Interview by Shivangi
A progressive and dynamic leader of the team of young engineers, Dr. Parag Jain, is the Director of RIT. An M.Tech and Ph.D. in computer science, he has the distinction of working as a research scholar under the guidance of internationally acclaimed emeritus Prof. Dr. S.C. Gupta, ex-Professor Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. He has thirty international and nine national research papers to his credit, which were published in reputed International & National Journals.
Apart from his administrative assignments, Dr. Jain is continuously contributing to academic and research pursuits wherein eight Ph.D. research scholars are researching under him in Uttarakhand Technical University. He has attended many International Conferences, Seminars, Workshops and Faculty Development Programmes on cloud computing, practical use of teaching tools in the classroom, and policy-based IP creation and management in IIT Roorkee.
Leading from the front, he motivated RIT students to go for immersive learning by doing innovative projects based upon the latest technologies. To prove that such an approach is truly adaptable, a couple of years back, the students were personally motivated and mentored by him to work on developing new solutions based on Texas Instruments’ devices. The project won the open-hearted appreciation in a national level competition, and he was bestowed with the trophy of “Best Mentor Award” for the innovative project directly by Texas Instruments.
Subsequently, a TI Lab was established at RIT campus through the active support of Texas Instruments which is now functioning as the Centre of Excellence and catering to the needs of the students working on the latest technologies.
Thoughts on the Education Industry
Education in India is truly undergoing rapid changes through the process of transformation and is now rife with the overtones of industry involving a focus on usefulness, efficacy, and perfection. The changes, as usual, entail new challenges, but of course, more challenges lead to new opportunities too, which make the educational sector the best industry to work in. My experience tells me to pull up my socks and bring forth the desired results even under not-so-favorable conditions, having the pressing needs to uplift the infrastructure and revamp the pedagogy by keeping pace with the global progress, particularly on the technological landscape.
Dr Jain’s Philosophy and Style of Leadership
At the foundation level, the philosophy of leadership must have the clarity of vision, the ability to take bold decisions, and firm determination to implement those decisions through careful monitoring and control. I believe that timely supervisory control by the top management will inspire and motivate the followers to accomplish the goals rather more effectively.
“While describing my leadership style, I need to assert that only a true leader can create another leader to match the tempo of your leadership style based on your beliefs, values, and priorities.”
Obviously, as a leader, if I am not able to create my substitute, I cannot grow further because the efficient monitoring and control of work progress in a planned manner is going to eat away a lot of my time, leaving minimal scope for me to upgrade my level of performance and effectiveness. On the hindsight, I still would have to keep on leading my team from the front.
Hurdles faced as the Director of RIT
There has always been a gap between the expectations of the industries and the performance level of the professionals being churned out of virtually all professional institutions in India. The reason behind this is that the institutions have to follow syllabi and pedagogy strictly according to the governing bodies, be it their concerned Universities, or a supervising government agency.
As the Director of RIT, I have strived to bridge this gap by understanding the present and forthcoming technological requirements of the blue-chip and other rising industries. We have introduced some easy ways to apprehend technical capsules, which the students can have and go through immersive learning. On the basis of their experiential learning, students can engage themselves in innovative projects to develop a leading edge in their imaginative domains.
Enhancing student-industry interaction at RIT
We are facilitating the interaction of RIT students with the established plant heads and CEOs of the industries so that students may get the chance to understand their modus operandi. While asking inquisitive questions, the thinking process of students is further stimulated and forces them to think out of the box.
We also expose our students to industrial environment by facilitating industrial visits to a gamut of industries, possibly having a heterogeneous structure involving a variety of technologies. Ideally, student-industry interaction must have mutual collaboration and we are doing just that by joining hands with some of the stalwarts having excellence in their domains at global level.
We earnestly believe that real progress can be made only by moving forward from the level of mutual consultation to meticulous research work in different sectors involving science, technology, industrial needs and the pedagogy to attain mutually beneficial objectives. To establish a well-oiled system, all the stakeholders from different domains described just above, need to come to a common understanding and contribute with the intention to create a win-win situation.
Dr. Jain on Time Management
Frankly speaking, synergizing to synchronize my efforts with the continuum of time passing at a set tempo, backed up by a fairly good work plan has helped me to create some free slots in my everyday schedule. Yes, I still have to cater to many interruptions, but by taking quick decisions, I try to keep the interruptions rather short.
I believe in delegating the tasks to the members of my team and empower them by delegating necessary authority also for taking bold decisions. So, most of the issues are handled by the subordinates and only the crucial issues, after passing an efficient but fast filtering network, need to be addressed by me directly. An effective feedback system keeps me apprised of all the developments, and of course, I can use the non-mask able interrupts to control the events directly, if a need is felt.
Establishing a relationship with students at RIT
I keep on meeting the students regularly and help them when they need my support. I have also set up different channels through which they can reach out to me. At my end, I ensure that most of their concerns are empathetically handled and rationally resolved. Still, all the decisions are implemented through proper channel and strings are not pulled directly by jumping the hierarchy.
Read about RIT Placement
Harmonious environment and diversity at RIT
The sensitivity of the cultural diversity and over prolonged existence of RIT, have created a harmonious environment at our campus. The campus is always bubbling with different techno-socio-activities, seminars, conferences, debates, quizzes, games and sports organized through active role of five different clubs of “Students Welfare Association of RIT” (SWAR).
These activities are organized directly by the students themselves, where seniors encourage the juniors to lead the events, with proper intervention of respective mentors. We facilitate frequent interaction among all the students and encourage friendship among the students cutting across their ethnicity, caste, creed, nationality, and culture. All major functions of the students are celebrated with lots of fanfare, and keep the moods of the students upbeat and enjoyable.
Carving a niche at RIT
I think the credit for it goes to the aluminise of RIT who have worked as our brand ambassadors and played a crucial role in putting up the image of RIT on a high pedestal throughout the nation. It is satiating for us to realize that even the students of other countries are also choosing RIT as their final destination for higher studies. At the grass-root level, adherence to ethics, unbiased management, and commitment to an excellent education has helped RIT immensely to carve out a niche for its popularity.
Touching the Zenith
In a rapidly changing environment related to higher studies in professional courses, it may not be appropriate to rigidly fix up the goals, as we may need to redefine some of them during the next five years. However, the targets set by us so far do include:
- Develop the capacity to explain the material plainly through intensive laboratory and field work.
- Upgrading the facility to engage the individual students at their respective level of understanding
- Strengthen our ability and competence to improvise and adapt to new demands.
- Revamp teaching methods and academic tasks that would motivate the students to learn actively, responsibly and cooperatively in groups.
- Putting focus on key concepts and clarity of learning rather than cramming and completing the syllabi.
- Assessing the student’s progress objectively and to provide stringent feedback to them with motivation to improve further.
- To make the learning enjoyable and fun.
Suggestion the youth and aspiring students
Our sincere advice to the students is that while approaching an institution for higher studies they should ensure that they have aptly revised their entry-level courses. This will immensely help the students to achieve their goals and also perceive the advanced concepts that underlie higher education to become a complete professional.
Let us remember that their learning, creative attitude, and hard work only will decide their future.