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Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 12, 2012

HoD Expectations & Your Project - What To Do?

It seems like a common problem across 99% of the engineering colleges in India. The Head Of The Departments are absolutely clueless about the latest technologies & developments and yet, they ask students to come up with their own ideas for the third and final year projects. Students then opt for the following two 'easy' options -

  1. Search for a ready made project online. Download it and submit it as their own.
  2. Pay a sum to local 'Project Developer' and submit it to the college as their own.
This not only kills the engineering spirit but also takes students away from engineering. I'm wondering whether there's a fix for this? On one hand, there's no way you can argue with your HoD or project guide and on the other hand, students have no motivation to do a project on their own.
This is wrong. What's the solution?
K!r@nS!ngu
K!r@nS!ngu • Jan 12, 2012
The_Big_K
It seems like a common problem across 99% of the engineering colleges in India. The Head Of The Departments are absolutely clueless about the latest technologies & developments and yet, they ask students to come up with their own ideas for the third and final year projects. Students then opt for the following two 'easy' options -

  1. Search for a ready made project online. Download it and submit it as their own.
  2. Pay a sum to local 'Project Developer' and submit it to the college as their own.
This not only kills the engineering spirit but also takes students away from engineering. I'm wondering whether there's a fix for this? On one hand, there's no way you can argue with your HoD or project guide and on the other hand, students have no motivation to do a project on their own.

This is wrong. What's the solution?
Increasing the teaching values is the only solution for this problem.
College Management allotting one teacher for each group as a project mentor/guide.
This mentors should have given proper training and they should(they only can) motivate the students to do the project by their own.

There is one more problem The_Big_K :
Now-a-days college management giving a list of projects to the students and asking them to choose one from the list. Imagine a student feelings... he doesn't have right to choose his own
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 12, 2012
I know how the teachers and professors these days are. Totally insane and have zero knowledge of the subjects they are teaching! I'd not blame students alone, of course. There is almost NO ONE to guide them and tell them what's right and what's wrong.

I'm even thinking of developing a parallel system in my lifetime that won't follow the traditional teaching methods in Engineering.
There is one very BIG problem:

I had a project guide who did nothing but just gave us deadlines and meaningless suggestions. But the HOD looked at our project from a different angle.
Now, according to our project guide's suggestions we followed the same in our project. But when we had to present out project before the HOD, he would refuse and say; "What are you doing with your project? Is this how you follow the instructions of your guide?"
And at that very moment our guide would say, "Yes, where is your concentration girls? Do you want to do this project or no?"

We were like..WHAT? :O
But then we can't say anything to our guide, or else they refuse to help us further and disown the project group; and then we are all on our own.

PS: There is no smiley for a broken heart. 😭
The_Big_K
I'm even thinking of developing a parallel system in my lifetime that won't follow the traditional teaching methods in Engineering.
Yes, please do that Dude.
The system must change!
Rupam Das
Rupam Das • Jan 13, 2012
The_Big_K
I know how the teachers and professors these days are. Totally insane and have zero knowledge of the subjects they are teaching! I'd not blame students alone, of course. There is almost NO ONE to guide them and tell them what's right and what's wrong.

I'm even thinking of developing a parallel system in my lifetime that won't follow the traditional teaching methods in Engineering.
If students are not good enough to get a rank in AIEEE/IIT/JEE, They can't simply comment. Because those who gets into private engineering colleges gets in there because they are left with no options. When you are not capable of getting the best, no point in complaining. I realized it because I have been close to both IT giants, research community and students.

It's not that teachers are insane, this whose business of getting an engineering seat with 35% in PCM is insane. Teachers are bad (as most claims) because they dont have to be good. Being good cant change a student who is poor.

ultimately everybody gets a job some where or the other. Why complain?
Ankita Katdare
Ankita Katdare • Jan 13, 2012
Rupam Das
If students are not good enough to get a rank in AIEEE/IIT/JEE, They can't simply comment. Because those who gets into private engineering colleges gets in there because they are left with no options. When you are not capable of getting the best, no point in complaining. I realized it because I have been close to both IT giants, research community and students.

