Professor U. A. Yajnik, Dean of Student Affairs at IIT Bombay, talks to Youth Inc about the teaching culture and creative entrepreneurship at India’s premier tech institute
IITs are known for their impeccable teaching standards. What according to you constitutes good teaching?
Firstly, good teaching is about the teacher who should have a good understanding and command over the subject. He tries to convey it in the class setting and is responsive to whether students are receiving it or not. He is able to moderate it to the level that students can understand. Finally, the teacher should be able to inspire the students.
In the classroom, to what extent would you advocate the use of technology for teaching?
So long as the technology is not a substitute for teaching itself – technology should enhance communication. It should not make the lecture come across as routine or scanned. The vibrancy of the classroom should be maintained. It should get the students engaged. For example, the clicker method of teaching is a great thing, for the whole class gets involved and they can see how they’ve responded to a question. Technology should enhance the traditional methods of teaching.
Many IIT graduates end up pursuing a career abroad. What are your thoughts on this?
Most youngsters go abroad to take up a challenge. They go for advanced degrees and get an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and capability. Many of them come back to India and add value to our system. Similar comments apply also to those who get placement abroad. Most Indian diasporas give back in some form or another.
What new departments and courses will IIT Bombay be introducing in the coming year?
We’ve added two major departments in the last 2-3 years (bioscience, energy science). A few centres started degree programmes complementing their sponsored projects. There is enthusiasm among the young faculty and depending on the proposals, new departments will be created.
We’ve featured a few of the inventions that have been developed at the IITs in the last few years. What is the IIT’s influence in helping students with their inventions?
Firstly, we have some very inspiring faculty who guide them and who’ve created the structure for them to participate in science and technology. Secondly, we have the campus infrastructure where most of the students stay in hostels and have easy access to faculty and labs where they can test out and check their ideas. The campus dwelling is also a big factor as all the young and bright people staying together helps. IIT-B also has a formal set up to help the students in acquiring funding and patents. Some students manage to get funding themselves but they go under the banner of the IIT and that helps.
What would you say to the students who fail while chasing their dreams?
Most endeavours in life are quite fruitful if we take the right amount of interest in them. Sometimes, we’re just not aware of the opportunities available. If some doors are closed, then some other doors will open if you explore again and persevere. You will be able to find something that will interest you, engage you. One should not take a short view of one’s failure to meet originally planned goals in one’s career.
“Most endeavours in life are quite fruitful if we take the right amount of interest in them… Sometimes, we’re just not aware of the opportunities available.”
Volume 2 Issue 12