Prof. Saikat Maitra
FROM THE DESK OF VICE-CHANCELLOR
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology (MAKAUT), West Bengal is the nodal University which provides affiliation to more than 200 Colleges spread throughout the state offering courses in Engineering & Technology, Pharmacy, Architecture, Management, Applied Sciences and various professional courses. The University is recognized under Section 2(F) and 12(B) of the UGC Act. The courses offered by the University are approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and UGC. The University, which started functioning from the State Archive Building at Shakespeare Sarani and later migrated to its Salt Lake campus at BF 142, Sector I, Salt Lake, Kolkata – 700064, is now carrying out its academic and administrative activities from its sprawling new academic campus of 40 acres located at Haringhata, Nadia. This main campus was inaugurated by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal in 2018 in the august presence of the Hon’ble Minister-In-Charge, Department of Higher Education, Govt. of West Bengal. The University records its sincere gratitude to the Govt. of West Bengal for providing whole-hearted support in constructing this new campus and thereby fulfilling the cherished dreams of lakhs of stakeholders in having a lush green campus of their own.
The University, which was initially named West Bengal University of Technology, had its name changed to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, West Bengal on April 6, 2015 by dint of “The West Bengal University of Technology (Amendment) Act, 2015 passed in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly and the subsequent Government of West Bengal, Law Department Gazette Notification No. 487L – 6th April, 2015.
The University has a twin character, viz. (a) as an affiliating University to provide and renew affiliation to more than 200 Colleges after duly carrying out the process of inspection to satisfy themselves about the presence and quality of the infrastructural and human resources, to get the students in all the affiliated Colleges as well as the In-House courses registered, conduct the examination process, keep tab on the teaching-learning process and help enhance employability of the students; (b) to conduct In-House courses, particularly in different cutting edge areas of Engineering, Technology, Management and Applied Sciences, run funded projects leading to publications and patents, offer consultancy activities etc.
True to its character as a Technological University, MAKAUT,WB has started the practice of digital inspection of the affiliated Colleges, to ensure transparency, reduce costs and increase the speed of execution of the process. This initiative has been highly lauded by AICTE.
In every semester, close to 1,40,000 students appear in the examinations held all across the state, around six and half lakhs answer scripts are evaluated in a centralized manner and the results are published in around forty days. It may be mentioned that there are around ten thousand teachers in the MAKAUT, WB system comprising around 200 affiliated Colleges. Most of these answer scripts are evaluated digitally by the teachers after being scanned. The University has embarked upon an ambitious programme to improve the teaching learning process of the students of the MAKAUT family, enhance their employability prospects, and provide a viable linkage with industry and society at large. The University is working in close cohesion with the affiliated Colleges to achieve these objectives.
The University is putting great emphasis on digital pedagogy through adoption of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) in the curricula, design of bouquet of such courses, allowing credit transfer using MOOCs, adoption of learning management systems through software and mobile applications. We are stressing on a learner-centric model where students master the concepts through a series of workshops and problem-solving approaches. A number of such workshops have been organized in the main academic campus at Haringhata to achieve this objective. Contemporary methods such as flipped learning, blended learning and similar approaches are being actively practised and patronized by us.
The University has adopted the Mandatory Additional Requirements (MAR) to be completed by the students while earning their degrees in order to ensure holistic development of the students. Under this programme, the students earn Activity Points for their involvement in extra-curricular activities, social development, undertaking online courses and engaging themselves in entrepreneurial activities. We are the first University in the State to make co-curricular activities mandatory in our programme through introduction of Mandatory Additional Requirements. The academic, physical and psychological well-being of the students are being monitored regularly through an active mentoring process with every College having a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) for such activity.
The University has introduced the process of continuous evaluation to monitor academic progress of the students and initiate course correction, as and when necessary. The University is maintaining close linkage with industry to assess the industry needs and preparing the students accordingly for their career development. In other words, the University is following the Education 4.0 model which is the need of the hour. The University has signed a number of Memorandum of Understanding with industry bodies, organizations and other academic institutions for this purpose. Several certificate and diploma programmes are being initiated in collaboration with industry partners.
The University has started a plethora of professional courses such as those in Hotel Management, Hospitality Management, Hospital Management, Media Science, Risk Management, Real Estate Management, Data Science, Analytics, Forensic Science, Digital Marketing etc. as well as vocational and skill development courses in a large number of disciplines to cater to the needs of the industry and society as well as provide employment opportunities to the students. Today the job market demands expertise in cutting edge technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, Data Science, Analytics, Blockchain, Drone Technology, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality and the like. MAKAUT is of the view that these need to be integrated throughout the curricula and across different domains of knowledge.