It's not that teachers are insane, this whose business of getting an engineering seat with d in PCM is insane. Teachers are bad (as most claims) because they dont have to be good. Being good cant change a student who is poor.

ultimately everybody gets a job some where or the other. Why complain?
Don't you think it's the job of teachers to encourage and motivate (intellectually) poor students and make them aware of what is happening in the real world?
Isn't it there job to develop interest in students who, according to you could not get a rank in AIEEE/IIT/JEE?

But you know what, they don't because they can't.
Here's what a senior lecturer in our college said during a lecture on 'Satellite Communications'
Ionosphere is a hemisphere, astronomers 'travel in space' and people 'rotate' in spacecrafts because they are living bodies.
God help the students who got her has their project guide.
Rupam Das
Rupam Das • Jan 13, 2012
A lecturer who teaches in such colleges are also product of private college. Especially in CS and IT. Tell me if you are talented and have slightest of coding skills, will you work for a college for INR 22,00/- or will you join Wipro off campus?

People who stays out in colleges are often those who doesn't manage to get it in campus. So...
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 13, 2012
Rupam Das
If students are not good enough to get a rank in AIEEE/IIT/JEE, They can't simply comment.
I'd disagree. We're talking about the majority of students who cannot seek admissions in IITs and say NITs - which we'd consider as the 'top' engineering institutions. There are several who don't get into IITs or NITs and are 100x better than those studying in the top institutes. So generalizing isn't the right thing in this context.

It's not that teachers are insane, this whose business of getting an engineering seat with 35% in PCM is insane. Teachers are bad (as most claims) because they dont have to be good. Being good cant change a student who is poor.

ultimately everybody gets a job some where or the other. Why complain?
The quality of teachers, lecturers & professors is *POOR*. I say it with much more confidence now than ever before. I regularly interact with them and I'm quite sure a majority of the students will have the same opinion - most of the times the lecturers & professors aren't qualified enough.

I totally disagree that "IIT" & "NITs" are the 'top' ones. They might be the 'top' ones because of the 'brand' associated with them, but certainly not the best. I wonder what 'research' these top colleges are involved in. I as a technology blogger haven't spotted a single technological advancement from any of the top IITs in last several months. And that's not my fault.

Keeping the discussion on track - we're talking about students who go to private colleges and have to deal with the lecturers and project guides who are clueless about their own topics.
simplycoder
simplycoder • Jan 13, 2012
There is no point in distingushing students on basis of merit, if there is one, then I think teachers should face it too. Until and unless a student has a medical report stating that he is incapable in an intellectual way and that no amount of efforts can make him equal with other 'intellectual' students, I think its a biased for anyone to judge the same. I personally believe that real talent or intelligence would come from dedication. Dedication might comes motivation. There are two ways for motivation. One of them might be self motivated. Now those who are self motivated belong to further two categories: Self realized and motivated(planned about their interests) and Only motivated(Those who think and want to do something interesting,willing to put efforts but need guidance). The first category faces fewer problems as compared to second one. Here is the role of teachers. There are brilliant teachers in colleges and even in private streams but then they are very few in number.

The following are reasons as to why majority teachers fail in there job:
1)They think they know everything on their syllabus.
2)They ignorant to any recent developments as it is not included in syllabus.
3)They donot care about students.
4)They think that teaching is an lesser preferred alternative than working for MnCs(So they themselves are unmotivated)
5)Frustrated!! (Its true and it can lie in any of the following criterias, pay,family problems,monotonous routines, and many more to add to it, teachers wouldnt get sacked if they arent able to complete syllabus in one year, this is very unlikely as compared to corporates, so most of them think and are confident for wrong reasons.)

Suggestions to make better teachers:
1)Regular annual tests to be conducted and the pay should be adjusted according to scores.
2)Compulsory Research.
3) Handsome grants to do research.
4)Training to teach efficiently.

