Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Dr. N. Nagarajan is the Principal of CIET Coimbatore. He has B.Tech. and M.E. degrees in Electronics Engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology, Chennai. Later, he obtained his Ph.D. degree from Anna University, Chennai in “Faculty of Information and Communication Engineering” during the year 2006. He has total teaching experience of more than 30 years in various reputed Engineering colleges viz., KonguEngg. College, Sri Krishna College of Engg. and Tech., Sri Ramakrishna Engg. College, etc.
Dr. Nagarajan has published more than 75 papers in International Journals and 25 papers in National and International Conferences. He has supervised 16 Ph.D.’s and 2 M.Tech (By Research) scholars. He is a reviewer for many international journals including ‘The Scientific world’, ‘IJICT’, ‘WSEAS’. He has developed various research centres in association with different organizations including AICTE. He was also a Member of the Academic Council of Anna University, Chennai .
Experience of working in the education sector
I started my career in 1984 at KSRM College of Engineering, Kadapa, Andhra Pradesh. One day a few students approached me for help to teach them Microprocessors. As I could not sacrifice my regular working hours with them, I asked them to come at 8 am to the college. They responded positively. It only started with 3 students, but within a week, the whole class started attending my lecture at 8 am. It was a memorable moment and I became very a passionate teacher.
In 1995, I joined Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College. I was taking classes for the first batch of students. This is another batch I cannot forget in my life. The students’ were wonderful. After two decades, during their alumni get together they called me and honored me. These two instances made me say that educational institutions are the best industry to work with.
A leadership style of giving freedom to the subordinates
A leader leading any organization, be it an educational institution or industry or even a country for that matter, should be gentle and soft in nature. He should not intimidate his subordinates; he should understand their problems, difficulties, and grievances, At the same time, he should be strict (not harsh) when they commit errors. As a leader of my institute, I give freedom to my subordinates to express their views and implement their ideas if they are acceptable.
Challenge of handling the scarcity of qualified staff
When I assumed the office as Principal, there was a scarcity for qualified staff with Ph.D. So, we encouraged our staff to go for research degrees and many of our staff responded positively. I have supervised and produced 16 PhDs and some of them are working in our institution. At present, each department is headed by a doctorate and some of them have received DST funds worth in crores for their research projects.
An adaptable curriculum
Our college is affiliated to Anna University. Hence, we have to follow the syllabus of the Anna University. However, the current syllabus covers every aspect of industry requirement. In case of any new technique or programming language is demanded by a particular industry we organize crash courses to facilitate the same.
Providing placement opportunities to the students and pushing the envelope further
When I assumed office as Principal, the college had only a few PG courses and no Ph.D. courses. Also, we had not received many funded projects and were not accredited by NAAC or NBA. After assuming office as Principal, we have received grants worth 15 crore rupees. A Technology Business Incubator in IoT, SEED fund, Solar Energy development are a few examples. Many new ME and Ph.D. courses were introduced. We have also been accredited by NAAC with A grade.
We also give prime importance for Placement like any other institution. But we go one step ahead and provide finishing school program for third-year students after completing their sixth-semester examinations which will make them ready for the placement when they enter the seventh semester. In the finishing school program, we train them in aptitude, logical reasoning, and communication skills, apart from technical skills, so that they are ready when the companies come for interviews. In the concluded year, our students faced 60+ companies both on and off campus and 450+ offers were received with the highest package of Rs.7.5 lakh per annum. Besides this, we are sending many students for internships to the companies in their relevant field while studying third and final year.
A friendly relation with the students
In our college, both management and the principal maintain student-friendly atmosphere so that students can approach them easily for their grievances. Besides this, the Principal conducts a class committee every month to interact with students personally. Students can boldly tell their problems, both academic and non-academic. In CIET, our students are the brand ambassadors because most of the students join CIET after receiving the feedback from them. Even many of their siblings prefer to study here after observing the knowledge imparting methods and green atmosphere, love and affection shown by the institute to their elders.
Goals to achieve in the coming time
Our college is not yet accredited by NBA and we are in the process of renewing the NAAC accreditation. And at present, the students’ learning levels are very low. These are the few challenges to be met immediately.
Suggestions for the youth
The students should be passionate in whatever field they choose to study. It should not be from an intuition or just because his/her friend has chosen or parent’s advice. He/she should understand his/her strengths and weaknesses. For example, if one is not good enough or not interested in Mathematics, then Engineering is not their cup of tea, just like, one who is afraid of seeing a dead body or seeing blood, cannot dream for MBBS.
On the other hand, they should be polite and obedient to their parents, teachers, and elders. They should not be addicted to modern technologies such as mobile, Internet, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp etc.It will definitely spoil their careers.