Discussing New Age Tech Courses: In Interview with Dr. R.B Jadeja – Dean of Engineering, Marwadi University (Rajkot)

1. Tell us about the Department of Engineering at Marwadi University and what kind of Skilled Professionals is the department trying to create? 

The Marwadi University – Faculty of Engineering, is a world-class engineering college recognized for excellence, innovation, and the societal relevance and impact of its pursuits. We produce creative and technically strong engineers and pioneering research solutions to global challenges. We do this with an unprecedented commitment to integrating engineering with sciences, arts, business, and other disciplines to yield transformative results.

In the classroom, the research lab, or the design studio, our community is busy pursuing ground-breaking research or teaching students. Our faculty members are engaged and accessible.

A large part of our success comes from our top-notch faculty. Our faculty push learners beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries to explore and create new areas of study. Their state-of-art-research looks at critical issues in materials, processes, systems, infrastructure, hardware, and software at every scale—nano to macro to global—grounded in a translational approach that integrates the values of fundamentals and applied research to meet societal needs.

Research at Marwadi is on an aggressive growth mode with programs in engineering geared to meet the changing needs of industry and society. Marwadi University provides undergraduate engineering students with early tools for research, the excitement of discovery, and the opportunity to implement ideas. Our clubs such as ‘Construction Club’, ‘Aeromodelling Club’, ‘IOT Club’, and many more, and programs such as ‘Parivartan’ help prepare profession-ready graduates.

The institution’s strong alliance with industries ensures relevancy in classrooms and research labs. One of our prominent industry associations is ‘MUJCAL’ – a business-education partnership gives high-achieving students professional experience. Every year, the college is increasingly turning discoveries into commercialized innovations through government-supported ‘Start-ups’ that help our mission to build solutions for a better tomorrow.

A shared purpose drives Marwadi University to make a better world through education, research, and innovation. We are exciting and unique, superlative but not discriminatory, resourceful and creative, keen with numbers, and open-hearted to talent regardless of where it comes from. We are committed to producing, sharing, and preserving knowledge to combat significant challenges. MU is dedicated to providing its students with an education that combines rigorous academic study and the excitement of discovery with the support and intellectual stimulation of a diverse campus community. We seek to develop in each of our students the ability and passion for working wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

2. The latest addition to the department has been the installation of supercomputer by the government of Gujarat. How do you see this move as a turning point for Marwadi University in terms of R&D, Collaborations, Partnerships, and upskilling of Computer Engineering Students?

Marwadi University has been conferred a supercomputer facility from the Gujrat Council of Science and Technology (GUJCOST). This facility is equipped with a Param Shavak system developed at C-DAC for high-performance computing, and deep learning with x86 based latest Intel processor, 98 GB RAM, 16 TB storage, Nvidia based co-processing accelerator technologies, and a software development environment.

The installation of Supercomputer makes Marwadi University Gujarat’s only University with Supercomputer and AI and Big Data, ICT courses under one roof, enabling the highly motivated individuals, faculties, and researchers who wish to excel in various subject areas of Computer Science and Engineering.

A big turning point in education and research in the AI & Big Data can be estimated by the fact that, at present, Marwadi University has 400 students every year taking admission in the Computer & IT Department and 60 students in Computer Applications. With an estimate of around 20% of students undertaking projects in AI/ML/DL utilizing supercomputing facilities, we will have approximately 90 students who will be directly involved with the facility of Supercomputer. Adding to this estimation, we have around 600 students from Electrical, Mechanical, Pharmacy, and Science streams, of which 3% will be benefited directly or indirectly due to this super resource on the campus.  

MU is also looking forward to promoting the paradigm where AI researchers work in close collaboration with the researcher in other domains like healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture, and many more enabling such cross-sectoral collaboration, for instance, a medical doctor and a computer scientist, to lead research for application of latest technology in solving medical problems and also making realtime data available in the process. The opportunity will act as a support for computation resources, simulation, and data analysis and also encourage research that provides global solutions for environmental and societal concerns.

MU has also started working towards partnering with international universities that will provide a plethora of national and international opportunities in the field of AI, CE/IT, ICT, etc., through collaboration and partnerships with the industries and other research centers within the country and abroad.

3. Kindly Elaborate on Some of the New-Age tech oriented courses being offered at Marwadi University

Engineering has always been one of the favorite courses among the students. Every year, lakhs of students appear for engineering entrance exams for the admission in BTech course. While Computer Science Engineering/ Software Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, etc. have more demand and competition in India, there are some unique or new age engineering courses, which have been gaining momentum in India. Aligning with national impetus on AI/Big Data/ICT/Cybersecurity and international trends, Marwadi University has been offering these new-age tech-oriented courses that are expected to shape the future of the country.

Here are some of the new-age courses offered at Marwadi University:

Robotic Engineering: Robotic Engineering has been attracting the students over the last few years, and it is one of the emerging latest engineering courses in India. Generally, Robotic Engineering deals with designing the robot, its construction, operation, and application. At present, Robotics is being offered as a subject in Computer Science Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Due to the emphasis on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in India, Robotics Engineering is expected to tune the nation’s future. 