These are few options, I can think of many more can be added though.

Once teachers are well trained to teach, they would influence students and help them in projects. Students too would respect them for the way they teach and knowledge they have. And so it might be the start of better training in engineering. (Institutes shouldnt matter, after 4 years of BE, now I realize that engineering is more of mentality and attitude than of degree.)
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 13, 2012
simplycoder
The following are reasons as to why majority teachers fail in there job:
1)They think they know everything on their syllabus.
2)They ignorant to any recent developments as it is not included in syllabus.
3)They donot care about students.
4)They think that teaching is an lesser preferred alternative than working for MnCs(So they themselves are unmotivated)
5)Frustrated!! (Its true and it can lie in any of the following criterias, pay,family problems,monotonous routines, and many more to add to it, teachers wouldnt get sacked if they arent able to complete syllabus in one year, this is very unlikely as compared to corporates, so most of them think and are confident for wrong reasons.)

Suggestions to make better teachers:
1)Regular annual tests to be conducted and the pay should be adjusted according to scores.
2)Compulsory Research.
3) Handsome grants to do research.
4)Training to teach efficiently.
Totally agree with all the points above! The teachers should be assessed regularly and processes should be developed so that the teachers and students are up to date with the technological advancements. However, most of them struggle with the basics.

I think this discussion is veering away from the main point: What to do when your team is unable to meet the HoD expectations. Most of the times, the HoDs and project guides will give you totally pointless suggestions to look 'well informed'. It doesn't work.

I personally think that coming up with new project ideas isn't difficult at all. You just have to fill the gaps and improve the existing systems. I was fed up interviewing candidates who had developed the attendance management and library management systems with almost zero additions to existing systems. I asked why did they choose to do the already done project - then the answers ranged from "Because the project is complicated" to "Our project guide chose the topic for us". Goes beyond my logic.

I agree with all the suggestions above, but they aren't easy to implement. With the current systems in India, I do not see any hope above suggestions can be realized anytime in next 5 years.

But what looks possible to me is to make the engineering students 'think' of problems and find solutions. Online discussion forums can just be major factor to do that.
simplycoder
simplycoder • Jan 13, 2012
The_Big_K
Totally agree with all the points above! The teachers should be assessed regularly and processes should be developed so that the teachers and students are up to date with the technological advancements. However, most of them struggle with the basics.

I think this discussion is veering away from the main point: What to do when your team is unable to meet the HoD expectations. Most of the times, the HoDs and project guides will give you totally pointless suggestions to look 'well informed'. It doesn't work.

I personally think that coming up with new project ideas isn't difficult at all. You just have to fill the gaps and improve the existing systems. I was fed up interviewing candidates who had developed the attendance management and library management systems with almost zero additions to existing systems. I asked why did they choose to do the already done project - then the answers ranged from "Because the project is complicated" to "Our project guide chose the topic for us". Goes beyond my logic.

I agree with all the suggestions above, but they aren't easy to implement. With the current systems in India, I do not see any hope above suggestions can be realized anytime in next 5 years.

But what looks possible to me is to make the engineering students 'think' of problems and find solutions. Online discussion forums can just be major factor to do that.
Improvizing on exisisting systems is easy when it comes to CS/IT branch but then it is slightly difficult on other non-computing streams for the main reason of the required components. (We had no help from our college in whatsoever way when it came to h/w more over few things are considerably priced and it wouldnt be required by students after the first use eg, circuit board etcher,microcontroller burner and so on).

Based on current education system and influence of teachers, many students are not interested in technology. To justify this, there were many questions asked in format of "I want a project... " or "I want a report for the following project" all that most of them do is "kindly help" or "Thank you."

When fellow CEan asks them about their work, either they disappear or be oversmart. I have encounterd only a few (less than 5) geniune help seekers. I really like the way they asked for help.
"I am studying something, My goal is to achieve this, I have already done this but there is a mistake in some highlighted part, kindly help." or "I have done this, please send ideas to improve it.."

