Engineering college students and faculty members across the State are busy digging up reports and surveys on learning outcomes of primary school children and reading up on rejuvenation of lakes. The students are doing this not because it is part of the syllabus, but they will have to soon devise, implement, and report on social outreach programmes like these as Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) is all set to link research grants to engineering colleges to these outreach programmes.
VTU has allocated ₹8 crore to fund research projects of engineering students, which will now be linked to social outreach programmes taken up by colleges.
Colleges will have to devise a plan and implement this shortly as the colleges that make an impact in these development works will in turn get an edge to obtain research grants from the university. VTU said modernisation of government schools, rejuvenation of lakes, and village development programmes were some of the projects that can be taken up. Colleges would soon be given a detailed set of guidelines after the modalities are worked out, said VTU officials.
But why link research and social outreach programmes? To keep them rooted to people’s problems. Speaking to The Hindu, H.N. Jagannatha Reddy, Registrar, VTU said that the university had decided to start this venture to ensure that the students are in touch with the communities at the grassroot level and understand the challenges. “We want the budding engineers to innovate and make products that would help society,” he said.
Calling it a “good move”, K.S. Badrinarayan, principal, M.S. Engineering College, said such social outreach programmes will also expose students to the issues in society and give them challenges to address which they will be motivated to innovate. He said that the students of their college were already conducting regular computer classes to students in a government school in Bovipalya. In another programme, he said, students designed an effective mechanism for waste management in a village as part of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.