Interview by Yash Panchal
Dr. I.K Khanna currently holds the position of Group Director at TIET Jabalpur. His educational qualifications include B.Sc, BE (Hons) Mechanical Engineering, M.Tech in Production & Industrial Engineering from IIT New Delhi and Ph.D. in System Management from IIT Delhi. He has also worked as Lecturer, Reader, Professor, Additional Director and Principal previously.
Dr. Khanna’s research papers have been published in 01 international and 7 national journals. He has presented his papers in 06 international and 60 national level conferences/seminars. He holds membership of various professional bodies. He has also received many accolades and awards in his academic and professional career.
Dr. Khanna shares his experience in the education industry
I have been in the education industry since the last 52 years and I have got varied experiences of students, work culture and professional institutes. I started with Government Engineering college in Jabalpur, back in July 1966 and I have worked in various Government Engineering colleges in Jabalpur, Sagar, Ujjain and Bilaspur before joining this present institute as founder principal on August 1, 2004. It gives a lot of satisfaction if you groom engineers from students so that they can do something creative in their life. So, I have been associated with young students for the past 52 years and I have seen their progress. It gives me immense pleasure if one receives recognition outside.
Leadership style of Dr. Khanna
Leadership should be both autocratic as well as democratic. One cannot work as an autocrat or democrat. At times you have to be tough, at times, you have to be lenient depending upon the situation, depending upon the students you are caring about. So, one has to take some tough decisions at times but when it comes to some leniency, that also has to be done because one cannot be absolutely democratic or absolutely autocratic. So, leadership requires a mix of these two, so that is very necessary in the present era.
Tackling the challenge of motivating students
In general, every professional engineering college is facing a lot of difficulties because the students who are coming are not motivated. They have come to engineering college because not all of them want to become engineers similar to the story like 3 idiots. Students want to continue their studies somehow because of their parents or father being an engineer. So, it’s very difficult to handle students who don’t want engineering as a profession. We cater to such students and we try to motivate them so that once they have come to engineering college, technical education should be their first and foremost motto. One good thing has been done starting this year by AICTE and our university that engineers who come to college for the first time, they have to be given a three-week induction program in which they will have all other activities except their regular teaching.
Ensuring the best practice of industry through an advanced curriculum
That is a big question because we have to follow the syllabus prescribed to us by our University - Rajiv Gandhi Rajiv Proudyogiki Vishwavidyalaya. But apart from that, we want to give certain things. From this year, we have a provision for our final and pre-final year students. We are going to teach theory and other subjects in the first half, and in the second half, we will be conducting some classes like aptitude, soft skills, communication skills, preparation for competitive exams and so forth. So, for that, we have faculties and we will get experts from outside so that students retain their interest in engineering and they continue to learn and enhance their employable capabilities.
Changes noticed in the education industry and the skill set required by a corporate in a student
A lot of changes have taken place because the students think they can get everything on the internet but they don’t give importance to the experience of the faculty which can only be obtained if they have one to one interaction. To prepare for the industry, they should have good technical skills and communication skills. If they think, they can do everything in Hindi, that is not possible because then they have limited scope. But if they have command over other languages, mostly English. Written English, communicative English, expressions, soft skills are very important for overall development and to become more employable. We always go on hearing that only 10-15% engineers are employable, so we have to work on that and the students have to take that up seriously. So, they must prepare themselves to get selected.
Defining an ideal school environment
The ideal school environment should have studies, enhancing the students’ knowledge, skills, logical skills, etc. must be their first priority and this priority can only be obtained if they are not distracted by so many social websites. Students nowadays are mostly absorbed in these social activities, which is not very good for the students. They have their whole life for that, but in these four years, they must be dedicated to their studies. For that, they have to come to the college, attend the classes, attend whatever beyond syllabus that is offered to them, then only they will be successful. In an ideal situation, students should have this as their top priority, nothing else, except their studies, enhancing their knowledge and enhancing their analytic and synthetic skills.
Goals in mind for your institute for the next few years
I would like my institute to be one of the foremost institutes of technical education and for that, we have to work very hard because the entering students’ quality decides the outgoing students’ quality. So, if that it is to be improved, that means we have to prove ourselves that we are good, that we are better than others. We have to improve gradually and that requires a lot of dedicated effort on part of the administration, on part of the management and above all, on part of the faculty and students. So, we want to have a good reputation as one of the forerunners in technical education because we have a great campus, we have beautiful surroundings but the students are the pillars of any institution and they have to prove themselves.
Suggestions for the current youth
Once again, it takes me to the question - what should we have? I always emphasize that the students should always have sincerity of purpose because as students, they must be sincere and honest towards themselves. Another thing they require is punctuality because if they go out in the industry and are late by a minute, they are going to suffer, it affects their career, it affects their profile. So, they have to be punctual, sincere, honest and be competitive. Their competition should not be from others but should have competition from self. So, they must carry on this process which is called Kaizen- slow but continuous improvement. That is very necessary as improvement cannot come overnight, you get it gradually. If you are down falling, if you are going down, you can do good immediately, but to improve, you have to have lot of patience persistent efforts.