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Featured Contributor of the Month: Dr. Archana Mantri

Article by Sheetal Sohoni.

John Qunicy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

Dr. Archana Mantri emulates the roles of a leader to the “T”. She is sharp, articulate, forthright, and dynamic. Dr. Mantri is a pro vice-chancellor of Chitkara University, Punjab, and one of the active members of IUCEE core committee and Global Engineering Dean’s Council. She started working at Chitkara University 14 years ago, and believes that the university’s vision is well–aligned with her vision of engineering education in India. 

Dr. Mantri lives with her husband and younger son in Chandigarh, and her elder daughter works in Bangalore. Though none of her family members are from the same field as her, they all are very supportive of Dr. Mantri’s career. Dr. Mantri creates a fine balance between her professional life and personal life. No wonder people associated with her professionally have good things to say about her. 

• According to Dr. Veena Kumar, director IIEECP, “I first met Archana as a scholar when she attended (IUCEE) workshop at Mysore in 2008 and again in 2009 (HP) workshop at Gurgaon. Her engagement and alacrity of mind were outstanding. So was her passion and energy to contribute and transform engineering education in India. Over the next few years, she put in serious effort to train herself and complete her Ph.D. in PBL. And, when IUCEE International Engineering Educator Certification Program was born in 2015, she was the obvious choice for teaching the module on Collaborative Learning. Her overall support and contribution to the program have been exceptional! 

As a person, Archana is brilliant, open-minded, diligent and humble; as a professional, she is a great scholar, teacher and academic leader. Looking up to her, one is reassured of the future of engineering education in India.” 

• According to Dr. Krishna Vedula, executive director IUCEE, “Dr. Archana Mantri, now Pro VC of Chitkara University, Chandigarh, has been associated with IUCEE since its inception in 2008. She was one of those who participated in our workshops on effective teaching and learning at Infosys in Mysore. Since then, Dr. Mantri 

as well as the management of Chitkara University have been strong and regular supporters of IUCEE and active members of the IUCEE Consortium. She is also in our leadership team as a member of the IUCEE Advisory Board.At Chitkara University, she is instrumental in framing academic policies of the University. She has a vision of developing students’ personalities for a multidimensional pursuit, and, accordingly, she has taken several measures such as inifiafing industry-oriented hands-on courses (IOHC), and problem and project based learning (PBL) approaches. 

Her research in the area of “Problem Based Learning” has given a new direction to the field of higher technical education in Chitkara University and has earned accolades from the industry. Her work has received recognition and appreciation from various top universities of the world including McMaster University in Canada and the University of Massachusetts, USA. She has numerous national and international publications 

to her credit reflecting her research on the subject. She was instrumental in weaving problem- and project-based learning in traditional pedagogy—most prevalent in engineering education—in India, thus giving a different dimension to the face of engineering education in the country. With some very outstanding measured results her work has immediately put the University and the region on international scene. Chitkara University Institute of Engineering and Technology (CIET) is now one of the few institutions in the country delivering higher technical education using problem- and project-based learning. IUCEE is fortunate to have her as one of the Instructors for the IIEECP (IUCEE International Engineering Educators Certification Program) since its inception in 2015.” 

According to Dr. Sushama Kulkarni, professor and director of Rajarambapu Institute of Technology, “Archana is a determined lady with excellent oratory skills. She is passionate about exploring and experimenting in Engineering education.” Dr. Kulkarni is an active member of IUCEE, and has been associated professionally with Dr. Mantri for several years. 

Dr. Mantri’s first experience with IUCEE was through the workshop conducted by Dr. Veena Kumar in 2008. In her own words, “I will rate IUCEE 8 out of 10 for influencing my professional goals.” According to Archana, the mantra used by Dr. Krishna Vedula “I am teaching, are they learning?” stayed with her for a long time after the first IUCEE meet in Mysore, India. The mantra shaped her understanding towards students’ learning, and made her more compassionate and empathetic towards engineering education. She says that IUCEE not only influenced her thinking, but also influenced Chitkara University’s philosophy to a large extent. The university is committed in improving the engineering education ecosystem for all involved parties. The university has nominated 35 faculty members for the certification program, one of the signature programs under IUCEE ecosystem. 

Dr. Mantri is an active member of Faculty certification Program. In her words, “I have seen growth and progress in faculty members when they undergo the program.” Archana also stressed importance of project based learning in the overall growth of students. She discussed in length about the 3 credit “Engineering Exploration” course offered by Chitkara University for undergraduate engineering students, and how this course introduce students to the practical aspects of learning. 

Dr. Mantri is an Avant Garde, who realized the importance of improving the engineering ecosystem, way before it got popularity or acceptance in the Indian education system. She is committed to improving engineering education not only at her university, but also at the national level. A true leader indeed!!