Dr Virender Rihani is the Dean of Engineering and Adviser at Shoolini University. We spoke to him about the new streams in Engineering and career opportunities for students. Excerpts from the interview:
Tell us about your professional journey and how you got associated with Shoolini University?
I pursued my BTech in Electronics from Delhi College of Engineering in 1970. In 1977, while I was doing my MTech at the same university, I was hired by Punjab Engineering College through UPSC. Teaching a large class of students was difficult at first. I was forced to pick up subjects that weren’t in my curriculum, which was a major challenge. I left my position as Department Head at Punjab Engineering College in 2012 and joined a private university as Vice Chancellor and Dean of Engineering School till 2018. After that, I decided to retire in 2018. But Ashish Khosla, a former student, persuaded me to leave my retirement and work at Shoolini University. That’s how I arrived here.
What is unique about the engineering program at Shoolini University?
The Unique Selling Point (USP) of the engineering school at Shoolini is that students get comprehensive hands-on training. The training we provide helps students to be more productive and successful. We hope to produce engineers who can benefit society and think about the best environmental practices as well.
What are the various fields covered by the School of Engineering at the university?
We offer programs in Civil, Electrical, Electronics and Communications, and Mechanical engineering. Recently, we have also added Artificial Intelligence in Engineering which is becoming quite popular and has great potential.
How has Engineering contributed to Shoolini’s growth?
When Shoolini University first began the related programs, there were a lot of applicants for admission in engineering, particularly in mechanical engineering. The market demand has changed over time, but the university is still turning out a large number of engineering graduates who are having successful careers.
What are the job prospects after completing studies in Engineering in various fields?
Different types of prospects exist. Some students aspire to work in the government, while others would rather work in the private sector. Those who desire to launch their firms are another group. For those who attend lectures consistently and work hard, there are many employment opportunities. For instance, starting salaries for computer science students range from Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh, while salaries for mechanical engineering students may be in the range of Rs 14 lakh to Rs 15 lakh, and so on.
How is the university guiding students to make up their minds about different fields of Engineering?
Over time, we have found that the courses that are provided by most universities are not viable because of limitations in demand. So, we have decided to modify our curriculum, which is in line with the requirements of the industry. AI impacts everything, including law and medicine, as well as every aspect of human life. We have accordingly modified our engineering programs as per the new requirements. We are offering a Civil Engineering program with a specialisation in AI. Similarly, we are looking forward to introducing more such programs.
What should a student expect before joining any engineering course?
That is a question which has been asked from me, not just by the students of Shoolini but many other places including the IITs. In my opinion, only those with an engineering mindset and interest should enter the field. Making a choice based on peer pressure without understanding your strengths or goals will not help you succeed. Students should realise their interests and goals first. When it comes to engineering, I want students to be interested in how things are happening in the desired sector. This would enable them to make wiser decisions in life.