Innovation is a product of several failed experiments and one successful presentation. Innovation takes inspiration from an undefined idea and creates wonders for the world. And stating the importance of these experiments and a person’s journey with them, Albert Einstein once said, “No amount of experimentation can prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.”
But who are these people who experiment a lot? Probably noble professions like doctors and scientists will definitely show up. However, there is one name that probably does the greatest number of failed experiments and still has the passion for trying one more time and giving out the final result.
Engineers, you probably must have guessed it right, and the due credit for their tried and tested experiments are often less talked about. And if shown a man the current cell phones the world is using, it would be a magic trick for him. Putting this into the right words, Elon Musk said, “Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.”
This is indeed true, connecting the dots looking backwards. And the most prominent engineering colleges across the world are training young minds to become the modern-day magician of their predecessors.
One such institute in India’s lush landscapes is the Vellore Institute of Technology, aka VIT. Today, VIT is one of the finest engineering institutes to study engineering in the country and is aspired by many students worldwide.
In an exchange of words with Dr G Viswanathan, the Chancellor of VIT shares some insightful intricacies of the adopted pedagogies. Apart from that, he also shares the journey of the institute and maps down the track for the future.
So, let’s dive deep into the eccentric journey of VIT!
The Inception Story
The inception story of VIT is more like a bridge between quality higher education and the modern world in the west. Since its inception, VIT has always sought to provide the highest quality education for students across the world. Over the years, the school has also adopted various innovative methods to improve the education standard and create a cosmopolitan atmosphere for students from all corners of the globe.
In Pursuit of Excellence
The Vellore Institute of Technology has set global standards in the field of teaching and research in its relentless pursuit of excellence. In fact, the institute has made this their way of life for everyone and motivates youngsters to pursue more. Apart from that, the Memoranda of Understanding with various international universities is the strength that the university immensely takes pride in while creating a loop of opportunities for student exchange programs and joint research projects for the mutual benefit of students and universities.
Moreover, the VIT campus is spread across a vast area of 372 acres and has state-of-the-art infrastructure to house and provide sufficient for both students and faculty. The campus further houses many auditoriums, plush open spaces, outdoor stages and many more.
Academically, VIT offers 40 undergraduate programs, 37 postgraduate programs and 13 integrated programs and also follows a ‘Fully Flexible Credit System (FFCS)’ for course registration by the students.
An Extensive Pedagogical Approach
Understanding the importance of practice and experimentation for grooming students to become not just engineers but magicians, VIT has adopted a uniquely curated learning pedagogy for its students. Explaining this, Dr Viswanathan says, “VIT has been extensively following the Project Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy. The implementation of PBL has facilitated hands-on learning and resulted in substantially enhancing the higher order thinking skills of students.”
Some of the important learnings from this extensive PBL pedagogies are:
- Provides a strong context for learning new ideas and concepts
- Enables accelerated learning and facilitates higher-order thinking
- Appeals to slow learners and motivates them to perform well
- Reduces the gap between theory and practical applications.
A Perfect Equilibrium of Quality Education
The curriculum curated by VIT for students was developed to serve the students with extensive knowledge and upskill them properly. And even the institute management agrees that maintaining that equilibrium is a tough task, but the school management has effectively put up their dedication and assured the maintenance of a smooth knowledge flow for its students.
Asserting how the institute has maintained the equilibrium, Dr Viswanathan says, “Our quality people and their dedication take care of quality in teaching, learning, research and innovation. The process and procedures we follow in teaching, learning and evaluation ensure quality. Curriculums are designed as per the requirement of present and future students so that they can compete with others. Periodic review by the internal and external audit teams and necessary actions taken by the team streamlines the quality process. We are keen for experimental learning and holistic development of students.”
Dr G Viswanathan – Merlin of VIT
Dr G Viswanathan established Vellore Engineering College in 1984 in the lush vegetation of Vellore with a vision to offer world-class education to students to create a sustainable and innovative future.
In the first year, the college took 180 students and over the years, the college evolved as a mammoth university with over 45000 students at its campuses. In response to the overwhelming demand from students and parents, VIT is establishing two new campuses, VITAP at Amaravati and VIT-Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, from the academic year 2017-18. Dr G Viswanathan’s vision of making VIT a thriving, multicultural institution has become a reality with students from all the states of India and from 77 countries enrolled in the university.
Today, VIT is one of the top-ranked institutions in India, and as per NIRF 2022 (National Institutional Ranking Framework), VIT ranks 9th best university, 10th best institution for research and 12th best engineering institution in India.
