With the sublime objective of providing high-quality Technical Education enriched with fundamental Human Values, the founder and the first Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church, His Beatitude Moran Mor Cyril Baselios Catholicos, decided to establish Mar Baselios College of Engineering and Technology (MBCET) in 2002. In his words, “This engineering college is meant to train and develop men and women of a higher calibre, equipped with the most modern scientific knowledge and technological skills destined not only to help our people in their march towards progress but also to bring glory and honour to our people and our country. The students of our college are to strive for excellence and skills and in the pursuit of success in life, in terms of their commitment to bring happiness to our fellow beings and for the development of our Nation.”
Set against the backdrop of the serene and panoramic Bethany hills, away from the hustle and bustle of the city life, yet enjoying a pride place in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram City, the MBCET campus provides an ideal milieu for academic pursuits. The fortified campus is named Mar Ivanios Vidyanagar – one of the largest educational campuses in Kerala – at Nalanchira, just 5 km from the heart of the City and has 17 educational Institutions co-located. An eco-friendly infrastructure concept has been executed in the campus with rainwater harvesting, grid-connected 200 kW solar power plant, water recycling and proper waste management measures integrated to render a neat campus with ample greenery. Aesthetically designed buildings in nine blocks spread over the campus have a total built-up area of over 34930 sqm for a student strength of 2500, spread across the five B.Tech Programmes and five M.Tech Programmes.
The college has been conferred with the autonomous status in July 2020, which has come as a recognition of the quality exemplified by the NAAC Score of 3.13 and A-Grade. All the five B.Tech Programmes were accredited by the NBA initially for three years in 2016. These Programmes were re-accredited in 2019. The vision of MBCET is to be an Institution moulding globally competent Professionals as epitomes of Noble Values. “We wish to reach out to all sections of our society, without any consideration of religion, caste, creed or financial status. Quality for Nation-building is our slogan,” says His Beatitude Moran Mor Baselios Cardinal Cleemis Catholicos, Patron of the College and Major Archbishop of the Malankara Syrian Catholic Church.
MBCET and Industry Collaborations
Engineering institutions are natural channels of supply of the human capital to the industries. The current trend of asking for industry-readiness for the new recruit to become productive from day one encompasses various facets of the graduate’s attributes that are required to be achieved through education and training. Industry collaborations form a crucial part in developing an ecosystem for helping a student learn through extramural opportunities of exposure to the industry and for the faculty to update the syllabus to impart the relevant education. “We have set the tradition of handholding students from day one. The training part goes along with the academics so that students can develop their personality. The co-curricular and extracurricular activities provide additional impetus to professional growth. MBCET nurtures the student from their first year by giving them soft skills training and opportunities for higher order thinking and problem solving are provided in the subsequent semesters,” explains Dr Abraham T Mathew, PhD (IIT Delhi), Principal, MBCET.
MBCET has a strong faculty advisory system by which the advisor mentors a group of 20 to 25 students in each class in the college from the first day of admission. The advisor identifies the potential of the students and guides them accordingly in their course works and internships. They help the students identify the industries to which they can go for projects or internships, thereby enhancing and encouraging their skill sets and their enthusiasm to work in societal problems. The college has signed MoUs with several industry partners to get preferential treatment from the industry.
MBCET has formally institutionalised the collaborations with the industry by creating a new portfolio of “Corporate Relations” and appointing a full-time Professor to look after that. This division will create an ecosystem for promoting skill development and enabling industry-academia connect, career guidance, placements, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
The faculty at MBCET
“Our faculty members are unique in their culture of mutual care and share. All are postgraduates, and a good number possess doctorates too. The average age of the faculty is 40, but there are seniors with rich experience too. A majority of the Institute faculty members are rank holders who have graduated from the top Institutions in India. Our academic bodies and committees have experts drawn from IITs, NITs and the leading Universities from all over India,” explains Dr Abraham. The faculty members’ knowledge and enthusiasm at MBCET in learning new topics transcend to the students also. They are very keen on updating their knowledge to make themselves aware of the latest technologies. Hence, they are regularly involved in organising and attending Short-term Training Programmes and Faculty Development Programmes and presenting papers at International Conferences.
Believing in keeping its faculties updated, MBCET introduces the latest trends and technologies in their areas of expertise through different channels. All faculty members are encouraged to upskill themselves in teaching-learning, technical capabilities and other soft skills and values through regular and structured training. The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) was formed to inspire, support, and strengthen new pedagogy and learning directions at MBCET. TLC facilitates courses through customised workshops and training programmes on innovative teaching and assessment methods by partnering with faculty members and peer learning practices. TLC receives technical support from the faculty of elite institutions like IIT Madras, IIT Bombay, Bennett University, NIT Calicut, IIST, NITK Surathkal for conducting the faculty training and development programmes in various domains of teaching.
