NITT’s first female Director Dr. Mini Shaji Thomas took up office on 29th of November. This edition of Coffee with Feeds brings to you what she has to say regarding a wide range of topics and aspects involving student life here, at our college.
So, how do you like Trichy?
I came to Trichy for the first time to join as the Director of NITT, so my exposure to Trichy is the trip from the Airport to the campus. That drive was good, with neat highways and a magnificent temple on a hill on the way. I have heard and read about the rich heritage and architecture in and around Trichy and would love to learn more and explore when I am here.
I love nature, like to be surrounded by greenery and I will care and protect nature. The campus is good; however we will improve it to make it much greener and environment friendly in all ways.
What was your experience of college environment as a student and as a professor?
I enjoyed my college days; I was a good student and at the same time I was involved in all extra-curricular activities including sports, cultural and technical activities.
I became a teacher by choice, not taking up other job offers with GOI, as I wanted to disseminate knowledge and be with students. As a Professor, I have always emphasized the need for overall development of students, especially being active in Professional societies, as when others are there to help you, why should you do it alone?
Do you think you can connect better with students by being active on social media?
I would like to connect with students one on one as far as possible, by constantly interacting with the student council and other societies. Social media is a good way to disseminate information.
What were your expectations when you came here? How has the experience been so far?
I have great expectations from NITT, being the top ranked NIT with outstanding faculty, students, facilities and an alumni network spread all over the world! So far it has been a great experience meeting distinguished faculty and others in the campus.
I am most excited by the fact that the student council is very active and there are so many student clubs, activities and festivals in the campus. That is really healthy and will mould well balanced graduates.
What are your plans for the college? To be specific, will we be witnessing any major changes in the coming months? Do you have any strategy to put in place for this college?
I have thought of many new initiatives for NITT, and a strategic plan for the next five years for achieving academic excellence, for creating a talent pool who are world class and socially responsible.
What is your opinion on the new flexible curriculum in place for the current second and first years?
Flexible curriculum is a boost to learning at your own pace for students and it involves hard work for the faculty to be innovative and cater to the needs of the student diversity.
How do extra-curricular activities play a role in a student’s college life?
Involvement in extra-curricular activities is what makes college life memorable and we must make sure that every student is involved in a club/society and enthusiastically participates in activities. These activities will refresh your mind and you will be able to concentrate more on studies in less time and evolve into a more matured personality.
Research output is an obvious indicator of how well a college is doing in the academic field. Seeing that students prefer to go out of the country for research, how important do you think is promoting research among the UG students here?
NIT Trichy gets the cream of students and I am sure many are inclined towards research and are innovative. They will be bubbling with ideas and if we encourage and channel those ideas, great innovations will come out. We are planning to collaborate with academic institutions in India and abroad for collaborative research.
SciEnT and the IoT lab are initiatives taken in that direction. What do you expect out of it and what are your plans for these initiatives?
These are excellent initiatives to promote innovation and research. We will orient the focus to solving real life problems so that the research will benefit the society. Collaboration with leading institutes in the world and Industries will expand our horizons and thinking.
How effective is learning online (e-learning) in your opinion?
E- Learning is a good option and it can be used as an effective tool. However, nothing can substitute a good teacher explaining fundamentals in a class and how being in a classroom helps students to exchange ideas, collaborate, and learn from each other.
Entrepreneurship has come a long way over the past years. How crucial is it that everyone must have a basic knowledge of entrepreneurial skills? Is starting-up the way to go in the future?
We need to educate the students and also parents regarding Entrepreneurship, as there is a need to understand the pros and cons. We must encourage students to create jobs than be job seekers. At the same time, I would also encourage job seekers to carry with them an entrepreneurial spirit, by innovating and leading people, in whichever jobs they may be.
Photo Credits: Mr. Pitchai Kumar, Octagon’s librarian