Engineering is the application of knowledge to the most efficient conversion of natural resources to human needs. Engineering is associated with a large amount of specialised information; professional practice requires significant training in the application of that knowledge.
To train such a cadre of professionals, imbibing them with accurate knowledge, and inculcating the right skills and competencies into them, we need institutions that nurture the journey of talented young engineering aspirants and holistically guide them on their journeys. We need institutions like the Islampur-based Rajarambapu Institute of Technology.
Rajarambapu Institute of Technology (RIT), Rajaramnagar, formerly known as College of Engineering, Sakharale, was started in 1983. Located near Islampur, 7 kilometres away from Peth Naka off Pune-Bangalore highway, RIT has a beautiful green campus of 17 hectares and buildings on it measuring 54,000 sq. m.
RIT has emerged as a leading technological institute in Western Maharashtra through its dedicated and disciplined approach to provide quality technical education over a period of more than thirty-seven years.
To be a globally recognized institute committed to excellence in academics, research, knowledge creation and delivery to develop socially responsible professionals.
- To provide innovation and excellence in academic design, delivery, and assessment to ensure holistic development of students for employability, entrepreneurship, and higher education.
- To design and keep the curricula updated, based on changing needs of industry and society worldwide, and to provide experiential learning through industry connect.
- To be at the forefront of emerging technological research, innovation, and creation of intellectual property to attract talent.
- To retain talent by building relationships based on professionalism, mutual respect, accountability, engagement, and integrity.
- To leverage alumni to inculcate leadership skills, social awareness, and a passion for lifelong learning to make students socially responsible global citizens.
- To build and maintain world-class infrastructure and adopt modern automation technologies for the purpose of organizational efficiency.
- To identify alternate sources of revenue and augment inflows.
The Scholarly Educator and Veteran Leader
The personality behind RIT’s success is its Director – Dr Mrs Sushma S. Kulkarni. She is also working as an elected Executive Member on the Executive committee of Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC). She is an Editor for the “Journal of Engineering Education Transformation” (JEET). She is a fellow of the Institution of Engineers, India, and an elected member of IEI – Pune chapter. She is actively associated with IUCEE Foundation as a promoter.
Dr Sushma has received more than 25 awards/honours for her outstanding academic work including ‘Global Award for Excellence’ in engineering education, ‘2019 IFEES Duncan Fraser Global Award’ with a cash prize of $1000 USD, and the ISTD’s ‘Emerging HRD Thinker’s gold medal for her paper.
She has 34 years of teaching experience in civil engineering programs. She has received her PhD in Civil Engineering, (2003), M E in Construction Management, (1993), from Shivaji University, Kolhapur, India, and B E in Civil Engineering, (1987), from VNIT, Nagpur, India.
She has dutifully fulfilled the post of Principal/Director for more than 15 years. Under her leadership, the college has transformed itself from an affiliated engineering college to an autonomous institute with excellent credentials. Dr Sushma has contributed to 142 research papers and has two patents provisionally registered. She has delivered more than 110 expert talks on various topics in and outside India. Under her guidance, 3 students have completed PhD and 6 are currently pursuing it. She has guided more than 60 UG and PG students on their projects.
She has worked as a jury member for the ‘GEDC-Airbus Global Diversity Award’ in Australia (2015), a keynote speaker at the Asian Engineering Education Conference in China (2016), and she has presented as panellist at the GEDC Conference in Canada (2017). She has contributed to a book chapter in a book published by IFEES and GEDC for Global women leaders titled ‘Rising to the Top’, published in 2019.
Challenges then and now
Like many illustrious institutions making their way to the top, RIT had to also go through its own unique set of trials and tribulations since its inception. Continuous faculty development through training ‘Need Analysis’ is a big one. RIT also had to make tremendous strides to get industry-institute liaison, to get PhD qualified faculty to maintain the cadre ratio, and to develop a cell on community services project. Additionally, the institute faced the following types of challenges:
- Proper implementation of strategy from Chairman BOG to Faculty and measurement of outcomes annually;
- Make every faculty try to achieve their Key Result Areas (KRA);
- Marketing strategies to be designed for 100% admissions;
- Improve the curriculum contents design, delivery and assessment to implement OBE;
- The need to have more than 10% students from outside countries and Maharashtra;
- The want to have merit ranks be in the top 30,000 students in the state;
- 100% placement of students including higher studies, jobs n industry, government sector and entrepreneurship;
- 100% employability (Jobs/HE/entrepreneurship).
Lockdowns and the EdTech Solution
Lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic changed the perspective of engineering education. RIT, however, looked at this as an opportunity to foster the successful implementation of active learning tools in delivery and assessment.
Soon enough, RIT delivered 100 per cent of its syllabus by online mode with the help of ICT tools like MS Teams, Zoom, Moodle, Slido, etc. During delivery, more focus was given to interactive sessions with the help of active learning tools like brainstorming, quizzes, project and problem-based learning, collaborative learning and many more.
Assessment was conducted by online mode, in which open book tests and MCQs were considered. To avoid the malpractices, proper care was taken by appropriate design of question papers and faculties were trained for the same.
Aspiring to Create Innovators
An institute that is connected with the industry in such a way that the graduates passing out from the institute must have problem-solving skills, character, creativity and an ability to enjoy working whilst generating innovative solutions: that is the future Rajarambapu Institute of Technology aspires to. To do this a lot of change has to be brought with reference to the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP).
“We need to focus on making the education multidisciplinary, creating the campus as a product innovation and development centre with start-ups,” remarked the Director of RIT. “The emphasis ultimately should be to prepare a graduate engineer for higher studies or to take up a job in industry or become an entrepreneur. Thus, the vision to make our campus as a creator of holistic engineers, who will professionally connect with the society and think of developing the community around them, will lay the groundwork for the world’s future,” concluded the astute leader – Dr Mrs Sushma S. Kulkarni.