Economies and businesses have been in a constant state of flux and disruption, especially since the start of the 21st Century. Globalisation, technology, automation, and outsourcing are some of the factors that have contributed to this trend.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given new meaning to the term ‘disruption’! The world has literally changed from what it was merely 8-10 weeks ago. As the world looks towards a reopening and recovery, skill sets, ways of working, methods of collaboration, and urgent economic needs…everything will undergo a transformation and will require significant adjustments from everyone.
At SRM University, Andhra Pradesh we have always focused on imbibing skills sets in our students that can help them compete and contribute effectively in a dynamic world. This approach comprises of several distinct interventions that are embedded into what is taught and how it is taught, including:
The University follows a high technical qualification standard for students applying to either School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and School of Liberal Arts and Basic Sciences (SLABS). There is equal emphasis on the personal interview process also. This process looks for achievers and keen learners who display both a strong track record of achievement as well as a desire to grow through learning. Besides this, we maintain a standard of diversity in the batches, which serves as a source of learning as well as preparation for the diversity seen in real life.
Liberal Arts Education
All SEAS and SLABS courses have common emphasis on liberal arts education. This approach towards higher education consists of a focus on four primary areas: the natural sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. The approach towards teaching all subjects is a blended one wherein influences from one sphere are used in another. This is useful since real life problems do not come compartmentalised and their solutions usually draw upon other apparently unrelated areas. Eg. a production constraint in operations that needs to be optimised through the labour force will need to employ an understanding of psychology. Or take the example of biomechanics, which draws upon medicine, biology, and robotics. At SRM University, Andhra Pradesh our inter-disciplinary programs facilitate flexibility in learning, which ultimately leads to broad thinkers with depth in their chosen field. Our six foundation courses across all our undergraduate program enable critical thinking and encourage becoming a thought leader. More formally, our students can opt for Minors in completely unrelated areas to broaden their knowledge and explore personal interests.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I will remember. Involve me and I learn” – Benjamin Franklin.
Students have a real need and desire for applying their learning. At SRM University, Andhra Pradesh various initiatives such as industry-driven Undergraduate Research Opportunities (UROP), capstone projects, industry internships and a technology-enabled active learning environment enable our students to implement their learnings in real life settings. This enables them to prepare for complex problems right from the undergrad level.
Initiatives and modules such as FabLab, Next Tech Lab, and IDEA provide our students with a novel and hands-on learning experience. While the emphasis is on theory, the ultimate objective is problem solving abilities. Needless to say, the world is going to need more problem solvers and fewer theorizers in challenging times. Students also have an option in their 4th year to undertake certificate or diploma programs in India or abroad.
Besides this, several international collaborations provide our students with valuable opportunities to benefit from some of the premier institutions in the USA and other countries. In a world unified against a common threat, world-class international exposure will go a long way in preparing professionals for the challenges ahead.
These are only some of the specific initiatives at SRM University, Andhra Pradesh targeted at providing students with not just a degree, but an education. Making them not just job seekers, but real thinkers.
COVID-19 stifled activity across the globe in an unprecedented manner. Most industries in almost all countries have been massively impacted but education was disproportionately impacted as schools, colleges, and universities shut down and remain subject to severe restrictions even as reopening begins.
However, given the importance of continuity workarounds were soon found and we now see several courses from secondary school education to post-graduate programs moving online. This has not happened only as a fall-out of the pandemic. Two critical factors are contributing to the spread and popularity of online education:
Need: All full-time courses are time-bound and suspension beyond a few days is not sustainable. Besides, students in on-going programs would prefer to stick to their schedule and be prepared with their qualifications in time for the post-pandemic economic revival.
Availability of resources: With widespread acceptance of laptop, computer and tablet for study along with the affordable data access are acting as catalyst for their learning. Rise of video conferencing tools like Zoom, Google Meet, Webex, skype etc made it fairly easy to connect students to classes and peers. All these resources have empowered their learning
The move has come with challenges. Nonetheless, everyone seems to have adjusted quickly and quite well to the new normal. This is thanks to several advantages, of which the most significant is that it keeps people at home and safe. Besides this, 5 primary advantages are:
- Reach: Online education obviously has a much wide reach as the constraint of classroom capacity is removed. This helps content and instruction from the same faculty size reach more students. SRM AP has proactively joined what might be the world’s largest remote learning experiment, collaborating with Zoom Platform where they host online classes. At present, over 40-60 classes are being conducted online daily.
