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`Modern engineers must have global vision'

Vinson Kurian

Engineers of the 21st century will have numerous opportunities in discovery, innovation and sustained learning. The three promising fields are nano-technology, biotechnology and information technology.

Thiruvananthapuram , Aug. 26

INDIA must make a strategic shift from merely demanding `excellence' of its large scientific community and should insist on, and reward `pre-eminence' in emerging technologies in order that the engineering offers itself up as a career of choice for the young and hopeful graduates.

This is because modern engineers responsible for building products of relevance must have global vision and awareness about the product range and the requirements of the emerging new world, according to Dr T.R. Gopalakrishnan Nair, winner of the PARAM Award for the best parallel computing network in India in 1992 as well as a senior member of the IEEE (The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers).

This would require that the training and education system are accordingly fine-tuned, he said while delivering a talk on `Engineering career - In Transition' hosted by the Institution of Engineers here.

Every region in the country must identify its own strengths and resources and allow professionals to exploit them to the maximum. A least 30 per cent of the academic effort must be expended in the frontiers of technology. All realms of professional excellence - quality, reliability, adequateness, economic viability, frontier knowledge and ethical values - must gain recognition in the process. To be in the forefront, the education system must undergo consistent and perpetual change leading to updated knowledge and skills. Future professionals must be equipped with the right tools and vision to apply the knowledge.

A change in perception is required for achieving excellence in engineering. Academic and professional training systems must reorient themselves with global perceptions and career opportunities, and think beyond geographical limitations and cultural inhibitions. They should as well seek to observe ethics and retain value systems for ringing in a sustainable society. An ideal academic programme should seek to inculcate leadership values, create new knowledge, be adequately motivating and promote discoveries, Dr Nair said.

Mere possession of a degree would not be enough. Opportunities in science and technology are becoming more and more global in their reach. A reading of the Indian scenario reveals that only IT professionals are adequately trained, and possess the skills to go global.

Engineers of the 21st century will have numerous opportunities in discovery, innovation and sustained learning. The emerging fields will evolve suitably and necessitate a continuous learning process.

The three promising fields are nano-technology, biotechnology and information technology. Information Techno- logy, according to Dr Nair, will become a field of unimaginable complexity with domain specific knowledge and properties.

Self-organising, self-healing and self-reconfiguring systems are set to emerge, which will ask for support and care from engineers. Autonomic features will evolve more and more in systems.

Autonomous systems will conquer every application from home appliances to space colonies and the engineering skills to deal with them will become truly global in the years to come.

In the 1980s, information technology opened up the floodgates for information flow across countries in business and technology.

Knowledge and skills are pervading seamlessly now in the domains of electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering than ever before.

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