Interview by Kritika Gupta
Dr S. Sudhakara Reddy is currently positioned as the Principal at Malla Reddy Engineering College, Hyderabad. He is an experienced individual with over 3 decades of experience in the education industry.
His educational qualification includes B.Tech degree in mechanical engineering from Kakatiya University Warangal, M.Tech degree in design and production engineering from NIT Warangal and M.B.A. in human resource management from Dr. B.R. Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.
He obtained his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from S.V. University Tirupathi. In addition to that, His area of research includes Tribology, CAD/CAM & Advanced Manufacturing Technology and He has authored three textbooks and published 20 technical papers in national, international conferences and journals.
Shifting from industry, I entered the education field way back in the late eighties and it has been over three decades. The field developing gradually, year by year from the initial lecturer position to the Principal of a reputed autonomous college now. The journey so far has been wonderful, challenging and rewarding as well. Engineers establish the nation and we mold the engineers.
This absolutely feels encouraging a sense of satisfaction that no other field/industry hopefully brings. This is the best reason I believe, people are still attracted to this field.
Significant challenges faced as being the Principal of MREC
Allow me to present some history of Malla Reddy Engineering College (Autonomous), Secunderabad here before I acknowledge this question. MREC (A) started in the year 2002, got NBA accredited for the three eligible branches in the year 2008 and the college got NAAC accredited with 'A' grade in the year 2010. In the year 2011, the college was granted Autonomy by the affiliating University Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad.
When I assumed the responsibility of Principal of MREC (A) in the month of April 2012, the college was in its baby steps trying to establish and sustain the autonomy. An autonomous college has to take care of framing the syllabus by conducting the Board of Studies meetings as per the guidelines, establish the policies for conducting the assessment and maintain the confidentiality in paper setting, evaluation and other similar key areas. This needs dedicated teamwork. Every teaching and non-teaching staff involved should set their best. This was the most crucial challenge. With the encouragement from the management and support from the staff, we could confront this challenge comfortably. In addition reorganization of the college, escorting the students on to the discipline track and establishing a proper hierarchy in the day to day administration was few more challenges in the initial days of assuming the post.
The competition in the market puts Industry always on toes, looking for continuous up gradation of knowledge. We at MREC (A) have a pleasant idea about this requirement of the industry as we have MoUs with industry giants like IBM, HP, etc. The regular interaction with the industry personnel keeps us educated about the requirements of the industry. We adopted a four-pronged strategy to handle this issue.
We involve an industry expert in our BoS while framing the syllabus. Moreover, we seek the opinions of the other industry experts with whom we interact on the frequent basis as a part of our MoUs.
We believe in the concept of 'Train the trainers'. We send the faculty to industry for getting trained in the practices/technologies used in the industry. They, in turn, train the students in the campus.
We inspire and encourage students to acquire emerging technologies from online portals like MOOCs, NPTEL etc.
In conclusion, an industry summer internship is mandatory for all the students right from the first year onwards. This provides a very great opportunity for the students to observe the active culture and working practices of the industry.
Essential skills that an aspiring student must possess precisely
Washington Accord prescribes 12 graduate attributes for an aspiring Engineering student. Out of them, I personally believe an Engineering student should possess a sound fundamental knowledge of problem-solving skills, social responsibility and finally attitude to learning lifelong so as to update his knowledge continuously.
A mandatory 3-week induction programme
AICTE has made it mandatory to start the 3-week induction programme for all the undergraduate engineering students in their first year. I believe the way it is planned and implemented at MREC (A) operates them to the college. The programme consistently keeps them guessing which activity is the best among all. Every activity/task done during the induction programme has its own dimension, its own edge over the other involving the students to their core.
Establishing a harmonious relation with students
An induction programme provides a basis for establishing harmonious relations between the faculty and students. The faculty will be allocated a group of students with whom they will be coordinating all through the induction programme. HoDs plan multiple interactions with the students during the induction programme. In conclusion, as head of the institution, I too make sure I interact with students of every branch at least once during the induction programme. Dean Humanities and sciences, Dean Student affairs are given the responsibility of guiding the students all through their campus life as undergraduate engineering students.
Growth of students through placement opportunities available at MREC
The eligible students get absolutely good placement opportunities with salary packages as high as 7 lakh rupees per annum and an average pay package of about 3.5 lakh rupees per annum. The 'Train the trainer's strategy started yielding good results in recent times. Moreover, we pioneered few things like - we obtain the first in the state of Telangana to have MoU with HP for implementing training programmes on DevOps their novel technology that is going to encompass the industry in the foreseeable future.
An encouraging leadership style
I believe in the concept of Teamwork. I strongly believe in the fact that behind every successful leader there is a capable and loyal team working synchronously with the ideology of the leader. Therefore, I encourage autonomy at every level, trying to mold the heads of department, sections in charge and few senior faculties as mini leaders. The strength of the leader lies in the strength of the team. Teamwork divides the work but doubles the success.
Suggestions for current youth and the aspiring students
Believe in yourselves. Self-confidence represents the key to success. Honesty and perseverance are essential both in the academics and in the professional career. Wish all the aspiring engineering students good luck and great success in their endeavors.
The practice of self-learning and continuous learning is the need of the hour for the youth in the continuously changing technological world. In conclusion, to conclude, I recommend 4 Ds for success. Desire, Dedication, Discipline and Direction are essential for achieving anything by the youth.