Digital classrooms are going to be the way forward in the post-pandemic world. Engineering education is not an exception, as it is also becoming increasingly digitized with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality tools and software. Premier insitions have already realized this fact. Agni College of Technology Chennai, which was established in the year 2001 by Sri Balaji Charitable and Educational Trust to produce high-quality engineers and technocrats, is at the forefront of adopting technology in the teaching-learning process. “We are going to have international companies train our students in virtual labs. We want our students to think and act as global citizens, and this pandemic has made us realize the importance of this to a greater extent”, opines J Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Vice Chairman, Agni College of Technology (ACT).
ACT is a forerunner in Engineering and Technology, dedicating themselves to serving society during the pandemic. “One of our student’s startup, Garuda Aerospace has helped several states across the country to carry out automated drone-based sanitization projects to disinfect public spaces and contain the spread of the coronavirus. Our students and faculty have worked towards various innovations and patented their products. Around 20 patents were filed this season”, pinpoints Agnishwar Jayaprakash.
Most colleges have outdated labs and facilities because it is a huge expense to keep updating labs. But here is where ACT is different with 15 industry powered labs run by industrial experts like L&T, TVS, Super Forge, GESTAMP Germany, Siemens Healthineers, FORD, etc. This stands testament to the fact that the college is investing in its students through their top-notch labs. With 15 Centers of Excellence, industry partners are coming in and providing assistance and guidance to their students and even helping them set up their startups. “We are not just creating industry-ready engineers, but also confident student entrepreneurs who are ready to take on the industrial expectations on their own. We are the best at what we do, and our engineers are a reflection of this excellent par training because we are continuously working towards bridging this gap between the industry expectations and training we offer our students”, shares Agnishwar Jayaprakash.
Emerging Out Strong Despite Trying Times
Like any other academic institution, Agni College of Technology did face many logistical issues in organizing classes, lectures, skilling training programs, and exams. A hands-on college that majorly focuses on their students’ industry level training, the labs at Agni College of Technology are powered by industry leaders and trainers from Gestamp Germany, Siemens Healthineers, TVS, and L&T, and this training was delayed due to the pandemic. Unlike other academic institutions, the college was quick to adapt to the digital methods of training and development.
ACT’s well trained, technologically savvy faculty members stepped up to the situation and ensured seamless handling of online classes and workshops. “We realized how much we could do through digital platforms and are very thankful for how the management has always been insistent on using digital methods to get things done. We organized many international webinars for students, and alumni meet, online project presentations, and our students even won the AEGIS Graham Bell Award despite the pandemic. Once the lockdown rules were relaxed a little, our students and faculty members immediately got down to resolving many issues the people were facing during COVID19”, states Agnishwar Jayaprakash.
With their students and professors having 10 patents pending development in the lockdown alone, ACT has been extremely active in helping combat this pandemic. With Garuda Aerospace Pvt Ltd, a startup incubated at the college that conducts sanitization operations during COVID across 45 cities and municipalities in India in just 6 months, and Agni’s VAAYU, The first of its kind bio-sanitization chamber based on air-velocity technologies that are completely organic, ATC has not been idle despite the trying times.
Helping Students become Industry-Ready
From the first semester, the Agni College students are trained in aptitude, communication, and technical skills. This motivates them into understanding how important co-curricular and extra-curricular activities are. From the first year, the college tries to identify our students’ dreams and ambitions and nurture them accordingly. AGNI PRIDE is an initiative that is student-centred run by guidance from alumni, industry experts, academicians, and faculty members. Symposiums and project presentations are organized every month for each department to ensure our students are armed with the skills they need to conquer the industry at large and learn and grow! Incubation facilities for business ideas, paper presentations, publications in research journals, etc. are also other activities of AGNI PRIDE that nurture creativity and innovation in the engineers.
Agnishwar Jayaprakash points out, “Some students want a good job with MNCs and if that is what they are looking for, we facilitate training for that. Some students want to become their Bosses and we nurture that spirit of entrepreneurship as well through our 300 startup ecosystem. Some students are undecided, and we give them the chance to test out both through our Earn While You Learn program through smaller entrepreneurship projects, industrial internships, and projects! Our industry powered labs, Centers for Research and Development, and Centers of Excellence are continuously upgraded. We have a technical club for every single department and design activities to push the students into exploring their limits and interests”. The students at ACT have got placed in reputed companies such as TCS, Wipro, Infosys, Accenture, Super Auto Forge, Malles Robotics, Worksbot, GH induction Systems Pvt Ltd, TVS, Nokia, Sanmina, etc., achieving more than 90% placements every year, for the past three years.
While covid-19 has spelt doom for most people worldwide, causing mass-scale layoffs and pay cuts, the situation has not been so bleak for engineering colleges. Principals and authorities of several such colleges in the city say that placements have never been better for their final year students. In many cases, the salary package has been higher. “We want to ensure our students are trained by not just the best industry experts in India but also internationally. We are working on tying up with other technical education institutes across the globe, facilitate exchange programs for training and development and placements too”, concludes Agnishwar Jayaprakash.
About J Agnishwar Jayaprakash, Vice Chairman
Agnishwar Jayaprakash is a global youth activist, community mobilizer & campaign strategist, driving advocacy & policy on sustainability, youth & human rights, and gender justice. He is currently the Vice-Chairman of Agni College of Technology. He uses his interpersonal skills and experience around collective action to engage citizens at all levels, from grassroots to government (Glocal), to promote progress in the areas of youth, education, climate change and gender in particular. Mindful of the need for inclusive campaigning & advocacy, Agnishwar Jayaprakash’s outreach encompasses change-makers stemming from rural, semi-urban, and urban areas.
In addition to advocacy & policy, Agnishwar Jayaprakash is a frequent speaker, facilitator, commentator and writer on several issues (youth, education, equality, social inclusion, disability, SDGs, climate etc.) and has tried to contribute to leading international & national media outlets from the perspective of a Millennial Youth. He has contributed to 4 UN publications and authored/contributed to several articles for The Guardian, Thomson Reuters and other blogs & newspapers.