- Recall: Webcams used in online sessions keep a focus on the student and a check on attention. Besides this, recordings of the session are usually available to quickly recap what has happened and students can also take screenshots of sessions for future reference. At SRM AP various LMS platforms – GSuite Classroom, Moodle, etc. are being used by the faculty to share the reading materials with the students.
- Extending use of media: Online classes at SRM AP use high end media to ensure continuous engagement between faculty and students. To make a classroom engaging, faculty members have started adding YouTube videos related to topics, diffusing knowledge through storytelling.
- Promoting reskilling and retooling: With rising joblessness and underemployment, there are several potential students across the world right now. They are keen to reskill and retool in a downturn so that they are well-equipped for the revival. Online education provides such students with depth and breadth in choices. Wider recognition of online courses by employers has also helped.
- Encouraging self-discipline and responsibility: Students have responded with a high degree of self-discipline in attending live classes and shown the responsibility to complete assigned course work despite the lack of supervision. The benefit of this obviously extends far beyond the completion of the program. It creates a value system that can benefit the students for the rest of their lives in all spheres.
Given the nature of this pandemic, online education is now not a matter of choice. And just as well – barring a few minor inconveniences (which too will be overcome with time, some effort and practice), this medium offers several advantages pandemic or no pandemic.
“Evening is a time of real experimentation. You never want to look the same way,” said fashion guru Donna Karan. You think, the Queen of luxury fashion is talking about appearance and personal style presentation, when you have another kind of display on your mind. The one you have to make the next day. Many young students are bogged down by presentations, case studies, assignments and deadlines every day of their college life. But that’s all the more reason to let your hair down, experiment, rejuvenate, and live your life to the fullest in the evenings. SRM University AP campus is the sanctuary to do just that.
Evenings are the perfect time to take stock of your day. They offer you the breather to unwind, relax, and rejuvenate. They are also a precursor to the promise of the night, which brings with it a new dream. It is the beautiful cusp of a moment and at SRM University AP you can shape it exactly according to your interests. They say, some of the best evenings are unplanned, random, and spontaneous. We say, plan your evenings and make the most out of the avenues we have in store for you. Here are 6 fun, cool, exciting things you can do under the campus skies after 6 pm. And we assure you, the sky is limit for the creative, cultural and culinary satisfaction you can get on campus.
Walkabouts are in
Designed by Perkins + Will, American architecture firm, the name behind some of the visually stunning educational institutions around the world, SRM University AP is a sight to behold. The natural beauty is enhanced by eco-friendly spaces that create a soothing ambience perfect for leisurely strolls. Go for a walkabout exploring the hidden gems on campus or head for evening walks with friends and make memories to last.
Time for a Gym-jam
All fitness enthusiasts and beginners can band together in state of the art gymnasiums on campus. It’s time to throw your weight behind your overall wellness. Pushups, pull-ups, cardio, aerobics; you name it. Go for the workout of your choice and engage with fellow fitness fans. Then there are Yoga rooms to channel your energies, meditate and recuperate from the daily rigours. Sources for your physical and emotional wellbeing are thus covered on campus.
Display your sporting attitude
Don’t see yourself working out in the gym? No sweat. SRM University AP campus boasts of the best facilities for sports including badminton, basketball, volleyball, athletics, cricket, soccer, table tennis and more. Want to pick up a new game or want the best platform to showcase your sporting prowess? Dive into the avenues we have in store for you and be a good sport!
Mentoring – Extra innings
The residential campus of SRM University AP is home not only to students and scholars but to many of our experienced faculty members. You can pick the free time in the evenings to engage with them on topics of the curricular and beyond. Our approachable and affable faculty members have been the guiding force behind many transformative journeys. Now you get to have an extra helping of that mentorship while building lasting relationships too.
For Foodie two-shoes
Extra helpings remind us of all the delicious options you can devour on campus. The lip-smacking delights available at the night canteen will satiate all your culinary cravings in style. You can also hop over to the truck shop to get your supply of foodie goodies packed with chips, cookies, chocolates, cold drinks and ice creams. Now can there be a more mouthwatering prospect?
And we are only talking about student clubs that create exciting platforms for you to pursue your interests. Passion-photography society, drama club, dance club, music room, sessions of next tech lab, python in pyjamas, debate sessions, women in Machine Learning, movie screenings are just some of the engaging outlets you can enjoy. The Night League by the Gaming Club is a raging success amongst our shining Knights.
