How to choose the right engineering college

Amit Bansal

With more than 2,000 colleges in the country, you may be spoilt for choice during admission season. It is important to research well before you take the plunge, says Amit Bansal.

Which of the following is true for you?

  • You got into trouble with your parents for opening-up the mobile / computer
  • You think about solving problems when your teacher is speaking in class
  • You are called “very practical”
  • You were told that you have very good observational skills

If you have more than two of the above then you need to be pursuing an engineering career.

Do you realise that choosing an engineering college is also like solving a problem and taking a decision?

With more than 2,000 engineering colleges across the nation you would need to make multiple decisions in order to get into the right college with the right environment and with the right kind of support to launch yourself.

Like any decision there is a risk involved and in this case it might be a big chunk of your parent’s savings and more critically, your career is at stake.

Here are the three decision-making factors that you should keep in mind:

  • Made in Cheena?
  • The ‘Gurukul Test’
  • Tipping Point

1. Made in ‘Cheena’

Fake products are abundant in the market and so are fake educational institutions.

First and foremost, investigate the legal sanctity of the institution and the degree offered. Choosing and enrolling into a fake institution will not only pour your money down the drain but also plunge you into deep regret.

Read the points below and make a smart choice. It is a bit like learning to separate ‘Cheena’ from ‘China’!

2. The Gurukul test

Imagine spending four years of your life in an institute which would feel just like home.

In the ancient days, Gurukuls would achieve a homely ambience. Times have changed now but the importance of the environment still remains. So what comprises a great study environment?

Here are four factors you should get right and will give you a good night’s sleep (not during exams though!) after you enroll.

a. Faculty

Look for the elephant’s tooth! Elephant’s tusks are not used for chewing. So do not mistake the tusk for the tooth. What I mean is that you must try to find out more about the kind of faculties.

Do not just look at the names mentioned in the brochures as it could happen that a lot of such names do not actually teach. If you find fancy names under ‘advisory council’ but do not find those names mentioned under ‘department faculty’, you know that these people are just for namesake and may not actually teach you.

So beware the tusker!

b. Campus

Make sure that you visit the campus where the classes will be held. Look at the lab facilities and try to figure out whether the equipment kept in those labs is actually being used or not.

If you find equipment that looks like straight out of the showroom (or the antique room), you know that possibly you will also never get a chance to use that equipment.

c. Environment

Interact with current students of the college and figure out the kind of environment that the institute provides.

Does the college have a culture of ‘cuts and bunks’, do the teachers take classes regularly, does the management provide right discipline to enable healthy learning environment etc.

Essentially, try to get a feel whether the place where you will spend eight hours every day for the next four years, meets your expectations or not.

d. Accreditation

Most good colleges go in for accreditation from National Board of Accreditation. This generally means that the college maintains certain standards, intends to be competitive and is quality conscious.

Find out the accreditation status from

3.  Tipping Point

Engineering is a lot of hard work and involves a lot opportunity cost (the alternate uses that you could have put the money to, the alternate college / career that you could have pursued etc) and you want just rewards for all the effort.

The best way the college can reward you is by arranging campus placements. This for many of you will be the ‘tipping point’. In other words, the right company can tip you or push you into a better career growth as compared to poor start in a wrong job.

Also remember, the main role of the college is to provide you good academic inputs and help you get a degree; they have no obligation to get you a job. It is only left to the initiative of the college management to get you a job by the end of your degree.

It becomes all the more important in these tough economic times that the college you join has an active interest in getting you a job. The ‘placement record’ is an external or third party endorsement of the college and is generally an accurate assessment of the quality of the college.

The following factors will decide your tipping point:

a. Training and Placement Office (TPO) activities

Most engineering colleges will have a TPO. However, it is important to know how active they are. What all did the cell do in the last year. How many opportunities did the students get in the last couple of years. Check the notice boards!

b. Placement rate

How many students actually got placed in the last few years? While most colleges will claim 100 per cent placements, it is important for you to find out how true those claims are. If the college is just naming the companies that interviewed the students, chances are high that the students are not getting placements.

c. Career programmes

How many students get selected for good MBA or MS programmes is also a good indicator of how successful students will be after completing their engineering.

d. Employment and career readiness initiatives

A very strong indicator on the attitude of the management towards placements can also be judged by the initiatives being taken to get students ready for the industry. Does the college have industry-readiness programmes being run in addition to the regular academic input?

So while your passion is engineering and you love your subject, also use the three-point formula:

  • Avoid the fakes
  • Select the environment suits you, and
  • Keep placements in mind

When you become an engineer, you will be happy you followed this engineering formula.

All the best!



The biggest challenge in vocational sector is mobilizing the students

Amit Bansal is the co-founder and CEO of PurpleLeap, an entry-level talent management company specializing in providing quality ‘ready-to-deploy’ talent to the industry. Amit started his career with Asian Paints, in Sales and Distribution, before joining IT industry with Riverrun, delivering customer solutions on cutting edge technologies. Later, Amit joined Talisma, where he gained expertise in developing and marketing technology products across India, US and Canada as Director, Product Management. In an exclusive interview with India Education Review Amit discusses measures to bridge the skill gap in India and role of private sector in this regard.

