The COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise, and Sharda University was no exception. Despite facing several unprecedented challenges, they strengthened themselves instead of getting bogged down by it. The University took several prompt measures. For instance, the management organized training programs for the teachers and the students to make them familiar with online teaching-learning. The teachers created separate WhatsApp groups for each subject to promote frequent student-teacher interaction.
The institute also took regular feedback from the students regarding online learning issues and put corrective actions accordingly. “Faculty members used to send recorded lectures to the students who could not attend the classes online. The Mentor-Mentee program has always been on the top of the priority list of Sharda University, and this program helped the students in dealing with the abrupt turbulence caused by the pandemic. Subsequently, the relationship between Faculty-Student became more humane and interactive,” shares Dr. Parma Nand, Dean – School of Engineering and Technology, Sharda University.
For Dr Parma Nand and his team at Sharda University, the pandemic’s biggest positive takeaway is confidence. Despite several unprecedented and unknown challenges, the way the institute has carried out its job has instilled confidence in everyone. “We have also realized that ‘Work is a thing you do and not a place you go’. Work from home, which used to be considered an escape route, has now become the need of the hour and has proven to be an effective-efficient working mode. Students who cannot attend the class physically or attend an examination due to some genuine reason need not worry anymore, as we have an alternative now,” points out Dr Parma Nand.
Blending Academics and Industry
Aiming to serve society by being a global university of higher learning, Sharda University pursues academic excellence and innovation. The institute develops deep disciplinary knowledge, problem-solving ability, leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, with its flexible credit-based system for interdisciplinary learning, enriching the academic experience. Creating an environment where students and employees from different parts of the world study, learn and socialize together, the University encourages the pursuit of knowledge. It also supports the development of the curriculum from a global perspective. “We empower each of our students to discover their potential by providing opportunities for collaborative-learning beyond the classroom, in the broader community, and across the diverse spectrum of disciplines,” states Dr Parma Nand.
Making its students employable and subsequently contribute to nation-building, Sharda University feels there is no better way than forming industry collaborations to achieve this. The University has taken several steps to establish collaboration with different industries. Regular visits and interaction with industry professionals are being carried out to understand their requirements. The institution is giving utmost importance to signing MoUs, and the faculties are encouraged to submit proposals and get funds from industries to solve their specific problems. Moreover, the University maintains a strong alumni-connect that will eventually result in better Industrial collaboration.
Sharda University aspires to be a benchmark for maintaining intellectual capital, academic quality, delivery practices, and industry linkages. They have taken several measures to achieve and maintain high-quality education. The University follows Outcome-Based Education (OBE), a student-centric teaching and learning methodology in which the course delivery and assessment are planned to achieve stated objectives and outcomes. It aims at equipping learners with the knowledge, competence, and orientations needed for success after they leave the institution. Adherence to the academic calendar, scheduling lectures for courses, preparation of course files, and reviewing the course syllabus are a few of the practices that are followed to monitor and evaluate a program’s performance. “Furthermore, feedback from the stakeholders, i.e. Students, Parents, Alumni, and Industry Experts, is collected regularly, and based on the comments received, an ATR is prepared. As far as examination/class test/quiz is concerned, they are prepared as per Bloom’s taxonomy, and question bank audit is also conducted every six months,” adds Dr Parma Nand.
The University is working relentlessly to establish and strengthen the academia-industry relationship. For instance, lectures from reputed and experienced industry professionals are frequently organized, regular industrial visits are conducted, students are constantly encouraged to participate in different conferences, events, and workshops to get exposure to the latest innovations and industrial practices. “We have also introduced skill-oriented courses in all streams, and the students are encouraged to take projects based on real-life problems. We also have laboratories and infrastructure in line with advanced technology. The addition of value-added certification courses and professional degrees further helps the students acquire multiple skills,” says Dr Parma Nand.
Employability has always been a priority area for Sharda University. More than 90% of eligible students get placed in different multi-national companies, start-ups, core companies, and many more in every batch. Last year, many students got placed in leading software companies like Tata Consultancy Service, Mindtree, IBM India, Tech Mahindra, Wipro, Goldman Sachs, Vivo India, HSBC Bank, Bharti Airtel, upGrad, among others.
Research has always been an integral part of higher education at Sharda University since its inception. The Research and Development Center at Sharda provides a vigorous and highly visible research environment to its students, intending to promote research culture and develop a habit of leadership within the University. The center supports all kinds of scholarly activities like fundamental research, applied research, and development contract research for government, non-government and international agencies. A significant increase in the number of PhD intake over the years is a testimony to this effort. The University offers seed money every year to the faculty members to get preliminary results and then subsequently apply to different agencies for funding. Furthermore, the University provides; financial support to regular faculty members for travel/registration for attending conferences, reward for publication of research papers, minor equipment grants for strengthening the infrastructure of research laboratories, reimbursement of charges for using experimental facilities available at other institutes, financial support for filing and processing of patents, and many more.
