Research as a Cornerstone to Education
Rajalakshmi College of Engineering has a vision to be an institute of excellence providing competent and ethical professionals with a concern for Society.
“I think the journey over the past two decades has been very different. Two decades is a very small duration in an educational institution’s lifetime,” says Abhay Shankar Meganathan who is the Vice Chairman and also a member of the Governing Council of Rajalakshmi Engineering College. Located in Thandalam, Tamil Nadu, this college was started in 1997.
After spending the better half of 19 years focusing on the teaching learning process, the college has spent the last five to seven years strengthening the research process. A major highlight of this dedication is the establishment of TIFAC CORE in Machine Vision under the Mission REACH (Relevance & Excellence in ACHieving new heights in educational institutions) program. Centres of Relevance and Excellence are created and REC was chosen as a base focused on Machine Vision. With currently over 40 people working in this centre, both post graduation and under-graduation students are encouraged to participate in it. The experience provided has no comparison. An added advantage to this is that it is a multidisciplinary effort with the mechanical, electrical, auto, aeronautical and IT departments working together in the Centre.
The college has signed numerous MoUs with both industry and international universities. This college is able to have six MoUs with foreign universities from UK, Canada, Ethiopia and even Russia as these are research related MoUs. The college also has five MoUs with industry on research and development as well and this naturally fosters closer ties between the college and the industry. In providing consultancy work, companies like Mando Brakes and Super Auto Forge often come back again for more consultancies. This constant focus on maintaining close relationships with industry through R&D and consultancy can be seen in the fact that there is a division in faculty. 70-75 percent of faculty focus on the teaching-learning process. These teachers focus on improving their methodologies. The smaller percentage has focused purely on research so much so that their teaching load in theory is minimized.
“You cannot draw direct parallels, but there are definitely a lot of lines between research and placement. Research methodology gets into the student’s mindset, into their way of work which will help them in their careers later on,” says Meganathan. However this college has been able to place 95 percent of its students successfully. The college, through their training and placement cell provides training in soft skills and aptitude tests right from the second semester. Through a MoU with Infosys Campus Connect, they are able to provide students with the extra courses, lectures and even software. TCS alone recruits approximately 50 percent of the students of this college. Some of their other recruiters include Accenture, Hewett and Packard and Wipro.
The college is rapidly expanding into the field of entrepreneurship. With the attention given to research, the next step, naturally, was to expand into the field of entrepreneurship. The college is currently in the process of setting up incubation centres in the college. However, it is through the alumni that the college is able to provide guidance in this aspect. Many of the alumni entered the field of entrepreneurship and became successful entrepreneurs. They are often invited to provide their inputs and their experiences in the field to the students. This strong connection with the alumni is proving beneficial to the students. Gnanaskandhan, an alumnus of the institute says “I have had face to face sessions with the juniors, where we gave the juniors knowledge about how the industry is different from college. This interaction between the seniors, the juniors and the alumni helps bridge the gap between academia and the industry.”
Looking ahead, the future of the college is aimed at pushing the boundaries of academic achievements. The path ahead is laid out crisply by Meganathan “I think, going forward, we are looking to be autonomous institution, we are looking to be a university in the next 4-5 years, so we are definitely looking to grow our research activity to support our growth plans.”
Message from Member of Governing Council
“I don’t think there is one single formula for an institution to earn its name. We feel research should be cornerstone in our quality process of our institution. So it is not a primary a name garnering initiative but it is more of saying that this is going to be the backbone for our institution.”
-Abhay Shankar Meganathan,Vice Chairman and Member, Governing Council, REC
They provided software training and soft skills trainings and there were speakers who came to give lectures as well. This all really helped us a lot.
-Gnanaskandhan, Independent Consultant for Quadra Med, USA(Department of EEE, 2003-2007 Batch)