If anyone still thinks that the present Artificial Intelligence (AI) is restricted to sci-fi movies or that it’s a thing of the future, then they need to take one look around them, says Prof Debashis Sengupta, Professor and Area Director, BTech CSE (Computer Science and Engineering), NIIT University (NU). Alexa / Siri like digital assistants, Amazon or Netflix algorithms, self-driven cars, facial recognition at airports, AI is here and how!
Prof Sengupta cites the Gartner Inc. report, which stated that 2020 was a pivotal year in AI-related employment dynamics. “According to the report, out of the 10 lakh registered organisations in India, 75% have invested or are planning to invest in Data Science and Machine Learning. India lacks massively when it comes to expertise in AI, ML, and Data Science. More than 50,000 jobs in AI, Machine Learning, and Data Science are vacant,” he claims. He asserts that AI will be a positive job motivator and that these skills are the new corporate demand.
So how is NU, steeped in advanced tech legacy, preparing its students to take on the mantle? Prof Sengupta talks about NU’s focus on new age specialisations in his department and its related initiatives. The seasoned academic and professional with 35 years of experience with Government organisations, industry and academia, is armed with facts and figures as he explains changing corporate dynamics with the strong influence of latest technologies. Mobile Internet, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual and Augmented reality, Cloud Technology, Internet of Things, Blockchain, Genomics, 3D printing, Advanced Robotics, Biometric Technology and Quantum Computing, Prof Sengupta lists out technologies that will transform the global economy by 2025 according to McKinsey Global Institute, and knowledge of Pluralsight’s SMEs.
“Not all of them will alter business landscapes but they can have a huge influence,” says Prof Sengupta. “So, for BTech CSE graduates today, possessing knowledge in these areas and getting hands-on skills is the new mandate. At NU, we are doing that by incorporating these latest technologies into our curriculum.”
One look at the curriculum and it’s visible that Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Engineering, Cloud Computing and Cyber Security are integral to it.
The new age curriculum is delivered by experienced faculty members as well as fresh minds that keep themselves abreast of the latest technologies. Prof Sengupta talks about the Doctoral Symposium held by the NU CSE department every year to identify young faculty members and doctoral scholars. “Last year it included seven tracks in the areas of Data Science, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Theoretical Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, and Robotics. We received abstracts from PhD scholars from IITs, ISI, NITs, IIITs, BITS and many other eminent universities in the country,” says Prof Sengupta.
Initiatives like the symposium boost the NU’s already strong faculty team. Many of the faculty members of the University not only have vast academic and industry experience but they also take part in cutting edge research and are part of scholarly bodies that enable them to bring innovative learning experiences to classrooms. Their research publications and authored books speak for themselves.
NU also endeavours to raise interest about the latest technologies amongst its students. From Project Based learning to Integrated Project work where students try to solve industry problems together, guest lectures, industry experts, and hackathons, the university has taken several unique approaches to prepare its students for challenges ahead.
“Students spend seven semesters learning two types of courses. Cornerstone courses form the foundation of their learning and keystone courses enable them to specialise in their chosen areas. Their learning culminates in Capstone projects that test students in both cornerstone and keystone courses. They imbibe social and team-working skills, which ready them to be more productive, technically and socially in the industry,” explains Prof Sengupta. With big industry names like IBM, Genpact, Big Basket, PWC, Cognizant, Knowledge Lens, Nextenture, Thoucentric, Airtel, Value Momentum, Flynava, EY and ESRI India as regular recruiters, these industry ready students can not only get perfect head starts for their careers but are also geared up for the technological disruptions of tomorrow.