Saturday, August 18, 2007

What are we producing? One-dimensional engineers?

'We need managers not tech coolies' economic times 16 Aug, 2007 Gouri Agtey Athale, TNN
Did you think the Renaissance man died out with the Renaissance? Or that the all-roundedness of such a person is not relevant in today’s tech world? Vineet Nayyar, vice-chairman and MD, Tech Mahindra, believes it is critical to have all-rounded people resources as India’s tech sector seeks to move up the value chain. They should be able to write code and advise clients on what and how they should deploy the technology. He spoke with ET.
You talk of the Renaissance engineer as being critical in today’s industry. Why?
It is my personal passion to improve the quality of professional education in the country, especially in the segment that we need for our software services company, the engineering college student. We have cramming schools, where parents thrash the child to ensure he or she gets the 99% required for entry into an engineering college. Four years later, that student is ready to start writing code. What are we producing? One-dimensional engineers? As we move up the value chain, we need managers not just tech coolies. We need business advisers, a Renaissance engineer who can interact on business, technology, the company, art, music, etc., and be an all-round personality. Look at the Columbia University graduate. The foundation course requires you to learn Latin or Greek, history, literature. That’s how they get well rounded people. How can we compete with the Accentures and the likes (we are competing but could do better) if we do not produce people of that quality? With the government’s Byzantine rules, why would anyone from the private sector want to put up a college?
How do you expect to produce such a change and bridge the gap?
We intend to bridge this gap through setting up engineering colleges. We are planning to set up five or six engineering colleges, although we will set up three to begin with. These will be in Pune, Goa and Chandigarh. The Mahindras own the land in Pune and Goa and we will lease land in Chandigarh, where the Punjab government is very keen. Yes, we will tie up with a premier US-based educational institute for the curriculum. Those institutes are very keen to tie up, too. We could start tomorrow but we need clearances and those are taking time.

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