The importance of Higher Technical Education for a developing country like India cannot be overemphasized. While graduates can handle a fairly large section of technical services, a very sizeable fraction of jobs requires personnel with advanced education.  The field of technical education is one area that comes to the mind immediately. Research and Development is another area where personnel with higher education are definitely required.

Apart from meeting manpower needs of the areas mentioned above, higher education also fulfils the demand for specialized training for individuals during different stages of their professional careers. Some go for higher education to develop expertise in allied areas – for example architects going for town planning. Others look for in-depth studies in their parent disciplines – e.g. an Electrical Engineering graduate seeks courses like Control Systems, Instrumentation, Electrical Machines, Power Electronics or Power Systems.

Last few decades have witnessed diminishing boundaries between disciplines that were like water  tight compartments earlier, leading to the growth of many multi-disciplinary programs. Areas like Control systems Engineering, Cyrogenic Engineering and Mechatronics are just some examples of courses belonging to this genre. The challenge of working in emerging areas draws a large number of candidates to such disciplines. The large-scale application of ideas from Management, Computer Systems and Information Technology has seen an unprecedented growth of a vast spectrum of postgraduate programs. This growth was accelerated by the spurt in market demand for trained manpower in these nascent disciplines.

Broad-based programs like Rural Development, Energy Systems Engineering, Ecology and Environment and Materials Science not only fulfil the need for yet another set of individuals, but also provide manpower in some very critical areas.

One could argue that many undergraduates, with some retraining, can perform the functions envisaged to be performed by the postgraduates trained through such courses – indeed many examples of significant contributions by graduates can be cited – but the importance of formal training for ensuring the growth of such areas has to be recognized. Training through a formal program ensures uniformity of standards and a minimal base level of exposure to the techniques of a particular field. This is more important for a developing country. In a developed country many industrial organizations have a vast store of intellectual property and can provide in-house training to bright young graduates molding them to meet their specific needs. This luxury is not available to most organizations in a developing country. Thus, if an organization in a developing country wishes to move into one of the newer areas, the best course would be to look for personnel with adequate background in that area. Therefore, these programs can fill that need for students from many countries-particularly from the developing world.

In the past when the economy was isolated, the local industry being insulated and protected from competition could carry on without any in-house R&D. in the initial phase of globalization some can continue to survive with doses of borrowed/purchased second hand know-how. It must be recognized that this situation is perilous particularly for the developing world, and must be abandoned at the earliest. Promotion of quality technical education, therefore, must be recognized as a top priority in order to streamline the indigenous creation of competitive systems and relevant technologies.

Prof. (Dr.) Amit Kr. Jain – JIMS Rohini

Prof. (Dr.) A.R Mishra – JIMS Rohini

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