Selvaraj, from the 1998 - 2002 batch of Rajalakshmi Engineering College's (REC) Mechanical Engineering program, is currently heading a team of 200 employees at Jockey India. In his life as a student, however, there was a huge disparity between the dream of what he thought he would do and what he actually did. Born in a middleclass family from Tamil Nadu, Selvaraj did quite well in his studies and wanted to do medicine after his class 12. His preparations for medical entrance tests fell short and eventually started looking for a management seat available in the private medical colleges. However, Selveraj's family was not financially sound enough to manage the capitation fees asked by the private medical colleges and left him with no choice other than choosing engineering like his social group and friends of the family around him. While Selvaraj was busy bargaining for a medical seat, the top-notch engineering seats in the state were filling like hotcakes.
"I was very late to take admissions for engineering and there were only a few seats available. I decided to go to the then newly opened REC, since the facilities that they provided had already become the talk of the town," remembers Selvaraj. The REC, which was started under the aegis of Rajalakshmi Educational Trust whose members have had consummate experience in the fields of education and industry, had only covered one year of its operations when Selvaraj took Mechanical Engineering there in 1998. The REC, however, had set a vision to be an institution of excellence in Engineering, Technology and Management Education and Research.
REC maintains a very active relationship with the industry and explores possibilities of the institution being accredited by the corporate companies to facilitate deeper industry institute interaction.
"As I was preparing for medical studies during my schooling, some of the subjects in engineering did not come handy to me, especially the Mathematics. It was not just about the confusing equations in the Math, there was something to do with the teaching too. I was doing well in the subject Thermal Engineering, which also had the similar mathematical equations," Selvaraj. Like many students who join engineering without a passion to learn about machines, Selvaraj felt a huge gap between him and the Math classes, but unlike many others, he had an insatiable hunger to do well in his studies.
On the flipside, REC, which did not have a huge number of students in its campus like it has now, was quick enough to realize that some of their students were finding difficulties to understand certain subjects. Selvaraj says, "Despite being a new institution at that point of time, REC had excellent faculty members. My professors were committed and ready to give us individual attention. They made me realize the importance of patience while doing any work and I am here because of their guidance and blessings." Selvaraj, who joined textile industries after his graduation from REC, now leads a team of more than 200 people in Bangalore and runs a little larger happy family â€“ he has a triplet of children to look after. "As I told you, patience is the key everywhere. Some of the lessons you studied in your college days can be very handy in your personal life too, I am a living example of that," says Selvaraj.
The story of Selvaraj is one among the many of REC, which has already created a large alumni base who can be found in every industry across the globe. People like Dhreeraj Kumar (Researcher at Microsoft), KPS Aravind (Team Manager at Accenture), S. Algappan (Project Manager at TCS), Venkataraman (Technical Lead at Hitachi Solutions) and S. Nagarajan (Entrepreneur, Naga Infotech â€“ Singapore) are a few other notable leaders who have found their true north after graduating from the REC. "Our alumni members act as our international ambassadors. We utilize this alumni base for providing better opportunities for ongoing students by organizing workshops, training in the latest trends, seminar based on emerging technology, career building, continuing education classes and research opportunities," claims Abhay Shankar Meganathan, Vice Chairman, REC.
REC has come a long way in the field of engineering education after the graduation of its first batch of students in 2001. A spectacular journey that spans over two decades has seen REC achieve several milestones one after the other. In 2002, the institute received ISO 9000:2001 Certification and secured its first university rank in the UG program. The National Board of Accreditation (NBA) was prompt in indentifying the quality of REC's educational services and they accredited all eligible branches of REC in 2004 - the college also started the first batch of the Postgraduate Program in the same year.
"We are a research focused technical institution. We have taken concerted efforts to encourage Innovation and Research since our inception," opines Abhay Shankar. The accreditation from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in 2005 followed by the approval for two research centers from Anna University in 2006, are testimonial to the institute's that has been put on research and innovation. "In 2009, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), Govt. of India, recognized our institute as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (SIRO), based on our infrastructure, research activities and publications," shares Abhay Shankar. REC's quest for excellence continued and the faculty members received their first patent in 2010. Today, nine departments of REC have been approved as research centers by Anna University, Chennai.
REC has constituted a Research and Consultancy Advisory Board (RCAB) to strengthen research activities, enhance industry interaction and to foster industry relevant research. The RCAB provides support and guidance to enable faculty members and students to take-up research and innovative developments relevant to the industry as well as the society. Recently, the Board has been renamed as a Centre for Sponsored Research and Consultancy (CSRC). Under the CSRC, the institute has established two major research centers â€”Centre of Excellence in Machine Vision and Centre of Excellence in MEMS and Micro-Fluidics. Apart from these two Centers, the institute has two more groups actively involved in pursuing research, leading to socially relevant solutions. There are various research labs pursuing research in a number of areas such as medical imaging, low cost air-condition systems, composite materials and so on.
"Since we are located amidst many multinational companies in Thandalam, about 25 km from Chennai on the Bangalore National Highway, we are connected with several leading industries through the formal MoUs. These interactions enable our students and faculty members to get an exposure to the industry requirements," opines Abhay Shankar. REC maintains a very active relationship with the industry and explores possibilities of the institution being accredited by the corporate companies to facilitate deeper industry institute interaction. This has enabled the Institute to leverage upon industry's expertise in setting up of Joint Certification Centers (JCC) and Centers of Excellence (COE).
"We have given our students the best of the opportunities that the industry offers through guest lectures, internships, joint certifications through Bosch Limited and Wipro UTLP, industrial visits, adjunct faculty visits and many more. They would also get the benefit of undergoing training on personality development, soft skills, language skills and so on," explains Abhay Shankar. The REC's robust training framework, which is a combination of soft skills and the technical skills, have made the students "Plug and Play" in the Industry from the day one. "The Pre Placement activities start with a residential Employability Training Camp for the students. This weeklong boot camp helps the students to fine-tune their preparations to face the corporate companies during the campus recruitment season," adds Abhay Shankar.
Every year, close to 90 per cent of the REC students receive offers from the campus. Some of the leading corporate companies like TCS, Wipro, Accenture, Cognizant, Airtel, Capgemini, CGI, Mu Sigma, Sanmar, Schwing Stetter, Sterling and Wilson, Verizon, Voltas and many more are regular visitors of the REC campus, offering salaries ranging from Rs. 3.30 lakhs to Rs. 7.60 Lakhs per year. However, REC is not just a place to hone the employability skills of the students. The institute has taken entrepreneurship as one of the major pillars of its services to provide excellent support to the budding employers in the campus. "Entrepreneurship development cell is an active community in the campus and they develop individuals across socio economic backgrounds â€“ the pupil who has the courage to dream, the drive to make a difference and the perseverance to convert their thoughts into action. The cell prepares a pool of next generation entrepreneurs aiming at the economic and social development of our nation," states Abhay Shankar.
With all the necessary infrastructure and the intellectual capital to provide technical education at par with the international standards, REC has already initiated the process to become autonomous, which will enable them to design and offer courses including those that are specific to industries. "We have already established a few joint certification centers and we will continue our efforts in the same line to establish more such centers, which will address ever changing industry scenario. We will then put in a mechanism in place to carefully collect the views of industry experts and follow recommendations and accordingly revise the curriculum periodically," concludes Abhay Shankar.