“Also, there is an Internal Quality Assurance Cell at MBCET, which conducts audits twice a year to verify the teaching and evaluations done by the faculty members. IQAC is also the nodal centre for submitting annual reports to the NAAC and the affiliating University,” adds Dr Abraham.
Working toward reducing Skill Shortage in the Indian Economy
“Skill shortage remains as one of the major constraints to the continued growth of the Indian economy”: a study about the human resource potential of India says. It’s been observed that employers perceive Soft Skills (Core Employability Skills and Communication Skills) to be very important. Skill gaps are particularly severe in the higher-order thinking skills ranked according to Bloom’s taxonomy. Although employers across India ask for the same soft skills set, their skill demands differ for Professional Skills across the economic sectors, company sizes, and regions. These findings suggest that engineering education institutions should seek to improve the skill set of graduates, recognise the importance of soft skills, refocus the assessments, teaching-learning process, and curricula and interact more with employers to understand the particular demand for skills in that region and sector. Since its inception, MBCET has been addressing these challenges. “We emphasise on the trios of knowledge, skill and attitude as the pertinent qualities that an engineering graduate should, invariably, possess,” says Dr Abraham.
The college has been trying to globalise the community by establishing connectivity with the leading institutions. International Universities like Bowie State University, USA, Gannon University, USA, Malardalen University, Sweden, University of Dayton, USA and many more had active links. MBCET has a good placement rate every year, of which 50 to 60% of the students go for on-campus placement, while 20 to 30% opt for the off-campus chances on their own choice. “A good number turn towards self-employment, and some of them opt for higher studies as well,” adds Abraham. Since the college is situated in the prime location of Kerala’s capital city, there are many avenues for students to scale up their career prospects.
Besides focusing on producing skilled professionals, MBCET also focuses on innovation. The college has a FabLab facility and a Maker Space created with the Kerala Startup Mission’s help. It provides the students with an ecosystem conducive to innovations. It also facilitates idea incubation. “There are a variety of measures that foster innovations of the students. The task is usually taken by the student chapters of the leading professional organisations like IEEE, CSI, ASCE, IET, ISHRAE, ASME, and so on,” says Abraham. Students at MBCET are provided support and mentoring for participation in the Smart India Hackathon, Young Innovators Meet and E Yantra, etc. A recent competition piloted by the college had attracted 400 plus students from across India. MBCET is part of the ReBuild Kerala Initiative of the State Government. Its innovations are applied to monitoring river pollution and suggest measures for rejuvenating the rivers.
Amidst Pandemic, MBCET Continues to Grow
MBCET entered a new phase of growth by attaining the status of Autonomy in 2020. The communication regarding the conferment of autonomy was received in July 2020 when COVID-19 had adversely affected the state, and the lockdown was prevalent. However, the pandemic has not thrown the activities into disarray. College acted on time, and for the continuation of the academic works, they started using a blended learning approach. The learning from the experiences and challenges faced during lockdown was tremendous. The positives that have happened during the lockdown period were the maximisation of ICT infrastructure use because of the shift in teaching and learning from the classical offline mode to online mode. Faculty and staff could stay safe as they could reduce the travel time and the strain during the lockdown days. Everyone managed their work and life balance during COVID time due to the new timetable specially made for the lockdown period.
As far as the future plans are concerned, MBCET is developing homegrown classroom management mechanisms and effective teaching by proctoring the appropriate solutions. College is working on its Resource Centre for content generation because online learning has become a priority item. Faculty have rolled up their sleeves to pursue the research on topics relevant in the post-COVID scenario. The second move is deploying a 360-degree solution for the fully automated Learning Management System to enable accuracy and accountability in the system. The third initiative is to implement a globally relevant curriculum and the corresponding facilities to enable the students to learn the latest topics in their areas of specialisation. “Covid had taught us the imperativeness of ICT as a platform for education, and the same had opened up challenges in enabling immersive learning. 3D animation and AR/VR shall also be used in the content generation to help deliver the topics of engineering subjects effectively and to enable us to follow the learner-centric approach in the teaching-learning process. We need to explore the pedagogies of digital education that have become the new normal. Works in these directions have been started,” concludes Dr Abraham.
About Dr Abraham T Mathew, PhD(IIT Delhi), Principal
Dr Abraham T Mathew joined MBCET as Principal in October 2020. Previously, he worked with National Institute of Technology Calicut (NIRF 23 in 2020 ranking) from 1985 to 2020. Dr Abraham was Professor in Electrical Engineering when he left that Institute to join MBCET. He had discharged various duties like Dean, Registrar, Head of the Department, and many more when he was with NIT Calicut; primarily as TEQIP Coordinator for the three phases starting from 2002 onwards. He has supervised several PhD works and has authored/co-authored many research publications.