‘High-tech semiconductor courses to be launched in 600 colleges’

Core engineering students are allowed to do minor degree courses in artificial intelligence, data science, robotics, cyber security, blockchain, logistics, nanotech & semiconductor segments

semiconductor courses

In keeping with market evolution in semiconductor sector, over 600 engineering colleges and technical institutions are contemplating launching high-tech courses on semiconductor technology. The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE), the apex advisory body to ensure availability of facilities and to create conducive atmosphere for growth of technical education, has revoked the moratorium on opening of new tech institution to catch up with the advance countries for research, development and manufacturing of world-class class chips in India. AICTE chairman TG Sitharam, also a former IIT-Guwahati, director, said in an interview. Here are excerpts:

Khabar Infra: Semiconductor is the latest buzzword across the globe. What are the AICTE’s plan to cash in on the opportunities in chip manufacturing sector?

TG Sitharaman: We are working on new-generation courses on cutting-edge technologies such as semiconductors. We are working on it, and soon there will be more than 16,000 seats available for undergraduate, postgraduate and diploma-level courses on semiconductor technology. There are around 600 technical institutions, which will provide courses on semiconductors.

AICTE had put a moratorium on opening of new engineering colleges till 2024. What is the current status?

There was a ban on the opening of new engineering colleges across India till 2024 but we have reviewed our decision and now, we have revoked the moratorium. It means new engineering colleges can be established anywhere in the country by following the rules and regulations set by the AICTE. Even permissions for the opening of 250 new engineering colleges and technical institutions have been granted recently after the moratorium was revoked by the AICTE.

Higher educational institutions (HEIs) are grappling with the issues of drop out and even some suicides Have you taken any initiative to address these student-related problems?

We are coming up with a ‘Mentor-Mentee Programme’. Under this programme, there will be a mentor for students in every institution so that interaction beyond academics can be promoted. To deal with their issues and stress, these mentors will discuss with students their personal issues, family issues, issues related to the institution and personal well-being. We have a policy ready on this and it will be approved in the next council meeting.

How is AICTE planning to bring in transparency in the grant of approval of new technical institutions?

We have simplified the approval process for institutions. Under this initiative, we have started conducting inspections of technical institutions through online mode. Over 9,000 institutions have undergone this approval process and all eligible institutions are getting hassle-free approvals.

It is said that many seats in the core engineering courses of various institutions lie vacant? Is there any attempt to make core courses compatible with new age tech courses?

It is not like that. Students are showing their interest in core engineering courses. Our data says that there is a 10% increase in students taking admission to core engineering courses after the Covid-19 pandemic. Core engineering students are allowed to do minor degree courses in artificial intelligence, data science, robotics, cyber security, blockchain, logistics, nanotechnology, semiconductor and all emerging areas. This will not only make our students job-ready but it will also empower them to become job creators.

Do the engineering colleges have a sufficient number of trained faculties to teach core tech courses?

The availability of trained teachers is a big issue at core engineering colleges. The AICTE took the initiative to train teachers through short-term certification programmes.

What steps are you taking to promote innovation and increase the filing of new patents?

We have decided to close our regional centres and convert them into 12 ‘Indovation’ centres (India’s Innovation), to promote ideation, innovation etc. These will be first-of-its-kind centres in India. Their mandate is to promote technology transfer, handhold innovation and ideation. We are also supporting patent filing. Due to our efforts, the patent filing fee has come down from ₹28,000 to ₹1,500. With AICTE efforts, we have approx 8,000-plus patents. Now, we are working on a policy of free patent filing. We also have a ‘YUKTI’ repository, to transfer technologies and avoid duplication and to collate technologies. As many as 7,500 innovation councils have been established in universities and colleges across the country. In two-three years, we are targeting to have an innovation cell in every institution and college.

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