Indian engineering education is undergoing a major revamp as the government focuses on manufacturing and engineering. This includes upgrading engineering colleges, improving faculty quality, and providing better infrastructure for students. This sector is aligned with the government’s Make In India initiative, so engineering education is expected to grow both in the short and long run. Each year, India develops significant infrastructure to provide engineering education to tens of thousands of students across the country.
While technical education has made tremendous progress over the past decade, women are still disproportionately underrepresented in engineering. As women advance into leadership roles in engineering education, it could increase the appeal of engineering as a career to young women and encourage women already involved in engineering education to aspiring to leadership positions. It goes without saying that a highly-talented engineer or technician can only be produced by excellent engineering and vocational training. With enviable teaching and training in engineering education, Susmita Sarkar, Chairperson, Dream Institute of Technology (DIT), provides quality and accredited technical education at a scale to meet the next generation of engineering skill requirements.
The Dream Institute of Technology was founded in 2006 by Sarkar Trust, inspired by the government’s decision to encourage private initiative in higher technical education. The institute’s vision is to provide quality technical education to equip the country’s youth with employable and industry-ready skills at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The Dream Institute of Technology established educational standards by emphasising five key pillars: dedication, research, education, advancement, and motivation.
Susmita shares, “Dream Institute of Technology was established with a vision to impart skill-enhanced manpower to the locality who can serve the country better with their proper engineering skills. I like to share that Dream Institute of Technology is the first institution in Eastern India to have an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Cell funded by the DST, Govt. of India.”
Proficient Education Leader – From Scratch
Susmita was a quiet student who prioritised her education, earning graduate and post-graduate degrees from a university. “I understood and learned the importance of teamwork and making proper decisions in life from my college days, and I never repented,” Susmita recalls. She learned time management as a child, which she now employs to manage her activities and schedule.
“I’m using my knowledge and skills to make this institute world-class,” Susmita says. I used digitisation in the selection of qualified faculty, a focus on emerging technology and best practices on campus, and using novel ideas and proper accreditation systems. The DIT team focuses on the student-centric learner and the students on a one-by-one rotational basis, providing a safe working environment for the women, providing the best facilities for the handicapped, and providing an environment that is safe for the handicapped.
“I do not consider myself a leader at Dream Institute of Technology, but rather administrative technology,” Susmita continued, “but my role is crucial because whatever I do may be reflected in the institute’s functioning.” Susmita is a key decision-maker who ensures that the institute’s overall development does not stall. At the same time, she is accountable for the institute’s reputation, caring about the students’ future and looking after all of her employees and the institute’s future. She always makes better plans, observes the reasons for them, accurately calculates them with financial projections in consultation with her advisory teams, and then makes appropriate decisions as a key role player.
Motivating Students to Think Outside the Box
The Dream Institute of Technology’s motto is that innovation is the only way to live. They emphasise the students’ inventiveness. Susmita believes that each student is unique and that their needs are not the same. As a result, she strongly advises against using the traditional book method. “I encourage my students to come up with innovative ideas, which will be turned into projects by the end of their curriculum at the institution,” Susmita says. “I believe that more and more innovations will shape and create them, and wherever they go in their professional life, whether in jobs or doing some business or starting their own startups, they will excel in their ideas, and that will be the future of India.”
Susmita has provided proper input to her entire executive team, as well as her faculty members and management, to take steps in innovation and technology innovation platforms and to harvest creative skills in students through inter and intra-college competitions. At the same time, the regular classes are dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship development in collaboration with other organisations nationally and globally to function and nurse the students’ innovation and creativity.
Conquering COVID Challenges
The Covid presented educators with a significant challenge. It has completely changed the country’s scenario. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit India in March 2020, and the country went into lockdown, it made it extremely difficult for Indian educational institutions to hold physical classes. The government mandated online classes, which resulted in a significant change in the educational system’s scenario. However, the situation presented a significant challenge to students and teachers regarding adapting them to simulate the online platform, handling the technology, and then talking about the content. “It was a bit advantageous as Chairperson of the Dream Institute of Technology to keep the future of the students in mind to provide them with the best educational support,” Susmita explained.
“By the end of 2019, I had planned to introduce online classes via an LMS, which is why I bought and collaborated, and we were preparing the online lectures, online tutorials, digital content, and many other things for incorporation into this LMS,” Susmita recalls. “So, by the time the pandemic hit in March 2020, we were already accustomed to online teaching and understood what was going on.” DIT had already created digital content and videos that were beneficial to students. On the other hand, their students were more accustomed to online instruction through this LMS. “This offline to online transition was very smooth for me, and the journey was beneficial during the Pandemic, which I had used before. The implementation of online logbooks in customisation with our ERP platform was already ready to use soon after the pandemic began,” Susmita added.
Enhancing & Updating Every Step of Leadership
“The significance to me personally is of my father, because from him I learned how to succeed without any support despite coming from a humble background, and he also taught me never to lose hope until the very last moment and to face challenges bravely,” Susmita says.
“As I am a technocrat and an engineer in education, I keep up with the latest trends in education,” Susmita says. Following the post-COVID situation, the educational paradigm has shifted towards holistic education with human values as guided by statutory bodies, as well as the online learning method, open learning method, and synchronous learning, resulting in the best learning. She is focused on all of these things and tries to bring them together in her faculty members and the department so that they can be updated as needed in accordance with the New Education Policy of 2020.
Susmita understands that growth is often accompanied by awkward stumbles. “In fact, when the institution first started, I made many mistakes,” she says, “but I know that with experience, with maturity, I have found my way by stumbling over those stones. I’ve learned hard lessons from failures, and now I focus and think twice before making any constructive decision so that it does not negatively affect me, my institution, or my entire team of employees and students for whom I seek attention.”
While Susmita does spend a lot of time at her institute working and making it a point to attend every day, “I spend the first hour of my day practising yoga and meditating,” she says. “I suppose this helps me stay calm and healthy throughout the day.”
Advancing DIT through Innovation & Sustainability
Susmita underlines, “As an academic administrator, I think that with the implementation of the New Education Policy in 2020, there would be new dimensions in education, and I think it is the most advanced and most modified, so there is no change to be made, only it is to be followed as for the goal.”
Susmita is currently in charge of getting the institute accredited by the appropriate bodies, as well as looking for ways to establish news institutes and collaborate with foreign partners so that it can grow.
DIT’s long-term goal is to have this institute self-sustaining by 2024, which means that your mid-server level is created and the institute is self-sufficient in financing and other administrative functions.
Women’s Leadership Status & Token of Advice
Women in leadership positions continue to be a minority in India, but this is not a barrier. It is rapidly expanding, with an increasing number of women assuming leadership roles as entrepreneurs, as well as in various industries and businesses, and leading the country. Susmita concludes, “I hope that more women will take on leadership roles in the education sector. I hope that the number of women in leadership positions can be increased by giving them an opportunity, by recognising and publicising their accomplishments on social media and other digital platforms to speak to society, so that ordinary women can be inspired and consider them as role models in life, and take on challenges in India’s living conditions and become leaders who can create examples by themselves after some time.”
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