Today, education is more of a business in our society, with growing number of business persons who do not know the veracity of education opening up engineering and medical colleges to proliferate their business empire. Like a contradiction to that, a famous English writer - G. K. Chesterton once said, "Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." On another part of the world, Dr. V. P. Ramamurthi, former Anna University Professor and founder of Dhanalakshmi College of Engineering (DCE), is proving that the writer was spot on with his words.
People who know Dr. V. P. Ramamurthi fondly call him Dr. VPR, who hails from a remote village in Tamil Nadu named Walajapet. As his parents belonged to the weaving community and since their job did not help in running the family financially, young Ramamurthi had to fight against hunger and poverty to complete his basic education. Therefore, his parents' pride knew no bounds when Ramamurthi passed SSLC, as he was the first person from his family to reach that milestone. He continued to fight against the challenges life threw at him and became an engineer in 1965 by completing his B. E. in the EEE discipline from College of Engineering, Guindy, which is now known as Anna University and later on joined his alma mater as an Assistant Professor.
After 28 years of service in teaching, he took a bold and risky decision to resign his job, as the desire to adorn himself with the cloak of entrepreneurship was strong upon him. "I had 10 more years of service left with Anna University. I did not continue there because I wanted to contribute something to the society using my experience in the education sector," says Dr. Ramamurthy, who started IIPE, a center that offered training for TNPCEE candidates, in 1993. His first education venture turned into a roaring success that saw 80 branches sprawled across Tamil Nadu. The strength of the institute was the top-notch material given to students for preparation, and it catapulted IIPE to the number one institution for training in the state.
The Establishment of DCE
Great achievers do not rest on their laurels, but move on to greater heights where glory awaits them. Such was the case with Dr. Ramamurthi when he established Dhanalakshmi College of Engineering (DCE) in 2001 with merely three departments, each having an intake of 40 students. Since this modest beginning, DCE has come a long way in coping with the changing times and technologies. Today, a 75-acre lush campus with an impressive built-up area of over 25 acres at DCE, welcomes 1000 students every year, in as many as six traditional and emerging disciplines of engineering.
Bringing light upon the modern day challenges of running an engineering college, Dr. Ramamurthi says, "The major problem in the engineering education is the lack of industry experienced faculty members. Most of them finish their post graduation and come directly to the teaching arena. Today's students need awareness about the industry and traditional method of teaching is not capable of providing that." To ensure that his institute is not suffering due to this issue, he sends his faculty members to the industry for short internships. "We have close to 250 faculty members in our campus. We send a good number of them for internship with the industry every year. This has definitely helped us to improve the teaching standard," explains Dr. Ramamurthi.
However, Dr. Ramamurthi and his team are not ready to rest by equipping faculty members with the necessary knowledge about the industry. Considering the importance of communication skills for the career growth of students, they have initiated Business English Certification (BEC) Course for students. So far, nearly 700 students have undergone BEC (preliminary) examination and got BEC certification of Cambridge University. On the other side, they have also signed MoUs with CISCO Networking Academy, Texas Instruments, Free Scale Semiconductors and many more to provide students the latest technical knowledge. The result of these activities is the consistent performance in placement, which always exceeds 95 percent every year.
"You stop teaching them descriptions. You teach them fundamentals and motivate them. They will come up with innovative ideas and perform well in their interviews. As a teacher, I know what students need and we are bringing everything that is possible from our end. To be precise, education is not a business for me. It is the service, which I would like to give back to my society," says Dr. Ramamurthi, who is a beacon of light that attracts the poor and needy of the society. Long is the list that holds the names of people who have been educated because of him. He, whose education was fraught with peril has ensured that as many people as possible are being shown the path of education. Surely, Dr. Ramamurthi is an epitome of success and DCE is the brainchild of this clairvoyant and committed academician.