Mr. Agnishwar Jayaprakash is the Vice Chairman at Agni College of Technology, Chennai. In his interview he takes us through his journey in the education industry and highlights the key factors that keep him connected to this sector. The very fact that there are still millions of kids out there without access to basic education makes him stick to the education sector. Being a man of principles he highlights his leadership style and focuses on the skills required to make an effective leader. Progressing down the line, he explains how he displayed his skills of networking that today; the college has access to international exposure. The institute ensures that every student entering is honed in many co-curricular activities. Additionally, he highlights how the institute is equipped to provide hands-on training to ensure our students are developing holistically. Putting emphasis on the digital factors, he explains how the technology has prospered and why each student should be well-versed with technology. In the later segment of the interview he reflects upon the values of the institution and how the institute upholds the values of the students. The institution focuses on overcoming the financial barriers for the students from economically weak sections. On a concluding note, he advises students to invest their time in learning and coming up with innovative ideas.
The thought of making every corner accessible to education keeps me connected to this industry
The very fact that there are still millions of kids out there without access to basic education, let alone higher education is something that shakes me at my core. I want to ensure there are no obstacles in someone’s way in accessing quality education, and this thought constantly keeps me in touch with the realities of the education sector. We should never take education for granted.
A good leader in my opinion should also be a good listener and have a lot of integrity
I focus on leading by example. I try understanding the strengths and weaknesses of my team members and guide them accordingly to bring out the best in them personally and professionally. I enjoy mentoring those working with me and also ensure that they do not get complacent. Complacency breeds stagnation and that will hinder one’s professional and personal growth, so I ensure I provide the right environment that fosters healthy challenges and a positive competitive spirit too. I always have my team’s backs, I ensure that their voices are heard and a good leader should also be able to trust their direct reports enough to delegate work and I am glad I am backed by such a team.
Networking and international exposure during my educational experiences has allowed me to learn from the best
I have been immensely blessed to have had international exposure during my educational experiences abroad. This networking has allowed me to interact and learn from the best of the best in their fields and has given me the liberty to bring in such stellar professionals to offer their ideas and guidance on improving the quality of education in India. I am currently even working with Discovery Channel to help create an active learning environment online and I am constantly focused on bringing out innovative solutions to improving education. I am always open to learning more and this means bringing in the best of talents to strategize and I don't ever compromise on that quality.
I wanted to ensure that every student entering is honed in many co-curricular and extra-curricular activities
When I first took over as the VC I was very particular that I did not want Agni College of Technology to be just another engineering college, and I most definitely did not want the degree conferred at the end to be a mere certificate of graduation. I wanted to ensure that every student entering is honed in many co-curricular and extra- curricular activities as well. I wanted them trained in aptitude, communication and technical skills. And till date our curriculum ensures that 48% of the total classroom sessions over the 4 years are all related to industrial and soft skill training and development. I also wanted to ensure a lot of job makers come out of Agni College and created the startup ecosystem of 300 startups, where 300 startups every year, headed by women CEOs come up with ideas to provide solutions for various economic, social, political and technical problems faced by state governments. Upon approval I even provide the resources for incubation and incorporation of the companies. My vision is to make this a national project and also an international project in the next 5-8 years with the United Nations SDGs 2030 needing to be achieved soon.
Our institute is equipped to provide hands-on training to ensure our students are developing holistically
A student studying at Agni College will not just be an engineer; they are honed to become well rounded, highly trained and skilled technocrats of the future and technopreneurs. We focus on hands on training and always ensure that our students and professor step up to the challenges that are being faced. In fact, our college has been a hub of over a dozen COVID19 related solutions and innovations, many of which are being used across our country today to combat the pandemic and more recently, even the locust attacks in India.
The students are given relevant exposure from industry experts of different segments
We have 20 industry powered labs with global giants like Siemens, L&T and many companies like TVS, SpiceJet, Escavor, etc, that are offering their expertise in running our labs and these training programmes are integrated into the regular academic curriculum. Thereby, ensuring par excellent industry training for every student. Every student is encouraged and supported to take up internships starting from the very first semester as well to gain direct industry knowledge and exploring their interests over the years.
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I want my students to start thinking globally and acting locally in the environment they belong to
Understanding that we all have just one world and ultimately we are all global citizens is the need of the hour. I am working on a lot of R&D initiatives that will help my brothers and sisters studying at Agni to provide solutions for international issues especially the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030. This includes mainly coming up with drone based technologies to combat climate change and using drones as tools to improve afforestation and green cover all around the globe starting with India. And one of our in house startups Garuda Aerospace is working on these projects and also providing sanitization solutions to combat this pandemic
Digital is the new buzz word and the way forward for the education sector to strive
Everything is becoming digital, and given this pandemic situation adapting to changes digitally is the way forward. Lack of access to such digital tools and disproportionate access to such digital platforms is a big challenge I see. However with our PM’s focus on digital India I hope that everyone has access to the Internet and digital classrooms can be set up and every child can get access to quality education through such portals.
Our institution focuses on overcoming the financial barriers for the students from economically weak section
Financial obstacles should ideally never stand in the way of chasing someone’s academic dreams and ambitions. I have personally focused on providing scholarships to some bright minds from various small districts and rural areas by identifying such knowledgeable children through our Ignite India programme and this programme covers over 7000 schools in India. So Agni College is home to a diverse crowd and will always be open to enthusiastic curious minds from all over the country regardless of where they come from and what their financial backgrounds are.
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Students should invest their time in learning and coming up with innovative ideas
Do not take your time for granted. Times like this pandemic, we realise time is being stolen from us and we truly have to keep adapting and be dynamic in order to survive and thrive. Keep your curiosity alive, constantly focus on solutions, there is nothing called a stupid idea, the seemingly simplest of ideas can truly change the world, do not under estimate the power of your ideas.