We told you life after 6 on campus is all fun and games with enough food for thought!
Learning business management is a complicated enough exercise with experts divided on whether management is science or art, or both. In the current era, the complications are compounded by the pace of change. Theories and frameworks are getting outdated rapidly, and textbooks can be obsolete by the time they reach the student’s desk from the printer. In this scenario, how does a student ensure that the business studies course is keeping him or her future-ready? The answer is not easy given the situation, but there are 5 universal aspects that few would dispute.
1. Practical experience
Many business studies courses are geared towards freshers with limited to no work experience. If the class itself offers no avenues for practical experience, then the student graduates with a skill handicap. Look for courses that provide hands-on business experience during studies. This can be in the form of industrial projects from real companies, internships, assistance on faculty research projects for companies, or even simple opportunities for interaction with the real business world. Being in actual situations, facing real problems of real people shapes your world view and the sooner you can gain this experience the better. For this, look for institutions that have tie-ups for such opportunities with their recruiters and other corporates.
2. Soft skills
Multiple surveys of companies show that one of the most significant handicaps campuses hire suffer from is poorly developed soft skills. This includes presentation skills, workplace etiquette, grooming, and general communication. All of these are essential requirements for workplace success and for moving into leadership roles. Some institutes have begun to focus on soft skills and developing the behavioural aspects of students. Conducting exercises and workshops on etiquette, grooming, communication, art, and team exercises are some of the means. Innovatively, some of this is being achieved through training in theatre or focus on the liberal arts.
3. People matter
In a networked and ever-changing business world, no one can function in a silo. Effective teamwork is essential in an era where multiple perspectives are needed to solve complex problems. And this means people need to be effective at working together. Empathy, accommodation, appreciating diversity, understanding and working with differences, and sensitivity are the critical skills that need to be developed for success and these are timeless. Institutes that build in teamwork and people dependencies into course work will help groom managers who can work effectively and efficiently with any group of co-workers. This is why many courses involve a large volume of team assignments, presentations, and projects.
4. Global perspective
Globalisation is a reality that no business, big or small, can ignore and this will only compound in the future as trade and people mobility go up in future. Even an entry-level business manager needs to be mindful, aware and prepared to work in a complex and interlinked world. How do you achieve this when many entry-level managers have not even stepped out of their city of birth? Developing the ability to work with different nationalities, being comfortable in foreign environments, and being able to blend into the unfamiliar is going to be must-have skills for the future and preparation needs to begin early. Courses that offer foreign language courses, cross-cultural collaboration opportunities, international exchange programs, diverse pool of international students, and opportunities to learn from visiting foreign faculty are one way to prepare for this business reality.
5. An entrepreneurial approach
Some theoretical concepts are timeless, while others whither away. However, new approaches to solving old problems and developing abilities to deal with new issues are always evolving. After all, many of the challenges and opportunities are seen today did not exist even 5 years ago. How would a graduate from then cope today and how will he/she deal tomorrow? The dynamism needed to face unique situations and problems come from developing an entrepreneurial mindset in students from an early stage. This mindset can be developed through a pedagogy that focuses on doing, experimenting, failing, learning, unlearning, and taking responsibility for one’s efforts. Courses that spoon-feed will soon disappear into the sands of time, as will the students who learned with such approaches.
Bear in mind that there is no course which will teach you all the skills you will need in the future. A course can provide you with timeless skills, some of which are listed above, and it can provide you with a mindset of flexibility, entrepreneurship, ownership, responsibility, and risk-taking. If you have these, then your skillset is indeed timeless.
At SRM University, AP the curriculum structure and pedagogy is designed to incorporate all of the above aspects. In addition to this, regular feedback from industry and recruiters is obtained to keep education relevant. Moreover, campus life, extracurricular activities, and the work involved in running the students clubs and societies provide students with exposure in all of these must-haves.
What is it?
Engineering Physics refers to the combined disciplines of physics, mathematics, and engineering. The field seeks ways to apply, design, and develop new solutions in engineering and holds promising career prospects for interested graduates of science or engineering.
Engineering Physics is unlike both traditional engineering or science disciplines – it does not restrict itself to one area. The focus is on applied physics covering highly specialised fields such as quantum physics, materials science, applied mechanics, electronics, nanotechnology, microfabrication, microelectronics, computing, photonics, nuclear engineering, biophysics, control theory, aerodynamics, energy, solid-state physics, and others.
