Technical excellence

Published : Dec 20, 2002 00:00 IST

Imparting quality technical education is the mission of the Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology, which is rated as one of the best in Karnataka.

WITH a number of innovations to its credit, the Bapuji Institute of Engineering and Technology (BIET) stands out both among the institutes run by the Bapuji Educational Association (BEA) and among the 110 engineering colleges in Karnataka. Recently, it was voted as one of the top 10 institutes in Karnataka. It is affiliated to the Visveswaraiah Technological University (VTU), Belgaum.

Established in 1979 on a 50-acre campus at Davengere, the BIET has the provision of quality technical education to students from the rural and socio-economically backward communities as its goal.

The institute started with five branches at the undergraduate level and an intake of 192 students. Today, it conducts undergraduate studies in 12 branches (24 branches are available under the VTU) and has a student intake of 660. In the academic year 2002-03, the institute started undergraduate courses in Biotechnology and Bio-Medicine.

Postgraduate programmes such as M.Tech are offered in disciplines such as Textile Engineering, Machine Design, Computer Science, Business Management and Computer Application (52 courses at the postgraduate level are available under the VTU). There are adequate facilities at the institute for research programmes that lead to the Ph.D degree in subjects such as Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Production, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry and Textile Technology.

The BIET is one of the 10 engineering colleges in Karnataka to be accorded accreditation by the National Board of Accreditation for its Mechanical Engineering, Industrial Production Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Textile Technology, Electronics and Communication Engineering and Civil Engineering branches for a period of three years from April 2001. In addition the Computer Science and Engineering and Instrumentation Technology courses have been accredited by the Institute of Engineers, Kolkata.

The institute has excellent infrastructure with well-equipped, independent, departmental and laboratory blocks, a large (seating capacity of 600) and fully stocked library (30,758 books and 166 journals), in-house medical facilities and a captive power plant, which cost more than Rs.20 crores. So far, the Institute has produced over 6,500 engineers in various disciplines and has bagged 264 ranks in Mysore and Kuvempu universities since 1984. The cumulative average result of the institute since its inception is 76 per cent.

Prof. Y. Vrushabhendrappa, Principal, BIET, said: "Since many of our students come from a rural background and are generally from a socio-economically poor milieu, we have to put in twice as much effort as compared to the faculty in a big city college to get the near-100 per cent result that we now consistently get." The BIET has 2,473 students, of whom 25 per cent are girls. Vrushabhendrappa has served as the Principal of the college for nearly 14 years, the longest period served by the principal of any engineering college in Karnataka. In 2001, he won the coveted Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan National Award for the best engineering college principal.

The BIET's initiatives include the establishment of `continuing education' and product development cells, training of artisans and the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the information technology major IBM to train students for additional skills on hardware and software. The institute has been chosen by the VTU as one of the 12 centres in Karnataka to impart distance education.

The BIET has been adjudged the lead college by the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST) at their annual jamboree on at least four occasions. Vrushabhendrappa said: "Over the past 20 years, the KSCST has sanctioned 309 of our student projects, of which 100 secured prizes. We have been chosen as No. 1 for excellence both in terms of the number of projects selected for the exhibitions and in terms of participation in seminars."

According to Vrushabhendrappa, in the past two academic years, though there were no takers for as many as 6,000 engineering seats in Karnataka, the BIET managed to fill almost all the seats. "In this academic year we have filled up 75 of our 90 management seats," Vrushabhendrappa said.

One of the outstanding departments at the BIET is the Department of Textiles. Established in 1982, it offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Textile Technology. It offers a Diploma in Textiles and a vocational Textile Technician course. The department is actively involved in research and consultancy projects with the financial/technical assistance from the All India Council for Technical Education, the Department of Science and Technology, the Tata Energy Research Institute, VSIL Designs, the Karnataka Power Loom Development Corporation, Sun Micro Computers and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). So far, the BIET has received around Rs.4 crores by way of grants.

The collaborative sericulture development programme between the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, and SDC, called the Seri 2000 programme, which is being implemented in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, aims at enhancing the sustainability of Indian sericulture by improving quality and productivity. The BIET, which took part in the programme, made a breakthrough in the commercial production of silk-knitted fabrics and garments using Indian mulberry silk.

This technology augurs well for the industry as it provides access to a niche segment in both domestic and export markets. More importantly, the fabric is developed using Indian mulberry silk, whereas the bulk of current Indian silk exports depends on imported yarn. The BIET has produced more than 40 varieties of silk-knitted fabric structures that can be used to produce inner as well as outer garments. In order to market and manufacture the silk-knitted fabric, the BIET has signed an agreement with Stallion Garments, Tirupur.

Another spin-off of the Seri 2000 programme has been the BIET's `Bapuji Seri 2000 Hank Dyeing Machine'. Dr. H.L. Vijaya Kumar, Head of the Textiles Department, said: "At present, the technology of dyeing silk yarn is not colour guaranteed. To solve this we developed our hank dyeing machine. The semi-automatic machine, which works on the counter-current principle of dyeing, has a number of advantages needs no skilled personnel to operate it, requires low maintenance as compared to imported machines, has a highly efficient spray system and a solenoid (temperature can therefore be controlled), and most importantly, ensures uniform and better colour fastness. The two-kilogram machine costs Rs.1 lakh while the five-kilogram one costs Rs.1.25 lakhs."

The Textile Department has also developed a technology wherein silk waste is used to manufacture thread, which can be used as yarn for furnishings, carpets or apparels. It has also developed technology for weaving silk waste into cotton cloth (again for furnishings), a computer-based machine that measures the `hand' (sheer, thickness, compressibility, tensile strength and bending properties) of a fabric and costs a fraction of its Japanese equivalent; and proposed a project for the development of silk and modal (an alternative to viscose) for apparels.

Other departments have not remained idle. The Mechanical Department has used dry maize stems and areca fibres to make laminated blockboards, developed a technique that can be used to cut glass (up to 20 mm thick) using hot air, and designed a pedal-operated silk-reeling machine.

Over the past four years, the institute has spent over Rs.50 lakhs on its Environment Study Centre. Said Vrushabhendrappa: "One of the projects that this centre took up (it was sponsored by the Government of Karnataka) was to examine the potability of borewell water in the districts of Davangere, Dakshina Kannada, Haveri and Udipi. We tested the water in over 15,000 wells. The study showed that 70 per cent of the water was not potable fluorides, nitrates even lead and chlorides were present beyond permissible limits."

Over the past five years, the centre has also been monitoring the Tungabhadra river for air, water and pollutants.

According to Kassal S. Vittal, Chairman, BIET, "most projects start off as student projects but get enlarged as staff/commercial projects once they are successful. Most projects are also the culmination of the efforts of more than one department." Vittal said further: "While many of our projects are import substitutes, our facilities are regularly used by industrialists from Karnataka and from the neighbouring States as well."

The Bapuji Polytechnic is another initiative of the BEA in technical education. Started in 1984, the institute has an intake of 260. According to Principal K.S. Veeresh, most of the 470 students (30 per cent are girls) hail from a rural, non-English-speaking background. The institute offers full-time three-year courses in Civil, Mechanical, Electronics and Communication, Computer Science, Electronics and Electrical Engineering and Textile Technology.

Given its record results have hovered around the 70 per cent mark as compared to the state average of 40 the polytechnic's facilities have been chosen by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to train people.

Besides MCA and BCA courses, the BEA is planning a BTech course in fashion technology from next year.

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