The curricula of the University are updated regularly in tune with the industry requirements. The University is conducting several certificate and Post-Graduate Diploma courses in association with the industry partners. The University is trying hard to use its vast pool of researchers, faculty members and students to address issues faced by industry and resolve societal problems. We have already identified several thrust areas of research in Information Technology, Biotechnology, Material Science, Food Technology, Energy Sciences, Media Science etc. which are of industrial and societal relevance. Researchers are being encouraged to pursue research in these areas.
The University is also encourages the faculty members to get involved in patents and IPR-related drives. Through its Technology Business Incubation Centre Ekta, the University is trying to imbibe spirit of start-up and entrepreneurship among the students. The University is partnering with TIFAC to develop certain clusters in different areas of West Bengal.
The faculty members of the University are into active research and the University boasts of many research projects funded by DST, DBT, MHRD, CSIR, UGC as well as certain consultancy activities. The faculty members are being encouraged to align their research activities as per needs of the industry and the society.
One of the most notable achievements of the University is the launching of the Centralized Placement Portal, the first of its kind in the country, which will provide a platform to the employers to get in touch with the prospective employees, viz., the students in the MAKAUT family. The University plans to extend this facility subsequently to students of other Universities of the state.
In order to expand its activities, the University would need more human resources. The University has filled up all the vacancies in the officer positions as well as a large number of vacant faculty positions. The University has engaged a number of distinguished academicians and professionals as Adjunct/Visiting Professors as well as a number of bright young teachers to help run the different courses being offered by the University. All of them are actively involved in designing the course curricula, setting up the labs and planning for the different courses on offer. In this context, mention may be made of the newly developed state of the art Robotics Lab. Several Robotics Workshops are also arranged by the University.
The University has received a grant of Rs 20 crores on account of Rashtriya Uchatara Shiksha Abhiyaan (RUSA) and is in the process of building new infrastructure using this fund. The University is also close to being awarded one Centre of Excellence in Cyber Security by the Department of Information Technology & Electronics, Govt. of West Bengal.
The University is trying to acquire additional sixty acres of land adjacent to its Haringhata campus for the construction of a Sports Complex, Centre for Skill Development and Training in Emerging Areas, Media Research and Facility Centre and Food & Biotechnology Research Centre. We strongly believe that introduction of these new facilities will attract a huge number of students from all over India and abroad to this campus. The objective is to make this campus truly international in character and world class in stature as well as generate employment for the students as well as the local population.
MAKAUT, WB is trying to reach out the youth from the very finishing point of their school level to guide them about their future career prospects through its School Connect Programme. The aim is to bridge the information gap that comes in the way of their choice of appropriate profession in future. The University has spread its wings and has gone on to introduce new and vibrant courses in-house and also under its affiliated colleges, which are being publicized among the students at the 11-12 level. The focus is to create awareness about these courses among the school students, before they step into the job market.
I am happy to announce that the University has already been approached by Bankura Unnayani Institute of Engineering Trust, the trustee body running one of the affiliated Colleges for handover of 10 acres of leasehold land for construction of a University campus in Bankura. This area is flanked by the Jangal Mahal area on one side and the Durgapur-Asansol area on the other. The University envisages an active role in adding value to both these regions through its academic and technological initiatives. The proposed Centre in Bankura will be used for training of youths and entrepreneurs, introduction of rural management, and other activities like setting up of Centre for Media Science, Rural craft hubs for dokra and terra cotta technology facilitation centre, Development of Heritage Tourism and Heritage preservation etc. All these will lead to employment generation and economic improvement of the region. The University plans to set up an Aviation Training Academy in that Centre which will be useful for people living in the Durgapur-Asansol region. The University also plans to use a slew of professional programmes to aid students in these two areas.
I may add further that the University was granted seven acres of land in the Darjeeling area and the district authorities asked to identify this piece of land. The University plans to introduce courses on travel and tourism, hospitality management, hotel management, horticulture and other short term courses to enhance the employability of the people living in the hilly areas of West Bengal. Thus the University plans to leverage the immense biodiversity of the region and its expertise in biotechnology to set up an advanced research centre on this campus.
The Academic Session 2019-20 has been remarkable for more than one reason. The University started further expanding and consolidating its In-House academic activities, introducing new programs of study, setting up new laboratories, running faculty development and management development programmes, engaging in consultancy activities, organizing the regional Science Congress and similar events, undertaking an extensive revision of curricula etc.
