Coimbatore: This college began with a story.Industrialist P.S. Govindaswamy Naidu had four sons, but while bequeathing his wealth to the next generation, he divided it into five parts instead of four. The fifth part, he said, was for “this brother”, a reference to the trust that manages PSG College of Technology—so goes the college legend.
The founder principal also was prescient in the choice of location for the college, something that has helped contribute to its success to this day. PSG College of Technology, set up in 1951 by PSG and Sons’ Charities Trust, is on the same campus in Coimbatore as PSG Industrial Institute, which makes pumps and motors.
“The industrial institute is a big strength in our college,” says R. Rajkumar, 20, a student who will graduate next year in mechanical engineering.
“It is a rare combination anywhere in India where an engineering college and a company coexist in the same campus. The company is manufacturing pumps, motors and machine tools. The students can walk over any time and see the manufacturing processes,” says the current principal of the college, R. Rudramoorthy.
The presence of the manufacturing facility on the campus enables the college to offer what are called sandwich courses, combining classes in theory with hands-on training.
The five-year bachelor of engineering programmes are offered in mechanical, electrical and electronics, and production engineering. In these courses, students get trained in the factory for a few hours and attend class during the second half of the day.
“I came to the college for the sandwich course because no other college offers a course along with industrial training. This gives more scope for getting a better job,” says Afrose Kamal, 22, who will graduate next year in electrical and electronics engineering.
Kamal has converted a conventional Luna moped into an electric bike, without the use of an engine, by connecting the wheels to a motor using a belt. He says a senior training manager at the industrial unit helped the team of students who did this.
The college also has relationships with various manufacturers that enable two-way learning between the college and the companies in terms of training and know-how.
Partners in progress: The college operates as a public-private partnership, with a charitable trust funding the infrastructure, while the government pays the faculty and staff salaries. Babu Ponnapan / Mint
“We have people from industries coming and setting up the laboratories,” says P.V. Mohanram, head of the mechanical department. Set up in 1956, it is one of the college’s oldest departments. “We have people like Festo of Bangalore, we have people like Rane of Chennai, and we have (the) Ashok Leyland people—they have set up their own laboratories in the department. So, what happens is all the state-of-the-art equipment which they are producing as well as what is being doled out in the market are made available to us.”
Publicly listed Rane Holdings Ltd is the parent of the company that supplies auto parts to makers of passenger cars and tractors, among other industries. Festo Controls Pvt. Ltd makes pneumatic products, machines that work on compressed air. Ashok Leyland Ltd is India’s second biggest maker of trucks.
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The college operates on a unique public-private partnership model in which the state government provides aid to most of the courses offered in terms of salary payments to faculty and other staff while the building and infrastructure are financed by the management of the private trust.
Money from two profit-making companies—PSG Industrial Institute and PSG Foundry, the latter a few kilometres from the college—as well as the surplus from tuition fees become part of the trust’s funds.
The management consists of four principal trustees who are members of Govindaswamy’s family (one from the family tree of each son of Govindaswamy) and others appointed by the principal trustees for a five-year term.
“All the trustees work without salary from the beginning. They have to come on their own, serve and then go; even transport—nothing will be paid,” says Rudramoorthy. “…They (the trust members) give full freedom to the heads of institutions to see that there is growth. They never interfere with the academic freedom of the institution. Their job is only to provide the infrastructure facilities and maintain the financial requirements. How we have to run the institution is decided by the academic faculty led by me.”
The on-campus job placement record of the college is yet another magnet for aspiring engineers. Though companies have hired conservatively this year, at least 90% of PSG’s undergraduate students in most departments have secured jobs, with around 60% of the offers coming from the information technology industry.
New challenge: Some students say teaching standards are falling. Babu Ponnapan / Mint
R. Anathakrishnan and S. Sundhar, both final-year engineering students, utter the word almost simultaneously when asked about what attracted them to PSG—“Placements!”
“People here never look at only jobs. A job is assured as far as PSG is concerned. They look for high-profile companies. Students look at jobs from three parameters—profile matching, brand and pay,” says R. Nadarajan, dean of placement and training.
Despite the good hiring season, students say the declining quality of faculty members and infrastructure are concerns that need urgent attention.
“The new faculty members joining our college do not teach very well. They pass out of their courses and join here as lecturers,” says a second-year student who did not want to be identified either by her name or her course.
Rudramoorthy is upbeat about the future, and says he wants the institution to eventually compete with the elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). “We always think we should overtake the IITs. It is a desire of every principal to see that my institution at least scores much better than IIT in (at least) one aspect and we did it in industry-institution interaction—because of the support of the management.”