Interview by Kritika Gupta
Dr. Keshav N. Nandurkar is designated as the Principal of K.K. Wagh Institute of Engineering Education & Research, Nashik. He has nearly three decades of experience in the education industry. His qualification includes – Ph.D (Mechanical), M.E. and B.E both in Production.
Till date, he has guided over 50 UG and 8 PG production projects. Recognized as PhD guide by various Universities, five candidates have completed PhD and four students are currently registered for PhD under his guidance. He has published 29 Research papers in various journals and has presented 73 papers in various national and international conferences. He is a proud recipient of Jeevan Gaurav Puraskar and Shikshak Gaurav Puraskar as well.
Views on education industry and what makes it the best
I have been working in the education industry for about three decades now. I thoroughly enjoy working in this industry because teaching is my passion. Earlier, I used to work for the manufacturing industry, but I found the education sector more appropriate for my personality. For me, working in this sector gives me an opportunity to interact and deal with young minds. These children are naïve and full of enthusiasm. As an academician, teacher or professor, you get a chance to be a part of their journey in achieving their dreams.
Every year you come across a new batch of students with new ideas. So, it is interesting to work with them. No other industry will provide such an opportunity or chance. Besides this, you also get the opportunity to learn new techniques and tools that make your teaching more effective. If you are a person interested in reading, learning new things, carrying out research in the area of interest, the education sector is the best industry to work with.
Leadership style and philosophy
First of all, I want to make it clear that I have not attended any formal leadership program. I feel that my leadership style is very close to participative decision making. I have learnt some leadership lessons by observing some of the great leaders in industry and academia. Apart from that, reading books on industry leaders and few autobiographies has helped as well.
I am fortunate to have progressive management to support my endeavors. I believe in leading by example. I have worked at various levels in academics, so I fully understand the difficulties in carrying out the assigned tasks. I always try to identify the talent among employees and motivate them to participate in various events/activities to build future leaders of the world.
Challenges faced as the Principal of K. K. Wagh Institute
Being Principal of K. K. Wagh Institute of Engineering Education and Research, Nashik is a prestigious position. Running an institute with more than 4000 students and 400 staff members is not an easy task. The college works in 2 shifts, and the work continues till late evening almost every day. Since I stay on the campus, I also take care of the guests arriving for various events in our institute Guest House.
In the starting, the significant challenges were related to starting new courses and getting the courses accredited. By working systematically towards fulfilling the AICTE/ University norms, I was able to add six PG programs in engineering besides MBA & MCA courses to our institute. We had to face tough committees for the same, but we were able to get five programs accredited by NBA and also to get to ‘A’ Grade by NAAC.
Apart from these, getting connected with the industries is also one of the biggest challenges. But, through our alumni members, we are constantly able to connect with them and are placed in a platinum category by AICTE-CII survey of industry-linked institutes in 2016 and 2018.
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Journey to achieving the set goals K.K Wagh Society
Earlier, the institute intake was stagnant for quite some time. After I took over as Principal, we made sincere efforts to expand the activities. Management planned to increase the infrastructure as per the AICTE requirements.
With qualified staff, we started new PG programs in Engineering. It was for the first time that an unaided engineering institute started ME courses in Nashik. We also added management courses such as MBA and MCA. As many students were interested in MBA and MCA courses, we got excellent response to all these courses. After this, our institute was again pioneered in starting the Ph.D. program under the University of Pune.
We got Research Centres in four departments – Production, Civil, Electrical and Computer Engineering as we had recognized Ph.D. guides in all these departments. We also have some guides from other institutes associated with our research centers. So far, 14 candidates have completed their Ph.D. from our institute, and over 20 candidates are pursuing their research. Due to these PG courses, a good research culture has been developed in the institute. Many research projects got funding from BCUD, Pune University, AICTE and DST, which has resulted in quality publications in reputed journals.