Some of the significant roles that a graduate of Robotic Engineering can take up are researchers, analysts, robotic specialists, robotic systems engineers, etc. On the other hand, the concept of Robotics can also be applied in Bioengineering, Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, etc. In the future, Robotics may be used in all the major fields, and there may be a good scope for rapid growth in employment opportunities.

Automobile Engineering: Indian auto industry has turned very competitive in recent years due to the rapid advancement of technology and the emergence of hi-tech vehicles. The Automobile Engineering curriculum at MU deals with designing of different vehicles, designing innovative models for vehicles, manufacturing products required for vehicles, repair, and servicing of vehicles. Students of Automobile Engineering study various subjects like motor systems, vehicle design, technology, and much more. 

As the demand for Automobile Engineering is on the rise, skilled automobile engineers in automobile manufacturing industries, aviation and aircraft industries, etc. will be much sought after.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI and MI courses are designed to make students competent in building intelligent machines. AI and MI courses are specifically designed for students who want to acquire the capability to devise smart solutions to challenges in a variety of research and business domains.

These graduates have a vast scope for employment as Machine Learning Engineer, Data Analyst, Data Scientist, Machine Learning Architect, etc.

Internet of Things (IoT): The Internet of things is the interconnection of devices, home appliances, security cameras, etc. where all devices become smart and interconnected to everything around us. Internet of things is expected to create opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems which can result in improvements in efficiency, economic benefits, and reduce human efforts.

At MU we understand that the world of today is all set to enter an age where more advanced connectivity options amongst networks, systems, devices are going to change the way we live which will go beyond the human to machine communications. The Internet of things has already begun changing the world by providing an excess of options to operate and live a life full of ease.

It is no surprise that as the world becomes more interconnected, the boundaries that have traditionally defined different engineering disciplines are dissolving. The engineers of today and tomorrow see the world, and how they can address its challenges, in a very holistic way. They are enthusiastic about increasingly interdisciplinary research that brings together engineering fields with other disciplines, and an educational curriculum that trains future students to collaborate, create, and lead.

Ultimately, the future is defined by those who will live in it. Our outstanding faculty, staff, and students will determine where we go from here across three areas that are critical to success: research, education, and culture. At MU, we are excited by the path forward that is outlined — and we will work to make this vision of our future a reality.

4. How has the availability of programmes addressing complex technologies such as ai, ml, big data, cybersecurity, ict, helped marwadi university establish its name amongst top universities in the region.

Aligning with national impetus on AI/BigData/ICT/Cybersecurity and international trends, Marwadi University initiated UG programs on AI & Big Data, UG on ICT, and a PG program on cybersecurity within four years. After that, there has been no looking back – MU has been consistently upscaling and upskilling – exploring advanced technology to solve problems in their domain areas. Today, Marwadi University has relatively large research groups led by experienced faculty members in the domain of Pharmacy, Foundry, Physiotherapy, Photonic & Electronic Devices, and Health & Energy focus on AI/ML/DL enabled projects. Some of the undergoing and planned projects by these groups are: smart inspection of metal casting, prediction tool for quality meal casting, short-term load forecasting, gait analysis in 3D motion, design optimization of energy source, a medical diagnostic system based on the medical signal, and image data, document classification, handwriting detection, recovery and treatment prescription in musculoskeletal and neurologically impaired patients, personalized medicine using 3D Printing technology, and IoT enabled anti-TB/ anti-cancer treatment adherence monitoring. These projects will be utilizing supercomputer facilities in model building and analysis.

Also, Marwadi University is a collaborator institute for the leadindia.ai project of the government of India under the leadership of Bennett University. Marwadi University also hosted and organized the biggest IEEE-sponsored conference, ‘INDICON’ in December 2019, with the theme of “Applying Artificial Intelligence for Prosperity and Betterment of Humanity”. Marching ahead with dynamic ideas and synchronizing with the national and international needs in technical advancement, Marwadi University challenges the curious and passionate to imagine and deliver work that matters.

4. Due to the unprecedented disruption posed by COVID, how has technology played a vital role for Universities from Tier 2 cities to emerge as the preferred choice for students.

When it comes to promoting the regional economy, people generally link it with manufacturing and supporting homegrown companies. However, local educational institutions of excellence, at par with other national institutes, have also started being considered in this regard. It is a common misconception that only metro cities can cater to student demands based on social life, infrastructure, employability, etc.

But suddenly we are seeing a rise in the demand for local universities. COVID-19 has created a new world order requiring a shift in perspective and necessitating thinking in different ways. Due to the pandemic, safety and proximity are turning out to be the deciding factors while looking for a good university.  

The current situation is an unforeseen chance for the local institutions to prove their mettle. Today, parents and students are opting for hometown universities rather than taking unnecessary risks of traveling to the metro cities. We are witnessing a changing trend where students who were previously choosing to study in metro-cities such as Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc. are looking for good local options. 

