Assoc. Prof. Rajesh Kumar Thagurathi is the Dean of faculty of Science and Technology at Pokhara University. The university has been continuously offering engineering programs since its establishment. As many as13 master’s level and 11 bachelor’s level programs are running under this faculty. The university is at the frontline in terms of its curriculum syllabuses and evaluation system. The university has been able to produce inquisitive, dynamic and innovative college graduates. Excerpts:
Could you give a brief account of the Faculty of Science and Technology of Pokhara University?
The Faculty of Science and Technology (FST) is currently offering 13 master’s level programs and 11 bachelor’s level programs in engineering and other disciplines as follows:
Bachelor Level Programs:
- Bachelor of
- Bachelor of Civil Engineering for Diploma Holders
- Bachelor of Civil & Rural Engineering
- Bachelor of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
- Bachelor of Electronics and Communication Engineering
- Bachelor of Computer Engineering
- Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology
- Bachelor of Software Engineering
- Bachelor of Architecture
- Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management
- Bachelor of Computer Application
Master Level Programs:
- Master of
Science in Environmental Science and Management
- Master of Science in Computer Science
- Master of Science in Natural Resources Management
- Master of Science in Construction Management
- Master of Science in Interdisciplinary Water Resource Management
- Master of Science in Transportation Engineering & Management
- Master of Science in Computer Engineering
- Master of Science in Structural Engineering
- Master of Science in Information System Engineering
- Master of Science in Hydropower Engineering
- Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in Power System
- Master of Science in Public Health and Disaster Engineering
- Master of Science in Bioinformatics
These programs are conducted in constituent, joint-constituent and affiliated colleges of Pokhara University, Nepal. There are 18 affiliated colleges, one constituent college and one joint-constituent college under the Faculty of Science and Technology.
In your estimation, how many students have been enrolled in this faculty in total including both constituent and affiliated colleges?
As many as 11,000 students have been enrolled in various programs of the faculty of Science and Technology.
It is heard that engineering education has not still been research- oriented. What should be done to make it research-based? What steps has the university taken to implement this system?
In the context of Nepal, to some extent the engineering course in bachelor level has not adhered to the extensive research-oriented education, which is peculiar. But there are cases of research practices at all universities only in master level programs. In order to implement research-oriented practices in engineering education, hands-on teaching and learning strategies should be incorporated in the curricula and given high priorities by the university. We still comply with customary teaching and learning practices, which need to be changed to deliver the updated knowledge and life-enhancing skills. Additionally, the research capabilities of the faculty of teachers should also be enhanced with the provision of their engagement in research projects. Besides, the investment in R & D should be acknowledged tremendously by the government and academia. Apart from it, we need to emphasize academia–industry collaboration model. The faculty of Science and Technology is planning to revise the curriculums of the existing engineering programs which are expected to incorporate the current changes in the respective fields with a focus on innovative research-oriented teaching and learning process.
There is no provision of internship in engineering education, which is not even included in the university curricula. How can the university exculpate itself of this allegation?
At present, the focus of engineering education in Nepal is on teaching the basics of technology. The delivery of knowledge is primarily concentrated on conceptual foundation rather than emphasis on practicality for developing learners’ skills. Therefore, Pokhara University is exploring a range of ways to revise the engineering curriculums which will promote the foundation of practical skills, necessities and changing paradigms of the community and industry. In order to restructure the curriculums of engineering programs for inclusion of internship, the lacunae between society, industry and engineering sphere should be identified and filled. The faculty of Science and Technology is planning to introduce internship privileges to the students of engineering discipline.
You are closely observing the engineering programs of Pokhara University and other universities. What are the strengths of Pokhara University?
Since the inception of Pokhara University, we are committed to providing market-oriented quality education to the learners of all disciplines. The university has been revising and updating its curricula periodically. Moreover, the university facilitates its learners with an amicable environment for innovation, creativity enhancement and entrepreneurial leadership.
Since you have been given the responsibility of faculty of Science and Technology of Pokhara University as Dean, could you possibly enlist some future programs you have had?
Agriculture is Nepal’s principal economic activity, employing over 70% of the population and making a contribution of more than 30% to the GDP. We need to produce the graduates that are capable of blending engineering skills with agricultural sciences to identify and develop sustainable solutions to the complex engineering issues of agriculture and related industries in Nepal. The FST is planning to introduce Agricultural Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs. In order to address the environmental and climate change issues, the FST is planning to introduce the program of Environment and Climate Change. Moreover, the FST is intending to introduce Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Food Science and Technology etc.
Despite this, the nation has significantly developed infrastructures and systems of information technology, and gradually the interfaces of AI (Artificial Intelligence) in various mechanisms of private as well as public sector are becoming popular and convincing. In this regard, the country requires experts and technological infrastructure supporting AI interfaces; thus, the FST is also planning to design and launch courses of AI in information technology.
Based on your decade-long experience what should the engineering courses be like?
The curriculum has to be designed to equip students with competency, knowledge, skills, and attitude needed to succeed in professional engineering paradigm. The coursework should provide students with a broad and holistic skill to resolve the complex issues in today’s professional engineering environment. It should focus on project and skill-based teaching and learning activities.
Which programs of engineering discipline are highly demandable in the global economy?
Engineering is a major profession as it plays a vital role in the development and growth of a country’s economy. Every program and discipline has its acclamation in the society. The demandable and employable engineering courses differ from country to country, for example, a developed country focuses more on interdisciplinary engineering courses and programs whereas developing countries like Nepal gives priorities to civil engineering, computer & IT engineering, and electrical & electronics engineering.
How do you acknowledge the achievements of the engineering graduates of Pokhara University?After graduation from the Pokhara University, a small percentage of graduates go for further studies in renowned institutions in various parts of the globe, but the majority of graduates are engaged in governmental, non-governmental and private sector jobs in Nepal. Some of the graduates have established their own engineering consultancy firms and some have joined research institutions and academia in Nepal and abroad. They have shown marvels in their workplac