Over the years, the research efforts have expanded to include sponsored research and consultancy projects in multiple disciplines like Science, Engineering, Technology, and Management. The University continues to branch out its research vision with new faculty members/researchers and implement new policies designed to improve the research infrastructure, new academic and industry collaborations. “We are regularly welcoming external partners who support our vision by sharing ideas, pooling resources, and collaborating on findings promoting innovative research,” shares Dr Parma Nand.
Organizing conferences, seminars, workshops, FDPs, interactions with industry professionals and researchers from reputed R&D institutions, the faculty members at Sharda University are continuously upgrading their knowledge with evolving trends. Additionally, the faculties are encouraged to participate in similar activities organized by other Institutes. The faculty members contribute towards it by publishing papers and filing patents, which is possible only if they know the latest trends. The institution also provides financial support to them for being a member of Professional Societies. These societies organize events that are in line with contemporary demands. For new recruitments, PhD has been made mandatory, in line with the UGC regulation, and existing faculty members with a Master’s Degree have been directed to complete their PhD as soon as possible. “PhD candidates with Postdoc experience or exposure to foreign universities are given preference in recruitment. This upgradation in policy has resulted in a pool of highly qualified, experienced faculties in the University,” points out Dr Parma Nand.
Helping Students find their Footing
In today’s era of competition and survival of the fittest, being creative is not an option but a necessity. Sharda University has created an atmosphere where every student, irrespective of his/her past academic record or background, has to be involved in different activities where one’s creative juices get stirred. With 18 students’ clubs based on sport and cultural activities like music club, dramatic club, photography club, cricket club, etc., the students are encouraged to join, develop their skills, and subsequently participate in different intra-college and inter-college competitions. Student Welfare is the umbrella department that takes care of all, be it sports, culture, NCC, or NSS in all aspects from University to the national level.
On the academic front, few subjects like Project-based learning have been incorporated beyond the textbook and require brainstorming, creative thinking, and meticulous execution. The internal assessment marks for every subject no more comprise conventional textbook question-answer-based class tests. Instead, the students are evaluated based on mini-projects/idea generation developed by the students related to the particular subject.
To encourage and facilitate the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Sharda University has created a perfect ecosystem. At the education level, the school strives that students develop an entrepreneurial mindset. The curriculum is designed in such a manner so that it enhances the entrepreneurial understanding of the students. In addition to it, the University has established Sharda LaunchPad. It serves as a medium between entrepreneurial aspirants and the larger entrepreneurial ecosystem. The main aim of Sharda Launchpad is to translate potential business ideas and technology innovations into a product for commercial applications.
Aiming to be a globally acclaimed institution of higher education in engineering and technology, Sharda University is working extensively towards strengthening its relation with various industries. “We are focusing on improving our status of research and employability. The necessary infrastructure required to meet our vision is in progress or has been just completed, establishing the various state-of-the-art research lab, libraries, auditorium, and many more. We believe we have all the ingredients to be one of the best academic institutions in India that promote excellence in research, innovation, and entrepreneurship,” concludes Dr Parma.
About Dr Parma Nand, Dean, School of Engineering and Technology, Sharda University
Holding a PhD in Computer Science & Engineering from IIT Roorkee, M. Tech & B. Tech in Computer Science & Engineering from IIT Delhi, Prof Parma Nand has more than 27 years of experience both in industry and academia. He had received various awards like the best teacher award from Union Minister, best students project guide award from Microsoft in 2015, and best faculty award from cognizant in 2016. He had completed government-funded projects and spearheaded the last five IEEE International conferences on Computing, Communication & Automation (ICCCA), IEEE student’s chapters, Technovation Hackathon2019, Technovation Hackathon 2020, International Conference on Computing, Communication, and Intelligent Systems (ICCCIS-2021). He is a member of the Executive Council of IEEE UP section (R-10), member of Executive Committee IEEE Computer and Signal Processing Society, member Exec. India council Computer Society, member Executive Council Computer Society of India, Noida section and has acted as an observer in many IEEE conferences. He is also having active memberships of ACM, IEEE, CSI, ACEEE, ISOC, IAENG, and IASCIT. He is a lifetime member of the Soft Computing Research Society (SCRS) and ISTE.