Mannar Jawahar takes over as new Anna University Vice Chancellor
From research collaborations and incubation centres to improving employability and placement, the relationship between academia and industry plays a significant role in the plans that Anna University-Chennai’s new Vice Chancellor P. Mannar Jawahar is laying out for his tenure.
On Friday, Dr. Jawahar was appointed Vice-Chancellor by Governor and University Chancellor Surjit Singh Barnala, who reminded him of his “very big responsibility” in setting the agenda for the university’s four constituent colleges as well as its 108 affiliated colleges for the next three years.
Dr. Jawahar takes over from D. Viswanathan, whose term ended on Thursday.
In implementing his industry-oriented plans, Dr. Jawahar will be able to draw from the experience and contacts gained in his former position as director of the institution’s Centre for University Industry Collaboration, responsible for placements and training.
He looks forward to signing more memoranda of understanding with corporates, and promised that all existing and future agreements would be carried through to fruitful partnerships.
“More collaborative research projects are needed…Tamil Nadu has a concentration on two sectors, IT (information technology) and auto, both of which hire a lot of manpower from our colleges. An incubation centre is especially needed for these sectors,” he said, in a meeting with reporters soon after taking charge.
An incubation centre will help students and faculty to do industry-relevant research that could result in actual patents and work on projects with industry applications, he said. The university would also consider launching new post-graduate courses in the cutting edge techniques used in international industry, he said, naming M.E. degrees in Auto Electronics and Embedded Systems engineering as possible new courses.
Dr. Jawahar’s other main thrust area will involve improving the employability and placement of the university’s graduates, especially those from less known self-financing colleges. “If students are given quality education, the placement record will be satisfactory. The most important thing is to improve faculty strength and faculty quality. We will take also steps to improve infrastructure,” he said.
Faculty training, tele-education, EDUSAT programmes and regular checks on the quality of teaching and facilities will be some of the tools toward this goal. “If they [affiliated colleges] do not meet the requirements, we will give them a warning and if they still do not meet expectations, then we will de-affiliate them,” he warned.
With 30-odd new engineering colleges likely to open their doors in the State this year despite 10,000 seats going vacant last year, Dr. Jawahar emphasised the need for maintaining quality in order to continue attracting new students. “Intake depends on output quality…It’s a cyclical process,” he said.
Dr. Viswanathan had introduced several disciplinary rules for students, imposing a dress code and banning cell phones.
Dr. Jawahar wants the dress code to continue, but is relaxing the cell phone ban to a certain extent – while students may bring phones onto campus, they must keep them switched off during working hours.
“If a cell phone is not switched off in the classroom, we will take very severe action.”
Dr. Jawahar was a student on the university’s campus himself, obtaining his B.E. in Automobile Engineering at the Madras Institute of Technology, before going on to complete an M.E. from the PSG College of Technology and a Ph.D. from IIT-Delhi.
He has taught at Anna University since 1978.