The focus on coming up with integrated solutions sourced from multiple specialities ensures that the solutions are more optimal, effective, and efficient. The cross-functional focus also closes the gap between theoretical and practical sides of science and engineering.
Is it for me?
As stated, graduates of science or engineering can look to specialise in Engineering Physics. Scientists looking to move beyond theory, or engineers looking to create real solutions to tangible problems using theoretical rigour find this field exciting.
What kind of jobs can I get?
Qualified engineering physicists fit in into opportunities within high technology industries, some of which are in emergent domains. The roles span research and development, design, and analysis. The sector will depend on the engineering specialisation that is selected, i.e. mechanical, computer, nuclear, aerospace, etc.
Engineering Physics is well poised to grow as a segment specifically because of the many new sectors in which it has application as well as the technological progress in the last decade that has created entirely new industries. Some of the critical areas that will see job growth are discussed below.
The pressures of a growing global population and the need for sustainable agriculture are going to [belatedly] lead to science and engineering, playing a more significant role in how we grow crops. Agro Physics is an evolving field, and it involves the study of materials and processes in the sowing, harvesting, and processing of agricultural produce.
Artificial Intelligence or AI refers to machines that mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving. This exciting field is growing by leaps and bounds and holds great promise in the automation of many processes besides an exponential growth in processing capacities.
Biomechanics involves the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of living systems. The field touches applications such as aerodynamics, orthopaedics, locomotion, pathology, oncology, among others.
Bionanotechnology refers to the combination of nanotechnology and biology. Here, biosystems within nature are used as inspiration for creating new nanodevices or nanoparticles. Nanomedicine is the open field that is looking to benefit from the progress made in Bionanotechnology, while agriculture is another sector that will see the application of new solutions.
A composite material is made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The objective could be to make the composite lighter, stronger, harder, softer, resistant, flexible, rigid, etc. While composite materials have existed since ages (concrete and steel are composite materials!), limits in the development of new materials are constantly being pushed through progress in Engineering Physics.
Machine learning (ML)
ML is a subset of AI and refers to algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a task without any instructions input by human operators, relying on patterns and inference instead. ML is beginning to find application across many sectors including primarily Economics, Finance, Forensics, Medicine, Search Engines, etc.
The miniaturisation of various devices (think about the first cell phones and compare them with devices today) has led to the need for Microfabrication, which is the process of fabricating miniature structures of micrometre scales and smaller. Progress in material science, nanotechnology, and other fields have led to growth in possibilities in this field.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Apart from medicine, Nanotechnology holds immense potential for multiple industrial sectors such as defence, textiles, food packaging, sports, construction, and energy. The fruits of the research conducted in this exciting field over the years are only just beginning to be realised.
The human neural system is an extremely complex arrangement linking the brain with the rest of the body. Neuroscience is still making tentative progress in understanding how this system works and this pace has quickened lately, thanks to the improvement in imaging systems. Neural engineering is a discipline within bioengineering that uses engineering to understand, repair, replace, or enhance these complex neural systems. Aspects such as Neuroimaging, Neuromechanics, Neuromodulation, Neurorobotics, and Neuroregeneration hold great promise for patients who have been resigned to living with neurological disorders.
Robotics is the right combination of Computer, Electronics and Mechanical Engineering with Physics. While Robots have existed since many decades now, the application across more sectors, the sophistication of the robotic systems, and their efficiency are being enhanced through the many technological developments. This will lead to productivity and efficiency gains across multiple sectors.
What are Nanomaterials?
Nanomaterials are substances or materials that are manufactured and used at a, as the name suggests a very small scale. ISO (2015) defines a nanomaterial as a ‘material with any external dimension in the nanoscale (size range from approximately 1 – 100 nm) or having an internal structure or surface structure in the nanoscale’.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAOFpgocfrg
Why is it important?
Nanomaterials are the most recent and most exciting development in materials science. Nanoscale materials have unique optical, electronic, or mechanical properties. Thus, when compared to the same material which is not at the nanoscale, they show more optimal performance measured typically in strength, chemical reactivity or conductivity.
What are the industrial applications of nanomaterials?
