Archive for June, 2008

Free Online Full-text Articles from HighWire Press

June 19, 2008 Leave a comment


HighWire Press is the largest archive of free full-text science on Earth.  As of 16/6/08,   assist in the online publication of 1,889,014 free full-text articles and 4,777,674 total articles. There are 12 sites with free trial periods, and 42 completely free sites. 249 sites have free back issues, and 1067 sites have pay per view!

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Drinking Water Engineering and Science (DWES): An Interactive Open Access Journal

June 17, 2008 Leave a comment

Drinking Water Engineering and Science is a scientific open access journal for the publication of original research in drinking water treatment. The focus is on fundamental and applied research in water sources, substances, drinking water treatment processes, distribution systems and residual management.

It is an Open Access – Public Peer-Review & Interactive Public Discussion Personalized Copyright under a Creative Commons License. The Editor in Chief are Gary Amy & Hans van Di jk.

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Categories: Information Resources

Engineers: Quantity over quality?

June 17, 2008 Leave a comment

This year, a record 7 lakh students sat for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination, competing for over 9,000 seats in engineering colleges across the country. Last year the number was 5.8 lakh, while the year before it was 3.6 lakh. The great rush for engineering continues but for how long and at what cost?

There are over 1,400 engineering colleges in the country offering more than 5 lakh seats, of which, over 85% are private colleges. And, such is the demand that parents are willing to pay lakhs to get admission into the so-called open seats. However, the number of students successfully passing out from these colleges declined from about 70% in 2002 to 57% in 2005.

A few other facts indicate the chaotic situation prevailing in this sector. Despite the mad rush, several thousand seats go vacant in engineering colleges. Thus, in 2006, over 47,000 seats were left vacant in 7 states. Also, every year, thousands of seats are de-recognised by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the top regulatory body for non-IIT engineering education.

Declining pass-out rates and periodic de-recognition are a direct result of the unregulated growth of colleges. At the top of the heap are the 9 IITs. Then come the 19 National Institutes of Technology, formerly known as the Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs). These top two layers are government run. Then we have the rest of the colleges, mostly private.

According to Indian National Academy of Engineering (INAE), a top professional body, the mushrooming of private colleges without any regulation in quality has led to a deterioration of standards and skill levels. In most colleges, fresh BTech graduates are working as lecturers. AICTE estimates that there are only 7,000 PhDs and 20,000 MTechs working as teachers, while BTechs number nearly 1 lakh.

Vacancies in college seats are a result of a combination of factors. Colleges with a not-so-good faculty and infrastructure are not preferred. Courses like IT are preferred more over, say, agricultural engineering. In addition, seats reserved for SC/ST often go vacant. Derecognition occurs because colleges initially meet the minimum conditions required for getting AICTE approval but later fall back.

These conditions include faculty strength, qualification, infrastructure, among others. Actually, AICTE only provides the minimum standard for approval. The real test is accreditation by the National Board of Accreditation (NBA), which looks at quality of education too. Only about 8% of the engineering colleges are accredited by the NBA.

Over 60% of the engineering colleges are located in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. Since most industries are located in these states, absorption rates are better.

There may be a similar concentration within a state, for instance, most of the 236 UP engineering colleges are located in the industrial districts of Ghaziabad and Noida. According to Arun Arya, a second year student in Ghaziabad, “I have come from Lucknow to study here because placement possibilities are better.”

However, employment may not at all be commensurate with qualification — several engineers can be found doing data entry jobs or working in call centres. This is because there is a wide mismatch between jobs requiring engineering skills and the numbers being churned out.

In fact, top policy makers are worried that post graduate studies in engineering are abysmally low. Only about 5% of the engineering graduates continue to complete MTech — and, of these only 3% go on to do a doctorate. And, it is not as if the situation is any different in emerging disciplines. Only 4500 of the 1.8 lakh computer engineering BTechs went on to do MTech. This not only causes a severe shortage of qualified faculty, it also blunts the edge in research and innovation.

So, what should be done? INAE prescribes an overhaul of the administration and management structure of technical institutions, boosting faculty strengths, rationalising admission policy and increased interaction with industry. Without these, and a strict watch on quality of education, India could well end up with too many engineers out in the cold.

Source:Times of India 26 May 2007

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