Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making Better Civil Engineers!

The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change…Carl Rogers

Carl Ransom Rogers was an influential American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology. What I respect about all such names is the simplest way they define the most complex terms. Like here Carl has defined Education & its exact role in our life! Recently when I was been part of a team of personnel’s who has been invited to design or define the course of Diploma in Civil Engg, I remembered these words about education & learning. Many as usual will wonder what’s relation of this terminology with our core topic i.e. Real estate or Construction Industry. Well for that we have to go through the current scene of the Industry.
Construction Industry is one of the largest employments generating industry of the country & it’s one of basic infrastructure making front of the developing country like ours. Take it making of homes or building structures like roads, dams or factories we need huge man & machine power & then we need people, trained or technically skilled people to supervise this man & machine power. And in the context what’s the scene? On one side we have hundreds of engineering as well polytechnic colleges of which seats are remaining vacant & on other side the construction industry is continuously in shortage of technically qualified manpower!

Some where it’s high time for the education which now also has become an industry; to understand the needs of construction industry & change the way they are manufacturing their product i.e. skilled qualified engineers! To that meeting there were personals from construction industry as well education field & the discussion was mainly revolving around what kind of changes are needed to be incorporated in the course so as we can produce the engineers who can be of real use of the industry. Agreed no one expect any fresh fellow from the college however good it may be to know all the work techniques at the site. As field work is something which has to be learn at site itself but what minimum is expected from a technically qualified person is to minimize the time he takes to adopt the actual work in field. Somewhere the gap between the expectation of construction industry from the young engineers & their output in the work is widening & that’s why people are wary to take fresher’s; which is not a good sign for the academics! As if no one is ready to absorb the fresher’s then how they will get good experience? Again experience is something which you learn & use it to deliver the better results & not just the years you have put it! For me experience is to get adopted to change & use it for doing the job in more improved way which in end will be in benefit of the output!
Here is where role of professionals in construction industry is important in designing the course or topics in the academics of civil engineering. The industry experts showed concern about the attitude of the youngsters getting passed out from the colleges as they are not ready to adopt new ideas neither using their own brain for the job at hand or responsibility given to them. Most present civil engineers are more like technical robots which just follow the orders & execute them without analyzing. As I have mentioned already, the construction industry still uses lots of man power for many types of site works such as concreting, plastering, tile fixing & many. And a manual supervision regarding quality control of all these acts is very important & where the supervisor or we can call him as engineer, has lots of responsibility where he has to apply his individual skills by getting tuned with the site conditions. This is something called as application of the knowledge where most of the current lot fails miserably & the problem is with the attitude & not with the degree or knowledge.

Another big problem is with communication skills is just being technically qualified doesn’t make you a successful engineer, to deliver , one must be able to convince not only the top bosses but the team down under also. And for this one must be open for a dialogue & has logical mindset to explain what he or she feels about his ideas & confidence about them. Or else with just technically perfect won’t work as if you are unable to convince others about your abilities then you will get frustrated soon. This aspect was also discussed & a strong need of generating their attitude of being communicative amongst the engineers been put forward.

One more issue with the fresh engineers is about logical application of the knowledge. Here many won’t understand that at site, may it be a building or road or any project where men & machine are at work, lot of things happens unexpectedly. For e.g. concerting is going on & suddenly rains starts; the engineer at charge has to respond the situation by applying logic & not just by books. To stop the work is the reaction any normal person can respond with but to be ready for the rains & continue even in the rains without compromising with the quality is what expected from an engineer! Indeed whatever has been learned in books is important but it can’t be cut paste type thing. A brain has to think & take from what it has learn in the books & use it at field as per the need of the situation that is what logic is! Unfortunately the major concern of today’s genre is their lacking in applying logic. Somewhere the marks based education is responsible for this, is what everybody agreed. As the brain of the student gets used to only memorize the answers to the questions asked & fails to grasp the logic behind those answers.

Then comes the leadership skills, which needs to be induced in the engineers along with technical knowledge. An engineer is like king at the site & he has to understand his posture & it has to be reflected by his behavior. And for that right from the college days he has to be trained for this aspect as being in charge is not just a position or post but it’s a lifestyle which one needs to adopt & understand the responsibilities comes along with that post!

Lastly the sincerity & loyalty with the job at hand; as not turning up for the job without informing or to change the job for a meager rise in salary are some of the  examples of current trend of engineers. And it’s very damaging to the job as well moral of the entire team if someone especially the leader in role of an engineer suddenly leaves the job. This again is attitude as nothing wrong in aspiring for a better prospect but at the same time understand our own responsibility towards the job at hand is equally important. A better prospect doesn’t necessarily means a better salary; rather it lays in better exposure to the verity of work as well responsibilities. This the younger generation should be made to understand & right from their education days that a good engineer needs to be a good human being also who is responsible towards not only his job but for the people around too!

The construction industry of the country needs good engineers & they don’t get born in single day, one has to work on the boys to convert them in grown up experienced engineers. And for this the industry people also have to contribute their expertise to the academics which unfortunately isn’t happening. Also the education institutes should open up for the new ideas & pulse of the industry for which they are making the engineers. Especially real estate needs the skilled people as leaders & not only as supervisors but as entrepreneurs too, as these are the people who will make homes for the millions of needy population of the country. And if they are good as an engineer then they will be good at whatever they built & what more real estate can ask for than more & more people coming in the industry who are responsible for what they build!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

MSEDCL (Power) Committee, Credai, Pune

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