The scope, unlike the size of nanomaterials, is massive:
• Better building insulation,
• More energy efficiency,
• Better batteries,
• Better cosmetics,
• Nimble automobiles, aircraft, ships, spacecraft
There is nothing nano about the potential for nanomaterials and nanotechnology. There is every possibility that this field will touch just about every industry that exists today and will even create new and unthought-of applications.
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fY0E4xRyfek
Who is the field relevant for?
Considering that we have only just begun to understand the scope of development and application of nanomaterials, the future for this field is bright.
The kind of backgrounds required for this field could include:
• Material Scientists, and
• Physics, Chemistry, and Biology graduates.
However, nanoscience is essentially interdisciplinary wherein science is applied to engineering and hence a holistic mindset/approach is needed.
What are the career prospects?
As mentioned, the industries requiring this expertise are extremely diverse. Currently, nanomaterials have seen significant adoption in sectors like:
• Sporting goods,
• Medical equipment,
• Military and
• Energy, among others.
According to the widely followed recruiter.com, salaries in the USA range between $45,000 and $73,000for nanotechnology engineering technicians. Estimates for India are not easily available since it is a nascent yet growing field, though fact remains that there are very few qualified professionals in this field. Needless to say, as use of nanomaterials expands, engineers with significant experience can see their salaries grow significantly in the coming years, more so since demand will outstrip the supply of candidates.
How do I get started?
The pathway starts from an undergraduate degree in engineering or sciences with a focus on specific courses in nanotechnology, nanomaterial, or nanoscience. Alternatively, with the growth of nanoscience in India, several universities, including SRM AP offer undergrad and masters courses with specialisation in nanotechnology. This can be coupled with the many options available at the PhD level.
What is Energy Storage?
Ever since humans mastered energy capture, energy storage and retrieval for use at a later point of time or place has been the key pursuit in power engineering. As per Wikipedia, “Energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time. A device that stores energy is generally called an accumulator or battery.”
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JGMm8qDfxw
Why is it important?
Energy comes in multiple forms, which include radiation, chemical, gravitational, electrical, temperature, and kinetic. Energy storage technology converts energy from these forms into economically storable forms that are safe and accessible.
Energy storage systems are assuming greater importance with the increasing focus on sustainable energy (solar, wind, hydro) electric vehicles and the rapid rise in use of battery-powered electronic devices like smartphones, which has led to a surge in production of lithium-ion batteries. This makes energy storage one of the most promising upcoming sectors.
Insert video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljKFr_o24jo
What are the industries involved in Energy Storage?
When one thinks of Energy Storage, one immediately thinks of batteries. However, batteries are about storage and retrieval of chemical energy, but energy is of many different types. A hydroelectric dam, stores gravitational potential energy, ice storage tanks store ice frozen by cheaper energy at night to meet peak daytime demand for cooling, and fossil fuels such as coal and gasoline store ancient energy derived from sunlight, buried and overtime and then converted into these forms. Industry applications include power storage and distribution obviously, but also automobiles, real estate, mining, and telecom.
Video Link to‘Future of Energy Storage’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LAuDTNW5dw
Video Link to ‘Beyond Batteries’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3R7EzO3uBms
Who is the field relevant for?
The demand for energy storage systems is likely to grow exponentially globally as the world shifts towards renewable energy sources. This shift will mandate both grid level and unit level energy storage systems that are of viable size, cost, and energy efficiency. Significant research is currently being conducted on materials, engineering, and other optimisations.
The kind of backgrounds required for this field could include:
- Metallurgists for analysing the potential of viable materials,
- Chemical engineers and chemistry graduates,
- Electrical engineers
- Automobile engineers interested in electric vehicle development
However, energy storage is somewhat interdisciplinary, bringing together material science with expertise in energy storage using sectors.
What are the career prospects?
Estimates by Lux Research, independent research and advisory firm, suggest that the global industry for energy storage could be worth $100billion in the next few years.
Given the focus, demand, and growth, energy storage sector will generate significant jobs in the future. Moreover, due to the shortage of qualified professionals relative to demand, entry salary and salary growth prospects are positive.
Typical job roles are:
- Storage Systems Engineer
- R&D Engineer
- Reliability Engineers
- Modeling Technician
As per comparably.com, Energy Storage Engineer salaries average around USD110,000. Reliable estimates for India are difficult to make since it is still a niche area.
How do I get started?
The roadmap involves an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering or material sciences with a focus on specific courses in renewable energy and energy storage.