It was 1974AD, the Nepali rock band playing live in the field of Nepal Engineering College, which lies in Changunarayan, Bhaktapur, an hour drive from the down town. I traveled down there by a Jeep, surprising to me that I didn’t realize the surrounding natural panoramic beauty of NEC at that time, may be cause of the crowd gathered for the rock show and the sweet music centric atmosphere.
This time, it was different. Raj and I were traveling there with our CTO to address a group of students and teachers. I vaguely knew about the discussion topic, but I could easily guess that this could be one of those brand promoting speeches and interaction with students, which we do as a part of our on-campus recruitment event. Needless to introduce Rudra here, Dr. Rudra Raj Pandey, the Chief Technical Officer of D2Hakweye Inc. Boston briefly discussed with us on areas those can be put together to form “Soft Skills” a shape.
The serpentine unilane but pitched road took us to a beautiful place. I could right away feel the clean air easing my breathing. The NEC is surrounded by beautiful mountains and views of Himalaya. The event was supposed to be kicked off at 1330 hours; we reached there at 1328 hours, not to spend even few minutes of valuable time of students and teachers waiting for us.
Madhup Khatiwada, Head of Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering appeared in front of us out of nowhere with cozy smile. Madhup must have thought me as an accompanying photographer as I had the camera in my neck and D2Hawkeye carved pull over. The Meeting Hall was all set for the presentation, but there wasn’t any student or teacher waiting for us. It took for a while to gather the small crowd. Meanwhile Madhup did a kind job by leading us to Academic and Administrative blocks of NEC spreading in multiple buildings.
Blocks of NEC
Dr. Upendra Gautam, Chairman and Board member of NEC is an old friend of our CTO from the time when they used to work together in the World Bank. While two friends were chit-chatting, Madhup did us favor by quickly showing us few labs situated in the Library Block. These labs were pretty much clean and comparatively well equipped in the context of contemporary institutions. Moreover, I was impressed of the lab names. It was thoughtful to nomenclature rooms with heroes of technical history. Faraday Lab, Marconi Lab, Babbage Lab and Shockley Lab are just few to mention. You can even horn your skills by working on your idea in a “Project & Hobby Lab”. A “Design Yourself” approach to work out in your idea. This is superb!
CTO in NEC
Dozens of students and teachers were now seen in the Meeting Hall, where the presentation would take place. Being honest here, I expected more students to turn up. The moral is “Getting Ready for the Real World Challenges” and the points were
“Academic Research tied to real world problems”
“Elective Subjects allowing specialization (business, special skill)”
“Multi-year joint venture projects with business”
“Competitive Entrepreneurial Events – Business Plan”
Summarizing the overall presentation, I must agree that this was a very non-orthodox way of explanation. Rudra was down to earth recalling struggling events from his past life which could be called “soft skills” that led to where he is now. He wanted the natural skills to be put on the mass naturally but for that he did struggle in finding words and direct English translations. Few Nepali words did put the best meaning, English just wouldn’t be sufficient. The message he was delivering was simple yet inspiring that touched the basic definition soft skills. The high pitched abused terms would not have done this. All who attended the presentation must have felt the essence of “Soft Skills” in his speech.
The World is flat and Innovations could be done anywhere in the world despite the varying availability of resources. It is all about hard work and clearing clogs in the brain, and there is no better place in the world than such a quiet, clean, nature gifted place where NEC is. The globally linked information system makes it possible these days, lucky these new students.
Unlike in the west where students get three months vacation after exam our students get vacation to prepare for the exam. The internship programs in which these students get involved do not become effective and fruitful due to this rule. An undergraduate in the west would have worked three times four, that is twelve months and gained valuable one year work experience by the time they are done with the Bachelor’s degree, while in Nepal, students come out of the college with no work experience. Our CTO put this very distinctively to the mass and force everyone to ponder on it. To pin-point changes need to be made in academic procedures from business perspective is something very few or no business owner had done before here. This could be an eye opener and a turning point and for that Rudra requested the teachers to speak up for this.
Request to speak up
Academic institutions can be tied up with business organizations with multi year joint venture projects. Engaging students from third year to fourth year into the project and passing knowledge to junior students when final year students leave the project under the supervision of college teacher can devise a developing platform. This approach, not only benefit students by financially but also will get chance to work on real world project. On the other hand, businesses can roll out projects with cheaper development cost.
Many ideas were shared within one and half hour!! It was one of the rare presentations that a CTO gives to Academic institutions. After having some informal discussion with a glass of tea and some biscuits we left the beautiful place. We are eager to work with NEC more closely. We have symbiotic relationship with these institutions, if they thrive we thrive!!