Race to the top

Published : Aug 10, 2007 00:00 IST

D. Viswanathan, Vice-Chancellor of Anna University.-K.V. SRINIVASAN

D. Viswanathan, Vice-Chancellor of Anna University.-K.V. SRINIVASAN

Quality teaching and infrastructure and a clear vision make Anna University No. 1 among Indias technical universities, after the IITs and the NITs.

ANNA University Vice-Chancellor Dr. D. Viswanathan has ambitious plans for the university, which is set to embark on an expansion of its infrastructural facilities in the next two years to make it one of the top 100 universities in the world. We are now number one among the technical universities in India and we should be one among the 100 in the world, he said. Anna University is ranked number only next to the Indian Institutes of Technology and the National Institutes of Technology among the technical universities in India. To reach that goal [to be among the top 100 universities in the world], we have started working on providing infrastructure facilities, using high-technology methodologies for teaching and empowering our teachers. We encourage our teachers to go abroad and get trained.

In an interview to Frontline, he unveiled Anna Universitys plans for information and communication technology parks, knowledge data centres, updated syllabi, faculty development programmes and tie-ups with industries. ;If we can educate, mould and direct our youth in the right direction, Indias growth will be substantial in the following years. Our aim is to give excellent opportunities to students and share authentic knowledge with them, he said.

Anna University has 255 colleges in its fold, including four constituent, six government-run and three aided engineering colleges; the rest are self-financed engineering colleges. These colleges are situated all over Tamil Nadu. The four constituent colleges are in Chennai: the College of Engineering, the Alagappa Chettiar College of Technology, the School of Architecture (all at Guindy), and the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), Chromepet.

For the academic year 2007-08, about 1,06,000 students will be admitted to various engineering colleges in the university; 65,500 seats are of the governments quota, while the remaining will be filled by the managements of self-financing colleges.

The university does everything to ensure quality teaching. Teachers belonging to all its colleges periodically undergo a two-year refreshment course. We prepare the content for the two-week course, educate the teachers, update their knowledge and guide them on how to deliver the content to students. This goes a long way in faculty development, Viswanathan said.

Special lectures are telecast via EDUSAT to many of the colleges affiliated to the university. Experienced faculty members conduct classes in subjects considered tough. The university is working on a project of to prepare lectures on video so that students can watch these video-lectures in the classroom, at libraries or at home.

Anna University has representatives from industry on its Board of Studies. The Board of Studies meets every six months and its members analyse the situation and go into the requirements of industry. The Vice-Chancellor said: The curriculum is changed every four years. But introduction of electives and modification of the syllabus is possible every year.

Anna University has initiated steps to establish an information and communication technology park, which will be dedicated to research jointly by Anna University and information technology and electronics industries. Another park will be established to conduct research in mechanical, electrical, civil and chemical engineering. Along with these two research parks, we plan to establish technology venture incubators and business venture incubators so that our faculty and industry-experienced faculty, called adjunct faculty, can collaborate and do research, said Viswanathan.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed with Flextronics. The multinational company, which manufactures electronic components, has agreed to provide Rs.5 crore to the university for research in electronics.

The Government of Tamil Nadu, Sun Micro Systems and Anna University have joined hands to establish a knowledge data centre at a cost of Rs.21 crore. This centre will facilitate maintaining a knowledge bank on the subjects taught in the university, syllabi, explanatory notes on lessons, and so on. Students can access the bank from anywhere with the help of the Internet.

Anna University has plans to make the campuses of its four constituent colleges in Chennai WiFi zones. We are going to make the entire campus WiFi. We are going to give a laptop to every student and we are working on that scheme now, said the Vice-Chancellor. (According to Anna University officials, laptops can be provided to students of affiliated colleges gradually if the college managements so desire.) Anna University has signed an MoU with Microsoft to provide educational software to the universitys four lakh students. Viswanathan said Sun Micro Systems, Hewlett Packard and IBM were also keen to help the university with information technology.

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