Three-fold vision

Published : Jul 17, 2009 00:00 IST

The main administrative block of Vignan University at Vadlamudi in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. .-PICTURES: T. VIJAYA KUMAR

The main administrative block of Vignan University at Vadlamudi in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh. .-PICTURES: T. VIJAYA KUMAR

THE sprawling Vignan University campus in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, speaks volumes of the vision of its Chancellor Dr. Lavu Rathiah and his unswerving commitment to excellence. One of the pioneering residential educational institutions in the State, Vignan was instrumental in ensuring a paradigm shift in the pattern and methodology of higher education. What began as a junior college in the 1980s is now a grand institution with branches all over Andhra Pradesh.

The Vignan Educational Group made its foray into the field of technical education in 1997 with the inauguration of Vignan Engineering College at Vadlamudi under the Lavu Educational Society. It is now ranked among the top five of the 400 colleges affiliated to the Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad. Recently, Vignan was conferred the deemed university status. Lavu Rathiah says the universitys three-fold vision is to build up core technical skills among students, develop them as technocrat managers and finally provide a window of opportunity for civil services aspirants.

Incorporating the best practices of corporate education and fulfilling its social obligation, the Vignan group has carved a niche for itself in primary, secondary and technical education. It has institutions that provide quality education from kindergarten to postgraduation 15 schools, nine junior colleges, one B.Ed college, four postgraduation centres, three pharmacy colleges, eight engineering colleges and, the biggest of them all, Vignan University. The group has branches in Guntur, Vijayawada, Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam, Rajahmundry, Eluru and Charla, covering all geographical areas in the State.

The university is located on the Guntur-Tenali highway at Vadlamudi (opposite Sangam Dairy), 10 km from Narakoduru. It has spacious, well-ventilated classrooms and ergonomically designed desks and chairs for students.

State-of-the art laboratories with the latest hardware and software tools and equipment are an asset to the institution. An aesthetically designed central library with more than 40,000 volumes, audio-visual material and 159 national and international journals offers a rich repository of knowledge. A digital library enables students to access multimedia learning materials or refer to journals online.

The university also boasts individual department libraries that stock books on various specialisations. Each library has around 500 books, project reports, syllabus books, model question papers and back issues of important journals supporting current research in the department. The students have access to the Internet and WiFi with 8 MBPS bandwidth.

The university has on-campus hostels for boys and girls with a boarding capacity of 600 each and a canteen to cater to the needs of the staff and day scholars. Among the notable achievements of the college is the double accreditation it received from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC A-grade) in recognition of its academic excellence and infrastructural facilities. The other honours include an Award of Excellence from the Chief Minister for achieving the highest placement record and the Governors medals for academic performance and for conducting the highest number of blood donation camps.

The universitys monthly and daily newsletters, VOICE and VEC Today, provide an opportunity for students to develop their writing skills. These have been brought out uninterruptedly for the past seven years. The university has also indigenously developed software for the automation of all systems on the campus.

The university offers full-time and regular co-op programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The credits-transfer arrangement with universities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada provides an extra dimension to the courses. Students can take up electives offered in interdisciplinary subjects humanities, social sciences and management from the fifth semester onwards, which enables them to prepare for diverse career options.

They have the facility to learn foreign languages by taking additional credits.

The undergraduate programmes available at Vignan are: Electronics & Communications Engineering; Electrical & Electronics Engineering; Computer Science & Engineering; Information Technology; Mechanical Engineering; Mechatronics; Chemical Engineering Environmental Engineering & Management; Biotechnology; Bioinformatics; and Civil Engineering. The university offers the following Masters programmes: Embedded Systems; Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI); Digital Electronics & Communication Systems; Communication & Signal Processing; Power Electronics & Drives; Computer Science & Engineering; Information Technology; Machine Design; Energy Engineering; Industrial Pollution Control Engineering; and Biotechnology & Bioprocess Engineering. Industry-sponsored courses are offered to practising professionals to upgrade their skills. The employees are paid for the time they spend on the campus and the industry makes use of the facilities in the university for training their employees.

The courses include five-year integrated programmes in technical and management streams. Special courses are offered for civil services aspirants.

A brainchild of Lavu Rathiah, this unique concept provides for a dynamic institution-industry partnership in which industries are provided facilities to set up on-campus centres of excellence, innovation centres and incubation centres. This provides an opportunity for students to partner with the industry in Research and Development and get trained in operating industry-specific tools and technologies.

A unique Practice School provides the students an opportunity to work with live projects and an exposure to industrial work environment. It also helps them in career planning. Vignan University has an enviable track record. The students have a trend of getting top ranks in the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). In 2007-08, its students were ranked 1st, 3rd, 5th, 9th, 17th, 34th and 93rd.

The high standards of academics and the thrust on personality development have enabled many students to secure jobs in top national and international research laboratories such as the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Indian Space Research Organisation, the Nuclear Fuel Complex, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency. Students of Vignan have also been excelling themselves in top IT companies such as Google, Yahoo, Intel IBM, Microsoft, TCS, Infosys, Wipro, DE Shaw and Suzuki.

There are facilities for all outdoor games such as cricket, football, volleyball, tennis, and basketball on the campus. There is also a 400-metre track for athletics. An indoor sports stadium has facilities for table tennis, badminton and chess. Intramural events keeps sportspersons prepared for state and national events.

The UCO bank operates a branch on the campus, which serves hostellers and residential staff. The university also has a dispensary with a full-time doctor and a nurse. A standby emergency vehicle is available for patients.

With a view to promoting creativity among students and honing their literary, cultural and technical skills, the university has established literary and cultural clubs. Student committees manage these clubs, which conduct a number of competitions and events on the campus.

As part of its social responsibility initiative, the university promotes computer literacy among schoolchildren and practising professionals, organises health awareness camps, adult literacy programmes, and train rural youth in skills that help them in self-employment. The university also develops technologies that are eco-friendly, user-friendly, agro-based and economical.

The university follows an evaluation system that tests the students core technical competency, critical thinking and problem-solving and communication skills. Continuous internal evaluation is done through assignments, term papers, quizzes, classroom seminars, group discussions and summer projects.

It conducts personality development programmes and facilitates development of software for in-house projects and live industrial applications. The university has a staff counsellor for every 20 students for psychological and academic support. A course monitoring committee takes periodic feedback from students.

Vignan University has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Edinburgh Napier University, U.K., and Fraser Valley University, Canada, for running joint programmes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Initially, Communication Engineering and Business Management programmes will be offered to students at the postgraduate level. After their first year of study at Vignan, students will pursue the second year at Edinburgh Napier University.

The management has set up seed money of Rs.50 lakh to promote research on the campus. R&D is now on in niche areas such as nano-composites, biomedical instrumentation and wireless technologies. The All India Council of Technical Education, the Central governments Department of Science and Technology and the University Grants Commission fund its research projects.

The universitys short-term goal is to win recognition as one of the top 20 institutions in the country and make at least 70 per cent of its students employable in multinational companies. It is marching ahead in pursuit of this goal.

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