IIT Delhi and Bombay revamp curriculum to address changing industry landscape



With an aim to create more employable graduates and meet their changing aspirations, two of the country’s IITs are revamping their curriculum. While IIT Bombay will start the newly developed curriculum for the first-year freshers, IIT Delhi is finalising the concept. IIT Madras, on the other hand, has kept the curriculum more agile, to help students discover their innate strengths.
“It is important to keep pace with time and provide the best opportunities to our students who are the cream of the lot,” says IIT Bombay director Subhasis Chaudhuri, adding that the curriculum revamps are at first experimental, and not every change is successful. “As students go through the process, we may have to make amendments since nothing is frozen in stone. The aim is to ensure that our students do not become obsolete by the time they graduate, with minimum lag time while adapting to global and technological trends,” he adds.
Talking at length, Kishore Chatterjee, convenor of the UG Curriculum Review Committee at IIT Bombay and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering, says, “The curriculum gets revised from time to time to remain in sync with the aspirations of all the stake holders, with the last major revamp being conducted in 2007. This time round the institute has brought in some innovative concepts. All first-year engineering students will have to engage in a departmental introductory course over two semesters that will cover the history and the future perspective of their chosen stream.”
These students would be organised into groups under what the institute calls ‘Makers Space’ to provide hands-on experience in building new products and services. “Makers Space will complement the earlier workshop practice and engineering drawing classes to inculcate the penchant for ‘synthesis’ among the students,” Chatterjee says, adding that the institute has introduced two new basket of courses – HASMED (Humanities, Arts, Social Science, Management, Entrepreneurship, Design) and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) that will be taught along with the compulsory core engineering and departmental elective courses. Right from ‘Philosophy of Mind’, ‘Marketing and Finance for Entrepreneurs’, and ‘Innovation by Design’ (under HASMED) to ‘Embedded Systems’, and ‘Motion Planning of Autonomous Vehicles’ (under STEM electives), the courses are based on students’ appetite and interest, Chatterjee explains.
The curriculum changes at IIT Delhi have a similar aim. “It should make students future ready and excite them in academics,” IIT Delhi director Rangan Banerjee says. He also emphasises the need for “multidisciplinarity in education to meet societal challenges, which is why relooking at the curriculum has become an increasing need,” he adds.
IIT Delhi dean, (Academics) Narayanan Kurur, calls the revamp at the institute more of a “curriculum review” which is still at the conceptualisation stage. The earliest implementation of the changes would be from the 2023 academic year. “There would be extensive discussions between the various stakeholders (some of which has already happened). This feedback would then be incorporated into the concepts. Once the overall concept is accepted by the senate, the implementation phase would start. This involves the departments designing a curriculum in keeping with the educational objectives laid out in the concept note,” he says.
Kurur explains that inclusion of new programmes is not an indication of a curriculum change. “Including programmes happens quite regularly. For example, in the past two years we have introduced various programmes including a BTech in Materials Science and another in Engineering and Computational Mechanics. This year we are introducing a Bachelor of Design. A curriculum review is of existing programmes where the effort is towards producing the IITD graduate of the next decade who would be equipped to effectively absorb current knowledge while figuring out how to extend it in developing new solutions, among other traits.
IIT Madras that undertook its major curriculum revamp about 8 years ago, has a different approach towards curriculum change. “It has been focusing on providing flexibility to students, while still doing justice to the degree they would be earning,” says Shanthi Pavan, dean (Academic Research), IIT Madras, adding, “Many students are in a certain branch not by choice, but by virtue of their rank in the JEE. If there is enough flexibility in the curriculum, a student can take core courses in the branch(es) of his/her liking as electives. At IIT Madras we are enabling students to earn credits through research activities and NPTEL courses. We have also introduced interdisciplinary dual-degree programmes (BTech+MTech), which any student can choose to upgrade to. Many of these programmes (on Data Science, Robotics, Electric Vehicles etc) are popular among them.”