Talking about Dr G Viswanathan’s exceptional vision and leadership skills, the institution’s management says, “Dr G Viswanathan has created opportunities for women and unemployed youth in the region by providing avenues for training on vocational aspects, which encourages them to be self-reliant. His initiatives have helped them augment the standard of living. Dr GV offers scholarships to students from disadvantaged sections of society to pursue higher education. He has adopted several villages in an effort to improve the quality of life there. He established the Universal Higher Education Trust (UHET) to help the less fortunate students access higher education.”
A Truly Global and Advanced Institution
The curriculum curated at the Vellore Institute of technology for engineering is globalised and advanced to leave no leaf unturned for the grooming of its students. Talking about this global and advanced curriculum, Dr G Viswanathan says, “We benchmark our curriculum with top universities of the world. Many of our Professors are trained in top institutions in India and abroad. A good number of foreign professors and students are there on campus. Researchers are collaborating with top universities. All these have created a global ambience in the campus.”
“VIT has also established a high-end user-friendly digital infrastructure in the campus to meet the upcoming challenges of governance and train the students so that they get success globally too,” he further adds.
Clubs and Chapters to Create Learners
Being a truly international university housing some of the finest talents in the country, VIT emphasises extracurricular activities to boost the growth of the students and give them a home away from home.
Explaining how the institute manages to maintain maximum student engagement at such events, Dr G Viswanathan says, “VIT student Clubs and Chapters to make every student find an environment where they can learn and grow together. This provides for a very lively, fun, and resourceful community to employ their erudite years. Sports Community achieves a healthier lifestyle while coping with the highly demanding study environment, and one needs to be emotionally and physically healthy. As a part of this process, VIT emphasises the importance of sports and considers them an integral part of the curriculum. This has made students more enthusiastic.”
Grooming Innovators and Entrepreneurs of the Future
Since experimentation has been instilled in the core of the curriculum, VIT offers various courses, training sessions, workshops, and development programs on innovation and entrepreneurship to students and faculty facilitated by Institute Innovation Council.
Highlighting the intricacies of this special initiative, Dr G Viswanathan says, “The Placement Career Development Centre help the students to prepare for placement interviews in technical and HR aspects by arranging meetings with professional trainers and VIT alumni. The Placement centre also ensures that the students are well-prepared for group discussions. VIT has one of the largest alumni networks.”
Further highlighting the VIT alumni network’s salient features, Dr Viswanathan adds, “There are about 18 Alumni chapters across the country and 30 outside the country including USA, Australia, UK, Muscat, Rwanda, Canada, Germany, Singapore and UAE. The VIT Alumni Association (VITAA), a registered body in India and USA, has been functioning from the institute campus. The main aim of the association is to maintain a link between the institution and the alumni and share information on mutual growth, achievement and advancement in various fields.”
- World-class Education: Excellence in education, grounded in ethics and critical thinking, for the improvement of life.
- Cutting-edge Research: An innovation ecosystem to extend knowledge and solve critical problems.
- Impactful People: Happy, accountable, caring and effective workforce and students.
- Rewarding Co-creations: Active collaboration with national & international industries & universities for productivity and economic development.
- Service to Society: Service to the region and world through knowledge and compassion.
Awards & Achievement
- Ranked among the top 601-700 Universities of the world and one of the top 3 Institutions in India (Shanghai ARWU Ranking 2022).
- The 9th best university, the 10th best research institution and the 12th best engineering institution in India (NIRF Ranking, Govt. of India 2022).
- Engineering and Technology subject areas of VIT are the 346th best in the world and the 9th best in India as per QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022.
- NAAC Accreditation with A++ grade in the 4th cycle (3.66 out of 4.00).
- Ranked within the top 200 Universities in Asia (QS – Asia University Rankings 2022).
- ACBSP (USA) and ACCA (UK) accreditations for MBA and BBA programmes, respectively.
Roadmap for the Future
Lastly, highlighting some of the targets for VIT going forward, Dr Viswanathan highlights,
- “To offer more programmes and courses in multi- and/or transdisciplinary areas;
- To improve the percentage of faculty to be trained in India and abroad through collaborative research;
- To increase global visibility;
- To increase the percentage of foreign students;
- To increase the number of research labs, including a centralised sophisticated instruments facility to promote cutting-edge research;
- To increase the number of academic activities with a strong focus on applied research with social impacts;
- To make a true world-class university for India.”