Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Mr. P. Sriram is currently working as the Chairman of Chennai Institute of Technology and the Founding Managing Director of M.K. group of companies. Having been born in a poor agriculture family, he had to go through many hardships such as covering long distances on bicycles for education after working with his parents in farms or not having enough money for education. But being a bright student who was never afraid to work hard he completed his AMIE in Mechanical Engineering while working in different companies, one after another.
Mr. P. Sriram was very instrumental in developing those process and products, which were earlier not manufactured in our country, rather imported, which helped in reducing the cost of the products in the Indian market. With his strong urge and sincere efforts, he endeavored to take his business to great heights and new ventures.
According to Mr. Sriram, an Engineer has to be a solution provider to the problems of the mankind. Noticing sheer lack of talent and skills among the graduates who couldn't meet the industry expectation, he decided to set up a finishing school program for the graduates. He established Chennai Institute of Technology (CIT), an Engineering college affiliated to Anna University and approved by AICTE, New Delhi in the year 2010. His dedicated efforts to this initiative have driven the institution ranked among the top 10 institutions in Tamil Nadu within a period of 8 years.
One of the most important brainchildren of Mr. Sriram is the establishment of Innovative Learning Program (ILP) center within the campus. Through ILP, a platform has been created for students to interact with Industry, engage in Industrial Projects and consultancy works, Start-up on their own product, get trained on Industry tool, engage in Research and Innovation, which can transform a student to true engineer, which has been the Motto of Chennai Institute of Technology “ Transforming Lives”. All the programs are complemented by a foreign industry/institute collaboration from China, Japan, and Germany, which offers language training, study abroad, internship and exchange opportunity to the students.
Mr. P. Sriram’s experience in the education industry
Having over 20 years’ service in the manufacturing industry, my intent of starting a higher education institution was to nurture the young aspirants in fulfilling the expectations of the industry, support entrepreneurial interest and develop engineers with true skills and value. I remain true to my vision and believe that proper education is the most powerful and fundamental tool to development and growth, which makes me treat it as an industry which produces quality products for the well-being of mankind.
Challenges faced by Mr. Sriram as the Chairman or Director of Chennai Institute of Technology
There was good support from the Industry and education fraternity to my vision, but at my earlier stage I struggled to find the right balance between academics and imparting industry-relevant skills due to lack of flexibility, constraint in time for content delivering beyond the syllabus and in establishing industry-relevant infrastructure.
Mr. Sriram on how his curriculum ensures best practices of the industry
Over a period of time, we were able to find the right balance in blending the expectations of the Industry into the academic by adding value-added programs. Also, by providing an environment and platform for the students to engage themselves as a team, engage in real time problem statements from industry, engaging in national & international internship, participating in industry competitions, build their creativity into innovative products, providing them a good exposure and experiential based learning which meet industry practice and ensure a sustainable career.
Goals in Mr. Sriram’s mind for Chennai Institute of Technology
Just like an industry evolves and adapts to new and emerging technology, Education industry has also been evolving. I aim to be part of the change makers in the education industry having my short-term goal to be an autonomous institution, giving us the flexibility to induct best and innovative practices in education and pedagogy.
Mr. Sriram’s methods to ensure the quality of education in his institution
Chennai Institute of Technology has been in the limelight of education fraternity for its excellence in academics and industry association. We have a tried and tested system to ensure academic excellence with continuous feedback to the system to improve and improvise the changing scenario and target group.
The quality of education doesn't depend on the academic excellence alone. It is also associated with the technical and behavioral excellence of a student which is also important in making one’s career. These factors are also given attention to ensure the quality of education in Chennai Institute of Technology. Staying true to our motto “Transforming Lives”, we aim at creating ambassadors where all these three factors are the prime.
Mr. Sriram on how he builds a positive school culture or climate
Chennai Institute of Technology maintains an excellent interaction with all the stakeholders, where student, parent and teachers play a major role. A Parent expects a comfortable environment for their ward to learn which can earn them a great career and the institution to take full responsibility for that. A student expects to have a conducive environment with a certain level of freedom and teachers to be more approachable and open minded to their needs. A Teacher expects to have a comfortable zone for them to deliver, adapt the pedagogy changes and support from their peer group to be a mentor than a teacher.
The culture has changed and evolved in the institution over the period of time through continuous feedback to the system, driven by the discipline and culture of the Indian education system, inducing comfort, confidence among all the stakeholders. I constantly stay in touch with all the people to bring that comfort and positive environment in the Institution.
Mr. Sriram’s relationship with the students
Every day, I spend the majority of my time with students, meeting them individually or in the group to interact with them. Such interactions induce a lot of confidence among the students to share their thoughts with me and mine with them. Customer and customer service is the most important metric for growth and I take special care to deliver the best for their needs of making a great career and transformation of a responsible citizen.
Mr. Sriram views on the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Chennai Institute of Technology
As an Industry Connected Institution, Chennai Institute of Technology has a remarkable record in terms of placements for the students. Placements are not merely treated as getting a job for a graduate but intended to add value to the organization which in turn earns us the trust from all the stakeholders. To achieve that, Chennai Institute of Technology offers a lot of industry associated skill development program mapped with the technology and practices of the Industry.
We strongly believe that the future of hiring will not happen in campus but through professional forums, where students record of continuous practice, tests of skills are taken, which will accumulate their scores and will be the yardstick for any industry to look out for their resources irrespective of where he or she belongs to. Our skill development is focused to learn, practice and take challenges of trending and emerging technologies in the industry.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students by Mr. Sriram
There are opportunities all around for anyone to grab, no one has to wait or look out for it. Be passionate about whatever you wish to do for the well-being of the mankind and society.