I or my family did not have much knowledge about running educational institutions. Within three to four months, she died in an accident. I felt that I must fulfil her wish and decided to start the educational institution in her name. Therefore we named it as REVA which means Rukmini Educational Vision Academy in 2002.
Initially, we had a building which was 50,000 sq ft, 200 students and 25 faculty members and a few BTech courses to offer. Gradually, we grew and added 30 acres of land. Now we have 15,000 students and 2 million square feet of buildings, 1,600 employees. 4,000 students have a hostel facility and 200 professors have got a facility inside the campus. It is true that we did not know how to run educational instituions. Therefore, I decided to learn everyday from my experiences and people around me. I make it a point to observe and learn from these places I visit. This is my 15th year of learning at REVA. I don't learn and forget it at that point but I implement the same in my college.
Inside the campus: REVA University in Bengaluru is a huge campus that houses many engineering and non-engineering departments, incubation centre for the startups, hostel and medical facilities
2) Are there any new courses that you will launch this year?
The syllabus and courses change as per the requirement of the industries in a particular field. We have a Syllabus Preparation Committee where we hvae experienced professors and one person is from a particular industry. They will suggest on the relevant topics that we need to include for the curriculum. Accordingly, we introduce new courses for our students. This year, we will be starting a new branch in engineering called Bachelors in Mechatronics. Mechatronics Engineering is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on mechanical, electronics and electrical systems and also includes a combination of robotics, computer, telecommunication and product engineering. The main advantage after the completion of this programme is that one can not only work in the field of mechatronics, but has equal opportunities in the other stream of engineering such as mechanical, electronics, electrical, computer and information technology.
Similarly, we have a new course in BBA in Retail Management, BBA in Entrepreneurship in collaboration with Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, Ahmedabad. It is meant to train the first generation entrepreneurs who can establish and run their own business or a startup . Another new course is BCom in Capital marketing. The curriculum followed is contemporary in nature & emphasises on issues related to current relevance. related to bonds, RBI policies, foreign exchange etc.
Top courses: Among all the engineering courses offered at REVA Institute of Technology and Management, Computer Science and Information Technology, Mechanical Engineering are the most popular ones
3) Since REVA is one step ahead in all the educational aspects, Are you people going paperless during exams?
Yes, We have started the initiative of paperless exams recently. Last year, few of the internal assessment exams as well as one end semester exam was conducted using a device that looks similar to a note pad called DigiTaal. This device can either register the thumb impression of the students or it has an eye retina recognition system. Once it is registered, the student can unlock the device and start writing the exam. Even the teachers can check the question paper in this device. One can draw graphs, do rough work for calculations, they can take additional sheets etc. Even the teachers can evaluate the papers digitally and the results can be out in an hour or so. In the next academic year, We plan to provide this device for all the 15,000 students on the campus to write their exams.
4) How is REVA helping students to be work ready?
Realising that it is important for the students to be work ready before they get a job, we start our training programmes for students from the third semester. There are classes that will train students in English speaking skills, aptitude, body language and group discussion. Apart from this, we help them to get into internships in different companies so that they learn the work on the field. We counsel them to choose the right career and understand their strength and weakness.
Just like them: One could possibly spot the Chancellor chatting with a bunch of students or having a meal with them
5) What is Jagruti all about and how was the response from people?
I believe that students should be involved in social outreach programmes to make a positive impact on society. Hence, we launched Jagruti under REVA Electoral Literacy Association. It is a student-led campaign to create voting awareness among people. We were successful in reaching out to more than 1.5 lakh families in the Byatarayanapura Constituency and asked them to practice their right to vote. We got immense support for this programme from the government. The State Election Commission honoured me with an award for the Jagruti Campaign and the work we did. We have plans to launch 2nd phase of Jagruti in March 2019. This times, we will work the issues that have been existing in society.
6) Are there any programmes that will help students with fitness and exercises apart from studies?
I believe that an active mind is a result of a fit body. Thus, our college will have a new facility for a gym with high-end machines. In two months time, the machines will be installed. Every day, our students have to dedicate their one hour for fitness activities. The more fit and active they are, the better they can perform in academics.
What an honour: Dr P Shyama Raju was felicitated by the State Election Commission for creating voting awareness among people through his Jagruti campaign
7) What are your suggestions for the startups coming up in Bengaluru?
One should have a certain set of principles that must be followed without fail. Startups can be successful if one can be punctual for work, financial discipline and research before investing money for a particular idea. Apart from this, youngsters must learn from the mistakes and not take it as a failure. They should not give up for smaller mistakes. Here, we have a REVA Nest which is the incubation centre for many start-ups. There are around 23 start-ups currently working in the REVA Nest. We aim to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem by empowering and nurturing student startups and incubating innovative technology-based start-ups