Project work is part of the engineering curriculum and the students have to submit a project on one academic topic during the second semester in the final year. “Most of the students take it very lightly, and projects can be bought for a sum. There is a full-fledged industry surviving on this. Pay a sum and acquire a project on any topic and if a student cannot buy it, just do the ‘cut and paste' job from the internet or copy a friend's project. What they do not realise is the importance of it,” says Prof. Prasad, the principal of GMR Institute of Technology. The basic objective of the project is to make the students apply their academic knowledge in a real life scenario.
“Students should treat projects as an integral part of their academics. It gives them confidence, as the exposure in a project allows them to apply their mind and creativity. A serious approach towards project can take them a long way, not only it helps them during interviews but also during their career, says V.S.R.K. Prasad, principal of Anil Neerukonda Institute of Technology and Sciences (ANITS). The principal adds that understanding the application of theoretical knowledge in practice is essential for engineering students.
“A chemical engineer would learn about the function of refineries in the theory class. But how exactly the crude oil is refined to get the final outcome can be understood only by doing a project. The application of the chemical process, the temperature and the pressure required, the by products, the use of various valves and the measurements can be understood only through a project,” he adds. Former Vice - Chancellor of JNTU (Kakinada) Allam Appa Rao points out that the area of project work is what that separates the Indian colleges from the ones in the US. “In the US the system is 3+3 (3 theory + 3 practical), whereas in India it is 6 theory and 2 practical. We load our students with theory and neglect the practical or project work.
Even the teachers are tuned to complacency in regard to projects. It is through projects that one can engage his or her knowledge and creativity by dealing with real life problems,” says Prof. Appa Rao. The V-C adds that projects are not only essential, but the students should take up the challenge of accepting projects concerning new areas of technology or build upon futuristic ideas. Being a little harsh, the former Head of the Department of Computer Science Engineering in Andhra University College of Engineering P.S. Avadhani says, “if you do not take your project seriously, it will be very difficult to get a good job.” The professor advises the students to think and finalise the project idea by the second semester in the third year. “Always think of doing a project on the latest trends in technology. A computer science student can think of doing a project on .NET, Android based project or HTML based project.
Work on realistic application based projects - like how to automate the library or how to generate student ID cards. Students can also think of working on HTML 5. Computer science students can ponder upon system level projects also, as it is on demand by the industry at present,” says Prof. Avadhani. On how to generate interest among the students on projects, Prof. C.L.V.R.S.V. Prasad says that institutions and teachers should take it up seriously. “The students should be made to do the project within the college under the mentorship of a teacher.”