To sum up this situation, we foresee that specific cohorts of students will opt to study closer to home. Parents and students will increasingly look to regional universities for tertiary study. There is a clear trend that more students will look to study in their hometown.

With NAAC A+ accredited education institutions like MU, already equipped with superior infrastructure that ensures the holistic development of the student’s personality with the utmost concern for safety in mind are an understandable choice. In fact, we have received many inquiries from students to transfer their admissions to our university so students can be closer to home and not compromise on their safety. We have already received more than 200 applications to transfer credits from students studying in universities from Metro Cities. ‘Better safe than sorry’ seems to be an apt summation of parents’ sentiments in the times of this pandemic as more and more students are taking admissions in premium local colleges that promise a safe environment and a competitive syllabus.

Having said that, we live in a world where norms are constantly unravelling around the edges. What will happen once the pandemic is over and life gets back to normal? Will the local universities get the same importance? The answer is obvious – those universities that keep upgrading and upskilling will sustain and thrive. And Marwadi University has always believed in the concept of being and creating lifelong learners.

5. Elaborate on the measures initiated by Marwadi University catering to student and researchers expectations for hi-tech infrastructure provided by universities in India.

Marwadi Education Foundation was incepted to enhance human capabilities towards the betterment of humankind. MU strives to contribute knowledge & skill to augment human life and provide immense opportunities for every individual to discover his/her true potential. The commitment is to provide the best and industry-relevant education.

Today, Marwadi University is home to 9000+ students from 31+ countries studying in 32+ courses in Science, Commerce, and Humanities taught by 500+ educators that include 110+ Ph.D faculty from prestigious institutions like IITs, NITs, Stanford University, and NALSAR. IBM, CISCO, Cyberoam, TCS, Wipro are our Knowledge Partners.

Above all, the Marwadi Group of Institutions has been accredited by NAAC with A+ Grade, which makes it the only institution in Gujarat to have acquired this prestigious grading. The institution is among the top 4% of Indian institutions accredited with NAAC A+ Grade.

At MU, we offer a unique blend of quality education, industry connect, global exposure, entrepreneurial skills at a very affordable cost in a safe and secure environment of Gujarat.

Besides being the only university of Gujarat to have Supercomputer and AI and Big Data, ICT courses under one roof, we have a few recent ingenuities that strengthen hi-tech capacity building and resources. For instance, the university has acquired 15 Nvidia deep learning kits and arranged a training program for faculty members on the campus. Also, organizing workshops given by the experts working in industries, collaborating with foreign and national institutes/universities running similar programs for student exchange, and arranging internships for real-life projects with industries – all these are Marwadi University initiatives to prepare students for future challenges in solving problems using a hi-tech and sustainable approach.

6. Where do you see Marwadi University in the next 5 years?

It was a very proud moment for Marwadi University when State Education Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama, who heads the NEP 2020 state task force, announced Shri Ketan Marwadi, Founder and Chairman of Marwadi University, as one of the pivotal committee members to prepare a road map on how to implement the new education policy in the state. With such a visionary leader at the helm of Marwadi University, we not only look forward to growth, but we see our institution as a leading university ushering in the winds of change in the world of education. Marwadi University will be pivotal in creating and implementing the NEP 2020 – where the curriculum and pedagogy of our institutions will develop a conscious awareness of one’s roles and responsibilities in a changing world. The vision of the Policy will be to instil among the learners a deep-rooted pride in being a good human, not only in thought, but also in spirit, intellect, and deeds, as well as to develop knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions that support responsible commitment to human rights, sustainable development and living, and global well-being, thereby reflecting a truly global citizen.

7. Where do we see ourselves in the next five year?

Our mission is to seek solutions to critical global problems and to educate leaders who will improve the world through the power of engineering principles, techniques, and systems.

Our key goals are to:

  • Conduct curiosity-driven and problem-driven research that generates new knowledge and produces discoveries that provide the foundations for future engineered systems
  • Deliver world-class, research-based education to students and broad-based training to leaders in academia, industry, and society
  • Drive technology transfer with profoundly and broadly educated people and transformative ideas that will improve our community and our world.

The corona pandemic is an eye-opener for the educational policymakers as the world as a whole came to a standstill due to the public health emergency. Even the education system remains vulnerable towards such outbreaks as such epidemics have profound consequences on uninterrupted education for all. It has been a learning experience as Covid-19 takes its toll on human life and the global economy. The situation not only relates to strengthening the health system but also links to education-based contingency planning and social empowerment of the masses in advance to increase their psychological preparedness for dealing with such an epidemic. Though as a well-equipped education system, we have managed to reap the benefits of learning with new technologies, the transformative power of ICT will be known in times to come. But as educational planners, we must remain watchful and flexible even in the future to adapt quickly to any unexpected turn of events to maintain continuity of education. As vigilant and forward-thinking educationists, we must embark upon new solutions to encourage ‘learning anywhere, anytime’.