A report by India Today showcased how the scenario in engineering colleges is changing for the good. The lead is taken by IIT Mandi which is changing the lives of young engineer students. Neha Kataria, a first-year Mechanical engineering student from Haryana is one such example.
“I am the first person in my entire family to have traveled outside my hometown, and the first girl from my village to get into an IIT,” said Neha to India Today.
Expressing her gratitude to her family, she confides that if it were not for them, her fate would have been similar to that of other girls in her village who are often not allowed to have ambitions and are likely to be married off after school.
“When I told my father that I dream of going to space, he advised me to aim for IIT, and that was the beginning of my journey,” reveals Neha.
How does the process start in IIT Mandi?
Neha is only one of the many students from small towns across the country who has chosen IIT Mandi to begin their life in engineering and are undergoing an intensive five-week induction programme (5WIP) on campus.
- From dramatics, dance, a cleaning drive in Mandi and trekking, to designing real-life solutions using Lego models and attending guest lectures by alumni and industry experts, the new batch of students is getting a unique opportunity for holistic personality development.
- This induction programme ensures that the students, coming from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, are exposed to activities that will allow them to shed their inhibitions and familiarise themselves with the campus, faculty, seniors and more importantly, with each other even before the classes commence.
How are they making a difference?
“We are a group of 196 friends,” quips a student alluding to the total number of students who have joined IIT Mandi this year.
“After coming here, in these few weeks I can see positive changes in my personality and have also taken a keen interest in sports that I had never played in life. The exposure here is far more profound than in the other IITs,” says Mohib Qureshi from Madhya Pradesh who proudly claims he never took a coaching class and took it as a challenge to get into an IIT.
Ankit Karan from Bihar, the first person from his village to have gotten into an IIT, believes the extracurricular activities being organized during the 5WIP are helping him imbibe discipline, yet a welcome change from having worked tirelessly focusing solely on academics while preparing for the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE).
An all-Inclusive and liberal environment
IIT Mandi has come to be known for its inclusive and liberal environment, driving sustained emphasis on academic excellence, practical application of technical knowledge, and imbibition of human values.
“IIT Mandi was the only institute that I felt confident of and would offer me a safe environment, away from politics where I could focus on my studies; apart from, of course, being climatically similar to my hometown Kupwara, Kashmir,” says Zaidan Mohammad Bhat, a first-year student in the Civil Engineering department.
Zaidan hails from a district rife with conflict due to which he missed almost one year of schooling during 12th grade.
Ways IIT Mandi is Transforming Engineering Education
1. The institute encourages students to contribute towards the socio-environmental landscape of the region through both academic as well as extra-curricular activities.
2. While the thrust on region-specific research has helped develop solutions to environmental issues, other initiatives have sought to empower local women through the creation of employment opportunities.
3. In addition, student volunteers have introduced several initiatives in association with local schools, helping the school children with their homework, catch up in mathematics and science curriculum, and engage in interactive lessons through demonstrations of science experiments.
4. “We also read to the school children and share books with them to help them develop an interest in reading,” says Yashika Arora, a PhD student at IIT Mandi.
5. Another initiative is the Bridge School, through which student volunteers teach basic lessons to the children of the migrant labour working in construction on campus, such that they can continue from where they left off wherever they go next.
The Student’s Support System
Several students also reveal that they feel motivated by the existence of the institute’s Technology Business Incubator Catalyst that is open to offering multilateral support to outstanding startup ideas from them. Through this incubator, IIT Mandi recognizes the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation and seeks to offer mentorship and guidance to entrepreneurial ideas that are driven by the objective of creating socio-economic impacts.
The absence of anxiety in students
Anyone visiting the serene campus is likely to be overcome with a sense of calm, perhaps also a result of the complete absence of any sign of anxiety exuded by the young fresh-out-of-school students.
It is not an easy feat for an adolescent to call a new place their home, a place that is so far away from the chaos of the city, from all things ‘happening’. Yet, the students in the new batch appear as if they have lived here for years and their new batchmates were their childhood friends.
“The spirit of camaraderie is much higher than any feeling of competition amongst us,” is a sentiment shared by every student at the institute.
Source: India Today