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New Delhi: Students at some Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) may soon be able to undertake industry projects and earn academic credits, marking a shift in the way engineering education is structured in the country.

New avenues: The IIT campus in New Delhi. IIT Kanpur has taken steps to allow students to take on real-world projects from companies. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint

He said the move could also encourage engineering graduates to pursue doctoral programmes. “Companies are yet to begin outsourcing their research, but we expect this to get popular in the future, and hopefully, this should motivate students to pursue Phds," he added.

IIT Kanpur has taken steps to allow students to take on real-world projects from companies, work on them through the duration of their course that typically lasts four to five years, and secure academic credits after they complete their programme.

A professor at IIT Delhi, who didn’t want to be identified, said similar plans are afoot at IIT Delhi, too.

Though these initiatives are still preliminary, they are significant considering warnings by academicians and industry that a big chunk of engineering graduates do not pursue research, opting instead for well-paying jobs in information technology.

“This has been one of the flip sides of the IT industry. Not only have we lost potential scientists... but even bright engineers who graduate from the IITs no longer go on to do research," said T. Ramasami, a scientist and secretary of department of science and technology (DST).

On their part, students at IIT Kanpur have formed an association to approach the industry for projects. The government also plans to support such initiatives. “We are set to launch a website called the open innovation network where companies post their unsolved research problems for anyone to solve," said A.S. Rao, who heads the entrepreneurship division at DST. Mint had reported on the launch of such a website on 24 April. “The students could use this avenue, too."

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Updated: 20 May 2009, 10:23 PM IST
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