The best part on the forum is, CEans responded with enthusiasm and wrote the best of what they could come up with.

Now for the main point of discussion, generally I wouldnt mind to help a student if he asks in the following order:
1)His current stream and year (By this, we can guage an approximate level of knowledge)
2)What his project is all about. (So that we can think in correct direction)
3)His geniune work or report what he has written.
4)How he want the code or equivalent to behave.
Its taken for granted that the deadline is not a week ahead.
https://www.amazon.com/What-Best-College-Teachers-Do/dp/0674013255
https://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2006/11/why_does_engine.html
I have been and still continue to be a teacher. I always believed that a teacher is just a student, who has travelled a little further along the road.
During my first lecture in IIT M in 1962 a student not much younger than I asked me a question about something collateral to the point being discussed. I said that I did not know, but that I would find out and get back. There was a stunned silence then a babble of voices erupted saying,'you are the first teacher that accepted his lack of knowledge in something a student asked'. It is a different matter that I found out the info and gave it in the next class.

I used to spend 6 to 10 hours preparing each lecture. Never used tattered old notes and repeat a lesson. May be the fact that I was myself a student recently had something to do with it. However, I took a decision that I will quickly complete the syllabus as required by the rules and use the extra time for creative co-operative non competitive work.

I have continued this policy till date.

Not all teachers are bad. Here is a good one:
https://web.mit.edu/sp.784/www/DOCUMENTS/Process of Design (Slocum, MIT).pdf

The students too should do their bit. At least after reaching college, they should not expect to be spoon fed.

Education should teach students how to think. This is sadly missing.

I remember my student days in Andhra 'Varsity. PhD scholars used to interact with freshers helping them with clearing doubts, loaning books and stuff. We also helped them out taking readings or watching over a long drawn experiment while they went to eat or attend to some personal chore.
Probably there are lots more students. But I rarely see interaction like that nowadays.
Kaustubh Katdare
Kaustubh Katdare • Jan 14, 2012
Of course, it would be incorrect to generalize that all the teachers are bad. But most of the ones who teach in "XYZ College Of Engineering" are actually bad. Most of them are just out of colleges and those who can't find jobs in the IT industry, join jobs as lecturers in the upcoming engineering colleges.

The major blame goes on the education system - a topic that has been discussed beyond the limits of boredom.
All the Final year projects start in the 7th semester.
The project topics / problem statement is registered by the end of 6th semester.

How about the HOD conduct exclusive 'Brainstorming' sessions, wherein the HOD discusses with the students the Latest Technology and the Hot topics, and tells the students the various ways to come up with new innovative ideas. Also the HOD makes himself clear about his expectations from the students. These sessions should be STRICTLY held atleast twice a week for 3months prior to the project topic selection process, so that all the students have enough perspective and will be able to perform well in the project. Also its the responsibility of the students to be more interactive in these sessions, ask more questions, put forth their ideas even if they sound silly. Many students don't know where their interest lies, because they never explored things, because they never knew how to go about it. For once, even I didn't know. But that's ok we all go through that phase. If these sessions are taken seriously and attended sincerely by the students, then I'm sure there will be awesome projects under construction. 😉


It's the teachers who are experienced, and they alone can guide the students.
Like parents guide children.

Correct GUIDANCE will finally fulfill the expectations of the HOD and the students themselves. 😁
Brain storming, mind mapping and lateral thinking are all methods in the madness of creative engineering and also other areas. How many of us CEans have trained ourselves in these?
How many schools teach these?

Why pile on HODs, who are loaded with admin work these days? Many use that as an easy route to slide out of teaching and research. Kapil Sibal's move to guarantee a Rs.700,000 research grant to the entry level staff may work. More likely it will go the way of MPLAD schemes, where hundreds of unwanted bus shelters are built at a cost of Rs.30,000 and billed at Rs.1,50,000.

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