By Dhruv Mathur, Batch of 2015
Dr. Shree Prakash Singh is one of the significant faculties in the ECE division. He has been associated with NSIT for the past eight years. His attention to technical details and rigorous attitude towards studies makes him a stringent teacher. Apart from teaching, he has also been associated with hostel students as their warden. He shares his thoughts on NSIT turning into a University and other issues with us in this interview.
Q. Sir, we would like to know what prompted you to enter the teaching field?
As a B.Tech student, I had been very interested in doing research after completing my studies. In addition, as a student, I had faced various difficulties and issues during my undergraduate studies, which I did not want the upcoming students to face. Therefore, I soon concluded that the best way to do so would be to combine research work with teaching classes.
Q. What are the various domains of research that you have delved into?
My key area of research includes Optical Communications, more specifically on Optical Wavelength Division Multiplexed Networks.
Q. Please enlighten us about the projects for which you have provided your guidance to the students?
I recently completed an AICTE sponsored program from the Research Project Scheme with three of my students. In addition, students of the ECE department are required to take up a seminar presentation based on papers published in IEEE journals. I have also been the coordinator for the internship tie-up program between NSIT and IIT Delhi. In this program, an NSIT student from any branch can apply for summer and winter internships at IIT. They can also opt for summer courses there, for which they pay the requisite fees. Once this course is completed, the student can then opt to take up a research project at IIT itself, based on which they may be provided with a scholarship to cover the costs of the course. This project is also accepted as the necessary undergraduate research project that is a part of the course work of the college.
Q. What are the parameters based upon which you select amongst the students who approach you to seek your assistance for projects. Is any preference given to those from ECE branch?
Since most of the courses studied by COE, ECE and ICE students are the same up to the end of the 4th semester,
there is no branch- based differentiation. In fact, some courses that are taught to COE & ICE students in or before the 5th semester are not covered in ECE until the 6th semester. So, basic coursework is mostly the same. However, the students must be prepared to work hard to study some of the topics which may come up as part of the project itself, on their own.
Q. What are your opinions about the age old syllabus being taught at NSIT? How do you think the education methodology be modified accordingly?
The current syllabus, as defined by the University of Delhi, needs a revamp, as it has fallen behind the industry standards. For example, if there is a course that the faculty feels should be taught in the 4th semester and is present in the 6th semester, we would not be able to teach what is currently in usage in the industries in the 6th semester. The professor teaching the course can also guide the students in new fields of research. In addition, the laboratory facilities in the college do get updated from time to time and are always available for interested students.
Q. Now that NSIT has been granted the status of a University, the intake of students & the number of branches is likely to increase. How do you think it is going to affect the students as well as the teachers?
Well, to be honest, most of us teachers don’t know the exact repercussions of the change of status yet. But we hope that it may lead to recruitment of more faculties, to improve the students-to-teacher ratio. However, this is just speculation, we hope for the best.
Q. A question that frequently pops up in the minds of ECE students (in particular) is the limited number of core companies visiting the college. Many as a result are swept towards non- technical fields. So what are the other equally interesting opportunities one could explore?
I think the most promising non-core fields for any engineering graduate is always marketing and data analysis. However, the finance sector is also very promising for engineers, since their mathematics background helps in the statistical and probabilistic analysis. Speaking particularly about ECE (and to an extent ICE), the biomedical field is one which has chances for tie-ups.
Q. The very idea of research sounds straining and yet, unrewarding to many students. How would you convince students here to pursue a career in research?
A. Research is a field that requires freedom of thought and the ability to innovate. If a student has those qualities, he or she can do very well in research. But the problem of mindset is one that stems from a person’s background. If one is a conventional thinker, who prefers to get a regular job in the industry, he or she may not be cut out for the research mentality in the first place. However, the cream of the crop is asked to do research and development in the industry itself. If one wishes to do academic research as well, they would find that the freedom of thought itself gives a lot of joy.
Q. …And even in research, most of us prefer to go abroad, rather than staying in India. What is your take in this regard?
A. I feel that for research work to be productive, various factors are a necessity- a good institute, a good research environment, need for research groups with people of different disciplines working together. Such conditions are very hard to find in India. One finds few examples of such conditions being available outside the IITs, IISc. and a few other top institutes. So, if the student wants to go abroad to do his research, that should not be taken as a problem. However, after doing his research work, he should come back to India to implement it, the younger generation, rather all of us, for that matter, owe a lot to this country.
Q. You teach the subject ‘Communication Systems’, which is considered as one of the toughest subjects among the students. What kind of response do you receive? What advice would you give to the students for this particular subject?
A. Well, I must confess, I do get disappointed by the response given by the 7th and 8th semester students sometimes. These students often feel that since the placements are already over, they do not need to work as hard. To them, the only advice I can give is to keep working hard.
Q. You are the warden of the first-year hostel as well. How has the experience been? Any changes you want to implement in the upcoming years?
A. It has been a very good experience for me as hostel warden. The interaction with new engineering students has always been mostly positive. Of course, there are always some troublemakers, but in general, the students are well behaved and bright. As for the changes, there are already some occurring, such as the new website for the Ramanujan Hostel, which gives all the details regarding it, including admission procedure & the various events for hostellers. There is soon going to be a gym set up, hopefully by this year. But, major changes that are necessary in the hostel are:
- Better quality & supply of water;
- Power backup, especially during hot summers;
- A sensitization program for students against the abuse of alcohol & drugs.
The last point, in particular, is one that I feel should be implemented across the whole college, not just in the hostels, since it is a rising problem in today’s world, and it could possibly be nipped in the bud right here in college. For this, we also need a better interaction between the hostel warden/ college administration & the parents of the students.
Q. A few words of advice for NSITians…
A. I think the most important advice is that the student shouldn’t let his or her individuality be lost under any circumstances. They should identify their interests and strengths, and pursue them. If every NSITian follows this philosophy, he will always succeed.