There is considerable existing knowledge and experience, which needs to be adopted, adapted, and conditioned to evolve a newer model of education and learning for the younger 21st century generation. Technological scenario is changing rapidly and one sees its effect on the work place. Identity of individual engineering disciplines is gradually fading away resulting in convergence and multidisciplinary focus.
A new paradigm shift to the knowledge-centered education is needed that emphasizes systems engineering and holistic engineering to provide a student, high motivation and initiative to learn and acquire knowledge. It also empowers the individual at all three levels – intellectual, physical, and emotional. The overall education system has to be continuously progressive, reinventing itself with a focus on a flexible, adaptive, innovative, and sustainable quality education with emphasis on education for knowledge.
A paradigm shift in engineering education was brought about first by IIT Kanpur in 1962. A new engineering science based curriculum was implemented, along with strong sciences base, a set of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS program offered for the first time in India as a significant part of the engineering curriculum), and Technical Arts (TA) courses, initiating a paradigm shift in engineering education.
The curriculum and approach in instruction at the IITs and several other institutions is engineering-science oriented with emphasis on critical thinking, as stated earlier and is shown in Figure 1.
The 21st century generation now needs a new paradigm shift in engineering education given in Figure 2. As you can see, the difference between the IITK model and the present one, i.e. Figure 1 and Figure 2, is primarily at the synthesis level and at the two ends, where a student has to conceive/ identify a problem, define it, go through the learning process (critical thinking process) and finally design a workable and affordable solution, either a process or a product. Let us put that into practice at the new/ existing institution in designing the engineering science-based curriculum with a design & innovation focus and project-based learning, while expecting the faculty to develop the details of the entire learning process with critical thinking focus.