After finishing my schooling and then during graduation ,I always had doubts regarding the pedagogy with which engineering, science, commerce and even arts at the university level(exams,syllabus et al) was carried on.
During my Master in Arts(M.Music-Khairagarh Univesrity), I got so disappointed that my disagreement and hopelessness with the system & process in specifics, culminated and made me to drop out of the college and I decided to say bye to the university system of teaching.
Later on during Gurukul days I feel that I’ve rediscovered the zeal for the education within myself.
Today I plan to write down what I believe and think about the ideal education, whether it is in arts,commerce or even science & technology!!!!
It is a rebirth for me -first as an engineer, then an artist and now as an engineering-artist who thinks slightly differently.
Faced with rapid and incessant change in the disciplines of electronics and computer engineering (from onwards ECE),some educationists argue that we should deliberately not respond aggressively. Rather we should focus on fundamentals which will serve the students well for an entire career.
But can I ask what those fundamentals are? Naturally it’s desirable to impart all feasible fundamentals but that seems impossible considering the exponential breadth of the knowledge required for the ECE area. Now the question is -what are our educational priorities? What are the fundamental skills and knowledge that are important for a future career in ECE?
In this context electronics engineering contains integrated and device design, microelectronics, electromagnetics, control systems,digital and mixed signal processing and so on. Computer engineering encompasses the design of computer systems-the hardware(such as processors ,network swithches,peripherals)and related software(compilers,operating software and networking software)..Now the emerging areas are those who started due to overlap of both the areas like VLSI-CAD and Embedded Systems .
CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY
There has been considerable shift from power electronics,general domain of electricity ,magnetism ie. From power transmission and rotating machinery to electronics..Then vaccum tubes to semiconductors, from discrete circuits to integrated circuits. analog to digital circuits and then mixed..And the most recent in programmable digital hardware..
The most important factor is that change in power to electronics hardly shifts fundamental knowledge and skills changes the nature of design process..But shift from vaccum tubes to seiconductors has almost opposite effects..The essential fundamentals changed from the scratch(from free space electron motions to holes and electrons in semiconductors) the design skills changed considerably but not the system design..
But shift from analog to digital and from fixed to programmable did change everything-skills, fundamental knowledge and the systems design..
Now what design skills must engineers be taught?What are the characteristics of the systems being designed,and how must they be implemented into the curriculum??
Moore’s law (exponential increase in capability at fixed price)has profound implications over time.It has made possible the designs which are found to be unrealistic due to lack of knowledge and impractical to implement..
Now a days performance and efficiency are less critical design issues then they used to be..Of course some exceptions are there such as wireless communications. But as a whole and in widening circle of applications efficiency is eclipsed by the desire to minimize cost and time to market..
The essential difference today is that software is sequential and hardware is concurrent but this description is also blurring..Technologies such as behavioral compilers are introducing more sequential style in the hardware..Similarly concurrent languages are making software to behave in concurrent manner..Now the question become one of choosing the right abstraction and not of choosing between hardware and software..
Since every software design when seeing from other level of absraction is a hardware design…
So I believe that students must have the liberty to select the abstraction and not the technology only..
Design of multimillion gate chips would have been impossible to accomplish without the assistance of computer aided toolsets..It is important that this role ,which was the most instrumental is the least to evolve..
Many engineers will be working in smaller organisations ,woking more on narrowly focussed market.In that case each engineer has to give him/herself to more diversified role,in areeas like marketing,standardisation ,contractual relationship,management and so on..Naturaly engineers who are “strictly technical”are not valued in such organisations..
Are we saying that should know not only basic technologies but also complexity management,design automation,economics and human factors..YES,absolutely you got it!!
Clearly something has to be given..
If we have to contain the knowledge explosion to some extent then we have to design the curricula in overlappinig manner..
another solution is to extend the education period ,as four years is just not sufficient to train an engineer in an environment..
MOST IMPORTANT:TEACHINIG LEARNINIG SKILLS
“Take life one day at a time and gain knowledge as if you have to live forever”
Keeping in mind the importance of the fast and ever changing trends in the industry and the technological advancements-”learning remans somewhat an unending journey “.They will face continuous change and the most important skill above all which we can impart to them is the ability to learn,knowledge to how to learn ,and wisdom to understand how to be a student??
We should depend on the students to pickup more of the technology examples ,including assignments in which they do exploration in the internet to find out current and relevent examples.And believe me this will give them the useful vocational knowledge,buttress the principle an dmost importantly a habbit will be cultivated in them to pick up the vocational knowledge on their own..
It is far more important that our students be bright ,intellectual and above all curious and unafraid of learning new things..
As in the field as dynamic as that of ours ,voactional skill can enjoy longevity.More oftenly stduents are asked to improve their programming skills or else learn “C/C++/Verilog/Java”..What I think is the fundamental concepts of digital design,data structures and object oriented concepts will prepare the better..
AN EDUCATION IN ECE MUST BE DIFFERENT FOR DIFERENT STUDENTS
It is possible ..I don’t think that something which is right but difficult should be skipped on account of its difficulty level and something wrong but easy implementation of same has to be followed..Atleast it should not be aloowed for something as beautiful and sacred as education through which we not only impart technical knowledge but values too..
I believe that there should be a proper blending between computer and electronics curriculla..And more importantly student should be taught to be a student..As they say-
“WHENEVER THE STUDENT IS READY THE TEACHER WILL APPEAR”
“We must believe that when the spirit is willing the body must follow”
We should understand and analyze the education life in universities and colleges.Exam schedules,vacations,tests,practicals-and that somewhat we are not really able to implement some of the very beautiful theories ,philosophies into real life..
As we said a student is not in the position to engross in the subject unless he is taught how to learn..some may have the internal motivation and inspiration /aspiration to learn..What about the others??
We should know the importance of group learning, learning from each other, and the liberty for the student to allow to go on his own pace..
We must equip them with the inherent tool so that they can answer on their own-the “HOW TO” tool..
We must think when one knows how to learn and is in habit of learning how to take responsibilities he becomes a perpetual and eternal human being to learn from the society and teach it in some way or the other..We must try to teach them to respect the knowledge as I trust that-
”One who doesn’t respect and utilize knowledge has no advantage above the one who doesn’t know what is knowledge..”