Q. A good number of multinational companies are now offering specialized courses as part of the syllabus in many technical institutions, in a bid to step up ready-to-deploy workforce. How do you look at this trend? 

Amit Bansal – The problem of lack of workplace ready professionals is becoming severe by the day. Though the number of engineers passing out of engineering colleges has been increasing every year by a CAGR of over 15 per cent in the last 10 years, the supply of employable talent is not meeting the demand. In a nutshell, putting up more buildings and creating more engineering seats is not helping the cause of ready-to-deploy talent. Hence, there is a need for specialized programs that prepare the students for their first job.

Last year, from a total of 15 lacs engineering seats, more than 5 lacs went vacant. Institutes that fail to produce talent that can be absorbed by the industry will start shutting down.

Institutes that are serious about providing technical education are already taking steps to mitigate this challenge. In the short to medium term, the solution is to invest in such specialized programs in colleges. In the medium to long term, institutes will invest in upgrading the quality of technical education in collaboration with industry oriented initiatives to transform the way technical education is being imparted in colleges.

Q. For long time you have been part of the IT industry, what been the changes the sector has witnessed since you joined? 

Amit Bansal – The IT industry in India has undergone a major transformation over the last couple of decades. In the nineties, the processes were still very nascent. It took lot of time to create replicable processes and practices that could bring predictability in quality and timely delivery. In this period, the industry witnessed lot of innovation through best practices to deliver projects in a hybrid onsite and offshore delivery. The industry also matured to create specialized practices across different verticals and technology areas. However, the main advantage of the Indian IT industry was still the Dollar Rupee arbitrage. One could get the same work done in India at a fraction of the cost of the western world.

In the past few years, the Indian IT industry is witnessing competition from other nations that have the same cost advantage. This is putting enormous pressure on companies to rationalize their cost structures to remain competitive. One of the large components of this cost is the bench and the unproductive time it takes to get the fresher up to speed.  More and more organizations are looking at ways to bring down the average unproductive time from 8-9 months to a reasonable 3-4 months.

The other significant shift is the investment in R&D. The Indian IT industry is increasingly spending more to build competence across technology areas that help them compete with the best in the world.

Q. How you look at the vocational education and skill development sector to bridge the skill gap in India? 

Amit Bansal – The biggest challenge in vocational sector is mobilizing the students. Since most of the vocational programs are meant for bottom of the pyramid, the investment capacity of the student is quite limited. Hence, the business models need to look at a fresh approach rather than the traditional approach of a student coming to a classroom/center for training. The role of government as well as industry is extremely important. While the industry needs to recognize and mandate sector specific certifications, the government needs to create more of sector specific skill-development councils that mobilize the talent and the industry alike. Lot of good initiatives are in place and we will see the efforts bearing results in this decade.

Q. Is PurpleLeap part of IndiaCan or are both serving different sectors? 

Amit Bansal – IndiaCan owns a majority stake in PurpleLeap. From a business stand-point, the two companies are addressing different segments. While IndiaCan is focused more on the vocational training, PurpleLeap works with the graduate and post-graduate colleges to create industry-ready talent.

Q. What have been major achievements of PurpleLeap in past five years? 

Amit Bansal – PurpleLeap is currently the first company in the country that is operating over 250 classrooms and can track the performance of each and every student on a real-time basis. We are now training over 30,000 students in a year. Our student base is growing by a factor of three times every year consistently for the last three years. We are serving the entry level talent requirement for over 100 organizations. Our biggest achievement is that we are able to deliver consistent learning experience to all these students through a mix of technology and processes, given the backing of globally recognized players like Educomp and Pearson.

Q. What role private sector can play in improvement of the vocational education and skill development sector in India? 

Amit Bansal – Private sector needs to recognize the certified talent available in the market. If you look at the current situation, there is very limited “direct-benefit” that a student sees in making the investment in training and certification. The student needs an assurance that if s/he is trained and certified, the industry is going to absorb them. Otherwise, for the student the certificate is just another piece of paper! The current recruitment practices in the industry hardly provide any “visible-benefit” to the candidate. Of course, if the student is well trained, s/he will perform well in the interview and get a job. But, normally students do not have the maturity to see that and are looking at “direct-benefit” that is apparent and assured.

The industry needs to come together and create a commonly acceptable certification framework that they will use to recruit fresh talent. They need to incentivize candidates who get recruited through this certification route. This will ensure that enough students are motivated to invest in such skilling and certification programs and will lead to a healthy supply of certified talent for the industry.

Q. What are your future plans? 

Amit Bansal – We will consolidate our leadership position in conducting skill development programs in engineering and management colleges. We are on our way to reach the 100,000 students mark over the next 12 months.

In addition to the existing programs, we will work closely with our partner colleges to help them adopt technology and best pedagogical practices that help them produce quality talent.


India Inc to go slow on hiring in 2012

Amit Bansal, CEO, Purple Leap, says, “In engineering, the bulk of recruitment is in the information technology (IT) sector. The sentiment has changed over time. In mid-2011, there was a 25-30 per cent increase for freshers in IT. In the later half, that sentiment changed. People are cautious. I believe that in the first quarter of 2012, the sentiment would be to wait and watch.”

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Source: Business Standard