Concrete Education in Colleges in India ….Is it enough???
With the ever expanding body of knowledge related to concrete, the gap between what is knowable and what the practicing engineers know is widening. While all the new knowledge that is getting added to the knowledge bank is not necessarily required at the work front, a major portion of it is quite relevant. In this context, it is natural to explore various avenues that practicing engineers have of acquiring concrete related knowledge.
Almost every concrete engineer without exception gets his first bit of knowledge about this subject in the Engineering College. After graduation, the engineer is left to the mercy of his/her employer, his own personal initiative and the experience and exposure that he gets with regard to concrete construction to add on to the basic knowledge acquired in the college. The extent of these opportunities vary vastly with individuals and while some, like the author are lucky to have the right grounding, for others it may well be a draught!
It is an undisputed fact that concrete is amongst the most widely used construction materials today. In most of the construction projects, the largest quantum of work both in physical and financial terms is some form of concrete. Thus a majority of contractors, Design consultants, PMCs and engineers owe their livelihood to concrete in great measure. It is therefore natural to expect that in the Civil Engineering curriculum, concrete technology should have a lion’s share.
Unfortunately, this is NOT the ground reality. While I have not carried out a systematic survey of the curriculum of Engineering colleges, informal discussions with past and present students and some faculty members have indicated that the total hours that are spent on teaching concrete technology to an undergraduate course ranges from 15 to 30 hrs (including practical). I’d be more than happy if this premise is proved to be wrong, but that would lead to a different inference!
Factor in the percentage physical attendance of an average student in an Engineering college, another percentage for mental presence out of those hours physically spent in the classroom, and you have a ridiculously low exposure of the engineering student to this subject. It is no wonder that a Civil Engineer, as he steps into a construction site, his knowledge is as segregated as poorly compacted concrete!
The situation can be improved by tanking a number of corrective steps. A few of these are:
- Substantially increasing the coverage of Concrete technology in the standard curriculum and making the learning of concrete more fun.
- Counselling students on the importance of the subject in their professional life.
- Introducing electives on concrete technology to provide greater learning opportunities.
- Inviting industry participation in teaching concrete technology in colleges (preferably at finishing stage of the degree course).
- Providing continuing education outside colleges. Many organizations and industry bodies are fulfilling these requirements, but the asking rate keeps on mounting with the ever increasing new entrants to the industry and ever increasing knowledge gap!