In the second half of this academic year, as the pandemic and the resultant lockdown followed by the storm Amphan ravaged our lives, the University and its affiliated colleges began a huge exercise of starting online teaching-learning process, organized probably the largest number of webinars in the country in varied fields, and embarked on social entrepreneurship and outreach activities.
When the pandemic induced lockdown led to suspension of physical classes in the campus, the University immediately switched to organizing online classes for its students, both In-House and the affiliated Colleges. The University maintained a close network with its affiliated Colleges during this endeavour and the entire exercise was undertaken in a seamless manner. The internal assessments and assignments were also received and evaluated online. It is a feather in our cap that we were the first University in the state to publish the results of the final semester students in this academic session. This University is also the pioneer in introducing digital assessment of its students during end semester examinations. The University had already embarked on a massive exercise to give exposure to the students to the wealth of online courses available on the digital platforms. This was adequately leveraged, during the lockdown period, by both students and teachers of the University ecosystem, through introduction of free courses on the Coursera platform.
We believe that the most important task of an academic institution is to create an enabling academic environment for the students and mentor them with a personal touch so that students can enjoy their teaching learning process. Teaching should never be a one-way process; rather students and teachers should be co-learners in a stimulating academic milieu. MAKAUT,WB has introduced Continuous Evaluation of the students in its assessment with this idea. Besides, this is going to prepare students as conscious, complete citizens with a holistic view of the world. The process of mentoring the students has been introduced in all the affiliated Colleges of the University as well as for In-House courses.
The University set up a dedicated Webinar committee and organized a large number of webinars on areas of topical interest with distinguished experts, professionals, entrepreneurs and in-house faculty members as panellists during the lockdown period. These webinars covered technical and managerial topics, cutting edge research areas, interactions with students and their guardians, healthcare issues etc. The University plans to publish a compendium of these webinars in the digital mode to augment its digital teaching learning repository.
While one part of the challenge in organizing these virtual meets, particularly in respect of the students, was to try and maintain the teaching learning process to the extent possible (by employing online classes and other digital modes of instruction), the other was to keep the morale of the student community high and engage them in meaningful and productive activities. The University is continuing these academic activities.
Further, the University has started preparing learning resources for the forthcoming academic session. These teaching notes will be made available to the students in either digital or printed formats. While embracing digital pedagogy, we believe in trying to minimize the digital divide. Given that MAKAUT is situated in a semi-urban / rural setting, we have a particular responsibility in this regard.The
University has remained steadfast in its commitment to serve the rural populace and other stakeholders during the lockdown. The University manufactured sanitizers and masks using the University infrastructure and distributed these items to different stakeholders of the organization. The University also came to the aid of the local populace, particularly the underprivileged people during the lockdown period. It also participated in relief activities after the fury of Amphan lashed the state.
The University set up seven different Schools of Study and a large number of Departments under these Schools. The Schools are those of Engineering Sciences, Computational Sciences, Natural, Applied and Social Sciences, Biological Sciences, Management Sciences, Energy and Environmental Sciences, Food, Pharmaceutical and Medical Science & Technology.
The University has set up an Entrepreneurship Cell and invited Expressions of Interest from entrepreneurs / industrialists to start their activities in the Haringhata campus. Ekta, the Technology Business Incubation Centre of the University is also fully functional now. One principal objective of the Social Entrepreneurship Cell is to boost local home-bred entrepreneurial and start-up ventures which may help students, professionals and other members of the local population. The University is striving to secure more such projects, funded by Government or other agencies, to firm up its drive in the domain of social entrepreneurship.
To summarize, we are actively engaged in becoming the enabler of an academic ecosystem where modern teaching learning pedagogy is practised, cutting edge technologies are promoted and all kinds of digital tools are adopted. We fervently hope to contribute to the growth and development of West Bengal at large and thereby justify our status as the premier technological University of the state. We solicit kind cooperation from and active participation of all the stakeholders to fulfil our noble mission. West Bengal has traditionally been an epicentre of excellence in academic and intellectual pursuits. However, it is imperative in today’s market driven economy to make this education application oriented so that it can lead to creation of wealth and benefit not only the apparent and immediate stakeholders but society at large. As the largest Technological University of the state, MAKAUT is committed to undertake this task, in both letter and spirit. It is our cherished dream to actively contribute to the growth and development of West Bengal at large and thereby justify our status as the premier technological University of the state.
On behalf of MAKAUT, I exhort all of you to join us in this journey towards a glorious future.