We also provide funding for student projects. Many innovative ideas have been supported. Some of those have resulted in the filing of patents, and some of them were converted into startups. To take the institute to greater heights, we are planning to introduce modern technologies in the teaching-learning process, which will prepare our students to face global competition effectively.
Curriculum ensuring best practices of the industry
Our institute is currently affiliated to Savitribai Phule Pune University. We follow the curriculum prescribed by the University for all the programs. As a part of our accreditation process, we identify the gaps in the curriculum and try to bridge the gap by adopting innovative methods. We conduct industry-oriented seminars, invite industry experts regularly who interact with students and make them aware of the latest technologies used by industries.
Apart from this, regular industry tours are arranged and also student projects are sponsored by industries which provides them an opportunity to work on live projects. We also collect real-life problems from the industry, which are given to students as assignments. Industry experts also assess these assignments.
As a member of the NBA, what is your view on an ideal educational institute in India
National Board of Accreditation (NBA) has its criteria for the assessment of any engineering institute. Nowadays, we find that many institutes do not fulfill the pre-qualifier criteria set up by the NBA. This is a significant concern in today’s context as very few institutes will be accredited, and they will not be able to start new courses as per AICTE directives.
In my opinion, an ideal institute should not merely fulfill the AICTE or NBA criteria. The institute should be autonomous and able to design its curriculum along with the assessment method. Students should get more practical exposure, and teachers should use modern teaching-learning techniques. The faculty should be empowered to take decisions related to academic matters. There should be the least interference by the regulating authorities, and institutes should be allowed to hire the best faculty anywhere from the globe.
Methods opted to build a positive relationship with the students from different cultures
KKWIEER Nashik always gets students from a diverse background. Many of them are coming from rural areas and find it difficult to adjust to the city culture. For such students, we organize orientation programs as soon as they get admitted to our institutes. We are doing such programs long before the introduction of the ‘Induction Program’ for fresher by AICTE. Freshers are given a welcome kit that provides them with information about all departments and sections. Their visits to different departments are arranged to acquaint them within the working of the institute. Strict discipline is maintained in the campus, and no ‘ragging’ is allowed. There is an anti-ragging committee that talks to the students, especially from hostels and helps them to settle in their studies as early as possible.
After that, we have an active Mentor System where a group of 15-20 students is assigned to one teacher. This teacher is like a guardian to the students. He/she is continuously in touch with students and understands their problems. All problems coming up during such mentor meetings are solved on priority by the administration. Besides this arrangement, there is a professional counselor who helps the student in case of distress.
As for me, I am available 24x7 for the students as I stay in the Campus. Students are free to approach me at any hours and get their problems solved.
Placement Opportunities offered at K. K. Wagh Institute
KKWIEER has an active Placement Cell, which dedicatedly works towards enhancing the industry connection as well as grooming the students. Every year over 100 reputed companies visit the campus for recruitment. Besides this, students also participate in pool campus drives arranged at various places. Every year, we try to ensure that all students registered for placement get excellent job opportunities. For the last two years, our few students have been recruited by foreign companies, and they are successfully working abroad.
Our alumni members are the best ambassadors for us. They always recommended our students to the company where they are working. The alumni members who are entrepreneurs also prefer our students whenever a vacancy arises.
In the coming period, we will not only concentrate on placement in India but explore opportunities in foreign countries. We are already training our students in foreign languages so that they can successfully compete at the global level. We are planning to leverage modern technology to groom our students on all aspects of the recruitment process, and I am sure we will be able to provide the best placement opportunities for our students shortly.
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Suggestions to the upcoming youth
In my view, the current youth is full of enthusiasm and is very ambitions. They love to do things differently and in a smart way. My only suggestion to them is to understand their potential, understand, research each profession and then choose the most appropriate one as per their interest. Also, they must know that the competition is only going to rise, so they must equip themselves and keep themselves updated with the ongoing and upcoming trends.
They must set a goal, focus on it and work hard towards it!