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Featured College of the Month: KLE Technological University, Hubbali

Article by Sheetal Sohoni.

KLE Technological University, earlier B.V.B College of Engineering, is one of the oldest and most active consortium members of IUCEE. The university is one of the torchbearers for spreading the message of IUCEE across India.What makes an institution and organization stand ahead of its competitors? What makes an organization successful and one of the sought-after institutions? Infrastructure? Buildings? Location? Associated people?

Here is a university, which fought all odds, and resurfaced as a winner. The white imposing building, which houses multiple engineering streams and the architecture department, is the first impression of the university. It is the only formidable aspect of the otherwise friendly and welcoming university. The raw energy is palpable right from the university gates. It seems everyone working here takes pride in his or her association with the university. Everyone is contributing in his or her unique way, right from the parking staff to the director and vice chancellor.

KLE Technological University, through the able leadership of Dr. Ashok Shettar flourished from an Engineering College to a deemed University. Dr. Shettar is a visionary who showed that no dream is unachievable. He has been involved and associated with KLE Tech since 2000, first as a principal and now as a vice chancellor. Dr. Shettar created an environment that promotes and encourages innovative and creative ideas.

The university believes in the philosophy of accepting failures with open arms. In Dr. Gopal Joshi’s, dean of engineering and director of Center of engineering education research (CEER) words “Failure is not a sin, but a chance, a stepping stone for future success”. He reinforces the idea of understanding and learning, not merely focusing on getting things right in the first attempt. Dr. Joshi has a childlike enthusiasm and energy, guided by a sharp mind that always looks at the long-term strategy.

He is eager to know new things and ready to accept changes. His openness and readiness to listen makes him a great leader. He provides a platform for others to shine and succeed. He is secured with the knowledge that his vision and ideas will survive and flourish with his colleagues and mentees.

CEER has started a PhD in engineering education, and Ms. Preethi Baligar is its first student. Preethi is a KLE Tech university alumnus. She worked for Tata Consultancy Services TCS, and joined KLE tech as a lecturer in 2008. Even though the degree is not recognized yet by the technical education body in India, Preethi is not worried about her future or career path. In Preethi’s words, “My masters did not change me as a person; it was just an extension to my undergraduate technical knowledge. I was always interested in human psychology, and a PhD in engineering education will give me an opportunity to make technical education interesting and fun”. Preethi knows that she is going to be an important part of the engineering education ecosystem in India. She is creating history!

CEET’S second PhD student is Mr. Surendra Reddy, a professor at Hyderabad Institute of Technology and Management (HITAM). According to Surendra: “I am created by HITAM, and IUCEE has played an important role in shaping my future”. Surendra adds, KLE tech has been a great support to HITAM as well as to him in continuing his journey in education. KLE Tech is helping HITAM with the accreditation process. KLE Tech believes in sharing. The university has so far trained 1400 engineering faculty members without any subsidies or government support. The university runs a 5-day extensive teachers training workshop every month. This workshop is open for other colleges and universities, and the university accepts around 10 faculty members from other institutions per cohort. Surendra was introduced to the PhD program through one such workshop.

Kaushik Mallibhat is a young faculty member at KLE Technological University. He is one of the recipients of IUCEE 2017 teaching awards. He is pursuing his PhD, and is interested in the impact of students’ background (gender, parental education, background, medium of instruction, and board of study) on their learning style. Kaushik believes that the course on writing and reviewing papers on engineering education research conducted by IUCEE helped him in improving quality of his research papers. He is thankful to IUCEE for their efforts in improving quality of research and engineering education in India. Kaushik discussed how KLE Tech through Vikas Classes initiative is helping students to secure jobs. These classes help engineering students in improving their communication skills and prepare them for campus interviews. He discussed how the university has increased lab hours to make computers available for extended hours so that all students will have access to computers. Students are introduced to basics of computers in their freshmen classes, so that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are not left behind, and all students are proficient in their use of computers by the end of the fist year. This is particularly important, as many students come from rural backgrounds where they might not have had the same exposure to modern technology that is commonplace for urban students from affluent backgrounds.

The university definitely knows how to identify talent, retain it, and create an environment to support growth. Mr. Sanjeev Kavale is pursuing his masters at KLE Tech. He is the only faculty member who was hired with just a bachelor’s degree. Sanjeev tries to follow a medium pace to deliver his lectures; the idea is to reach out to all types of learners. Mr. Javeed Kittur is another rising star of KLE Technological University. He is enrolled for PhD in engineering education at Arizona State University. He gives a lot of credit to IUCEE teaching certification program for influencing his teaching philosophy. In Javeed’s words: “The certification program helped me in looking at students in different light”. Javeed also discussed how management at KLE tech is committed to improving the quality of engineering education in India. The new faculty recruits are introduced to outcome-based education (OBE) practices, pedagogy, and methodology at their induction to the university. Javeed believes that his vision and dreams are well aligned with the vision of KLE Tech, and he can see himself progressing with the university.

Are all changes easily adapted and accepted? The KLE Tech University never pushed ideas and changes on its faculty members, but slowly introduced ideas to the faculty members and gave faculty members the freedom to make their own decisions. Ms. Padmashree Desai is an associate professor at KLE Tech University. She is pursuing a PhD in Computer Science at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU). She has been involved as a reviewer for the Journal of Engineering Education Transformations and the International Conference on Transformations in Engineering Education. She discussed her initial hesitation in adopting OBE practices in the classroom, but has seen the first hand impact on students’ learning. She also discussed, how change in attitude could smoothen the transition, and how she is the prime example of adapting and adopting change. According to her she would have pursued a PhD in engineering education if it were available at the time. This is a diametrical switch from her previous take on engineering education. Mr. Mahesh Patil is an assistant professor at KLE Tech. He is pursuing PhD in his technical area of computer science. Mahesh has seen a big shift in students’ attitude with the introduction of active learning methodology in the classroom. According to him, there is a big change in students’ attendance and performance. Mahesh feels that there is a big disconnect between engineering education research and core technical research. He feels there is a need of a bridge, which will connect these two independent floating islands together. He would like to excel both in his technical field and engineering education field. He has completed IUCEE’s teacher certification, and has published 6 papers in engineering education so far. 

Ms. Vijayalakshmi M is an associate professor at KLE tech, and a recipient of IUCEE 2018 faculty award. She is pursuing her PhD from JNTU. She gives credit to Dr. Gopal Joshi for introducing her to OBE practices and active learning in classrooms. She has a great rapport with her students, and is one of the important players in the undergraduate research initiative of CEER. 

KLE Technological University is not only a great workplace, but a great teaching institute too! It is one of the most sought after university in the area. Students enrolled in the university have selected KLE Tech because they know that they are going to get best education under the guidance of the best professors. Students seem keen in sharing their experiences. They were neither pressurized nor worried about their teachers’ reactions. KLE Tech has an open ambiance, which ensures free speech and flow of information. This is only possible when people are secure, and know that they are part of something bigger than themselves. 

A university can rise and shine because of its people. KLE Tech has a combination of experience, young energy, and passion, which makes it a great institution. The university created a distinguished path for itself by using its shortcomings to create an ambiance of growth, success, and progress for all its stakeholders. A true success story!!