On February 15, I attended the Professional student summit organized by higher education department of Kerala. The summit aims to provide a venue to interact with professionals with the students. Around 2000 students from 2nd to 4th semesters from different colleges of law, engineering, medicine, agriculture, fisheries, veterinary and management in Kerala attended the summit. The Chief Minister and Minister for Higher Education also attended the Summit. This is the second edition of the event. The first one was in 2019 at same venue - Cochin university of science and technology.
I was a speaker in Computer science and Engineering track. About 300 students from various engineering colleges attended my talk. I gave a basic introduction to computational linguistics and its impact on society. After the talk, there was one hour session for questions. Students surprised me with very good questions and everybody in general were curious and eager to learn about the industry and practices. One hour was not enough for the interaction. Many students waited outside the hall with more questions and I could not answer all because of time constraints.
The teachers in Engineering colleges of Kerala, in general, never practiced engineering in an industry. They start their academic career just after masters in engineering. Because of this, they are unaware of the practices and reality of an engineering career. This is a big gap and exactly why they were not able to train the students to fit the industry.
I got a chance to interact with the higher education minister of Kerala, Dr. K T Jaleel during the breakfast. I mentioned this issue and he said this issue is well known and the education department is going to form adjunct faculty program to address this. Professionals, experts, retired professionals from industry will constitute a panel of adjunct faculty and work in parallel with the faculty of colleges. Members of adjunct faculty will be teaching some parts of syllabus. This program is part of the UGC Guidelines.
I also got an opportunity to talk to Chief minister who interacted with all the speakers before the summit started. I requested a large scale digital literacy program, especially with the help of professional students as the state declared internet as fundamental right and planning to provide internet for every house by end of this year. Chief minister mentioned this in closing session and asked students to participate and help everybody else in the society to use the benefits of technology.
The summit, considering the number of participants, was very professionally organized. I really appreciate the efforts behind the summit and hope this will continue as an yearly event. After the summit, participated students are supposed to present their experience and learning in their colleges.