Collaborative Degree Programme MoU signed: Text of the address by Sri Pradeep Kumar ’68, Director, IRIMEE, in the function held on August 21, 1999.


This is indeed a momentous occasion for all of us here at this Institute. Today we are taking a big step forward in upgrading our training activities. Shortly we are going to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi, for a Collaborative Degree Programme. This degree programme is for the four-year undergraduate level training of the Special Class Railway Apprentices or SCAs.


This Institute has been training the  SCAs from  the year 1927, that is for over 72 years now. And the need for a recognised degree programme for SCAs has been felt for quite some time. This Collaborative Degree Programme meets this long felt need.  In fact I am aware that at least in the last 15-20 years, frequent efforts had been made for a degree programme for the Special Class Apprentices. I am happy that today we would be signing this MoU for the Collaborative Degree Programme.


                Before coming to the details of the collaborative programme, I would like to make a brief mention of the two broad categories of training activities at this Institute:


                . First is  the training of Special Class Apprentices which is an undergraduate level engineering degree programme of  four years duration, and

                . The second  is as we call it - the Professional Training on rolling- stock and workshop technology for officers and supervisors of Indian Railways.


                And in the second category itself,  I can classify the initial one and half years induction training of the  probationary officers of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers, conducted by this Institute.


Now about the Collaborative Degree Programme for the Special Class Railway Apprentices: all the Special Class Railway Apprentices or SCAs who join here at IRIMEE will register with BIT for BE degree in Mechanical engineering, and will be treated at par with BIT's own students of BE (Mech) degree programme. The SCAs will continue to be recruited through selection by UPSC. The semesters for SCAs at IRIMEE will be synchronised with BIT's semesters. The SCAs will now undergo eight semesters, as per BIT's course structure. In addition, the SCAs will have four workshop sessions in between the semesters. I would also like to inform that the BIT have kindly agreed to include railway specific subjects in the course structure, mostly against 'electives' or optional subjects.


The BIT have also agreed to periodically review the course structure jointly with IRIMEE, particularly with a view to take care of railway specific requirements mainly relating to rolling stock. The course structure will take into account the fact that the Railway Mechanical engineers are responsible for design, manufacture and maintenance of diesel-electric locomotives, besides other rolling stock. And the diesel-electric locomotives have sophisticated electrical, electronic and microprocessor controls. The courses for SCAs will therefore include digital electronics, power electronics, and microprocessor controls as applied to diesel-electric traction. They will also include rail wheel interaction,  rolling-stock element design, hydraulics as applicable to breakdown cranes, finite element analyses, etc. The collaborative programme pursued by SCAs at IRIMEE, will lead to award of bachelors degree in mechanical engineering to them by BIT.  I would like to re-emphasise that the mechanical engineering degree collaborative programme will not only have all the courses essential for a mechanical engineering degree, but will also include many other courses to suit railway specific requirements, so that we  have mechanical engineers trained especially as railway rolling stock engineers.


This collaborative programme will not only be beneficial for the training of SCAs, but I am sure it will have useful  impact on the course structure that the BIT have for their own campus students. I think, they will benefit from this industry-educational institution collaboration. Here I refer to Indian Railways as an industry. And with this formalised interaction with the Railways, the BIT courses will be more in line with the changing needs and requirements of the industry.


Until now, the SCAs had to appear separately in the internal examinations of IRIMEE, as well as the external examinations by Engineering Council (London) or by the Institution of Engineers (India). The IRIMEE's internal examinations did not count towards acquiring engineering degree. But now with this collaborative degree programme, there will be only one set of examinations like at any other engineering college or institute. That is, on successful completion of their 4-year training programme at IRIMEE, the  trainee SCAs will be awarded a mechanical engineering degree by BIT, which is a deemed university under UGC Act. The mid semester and other tests during each of the eight semesters will be conducted as per BIT regulations at IRIMEE. The end semester examinations will be held together with other students of BIT.


We are grateful to the vice-chancellor of BIT for agreeing to provide faculty assistance to IRIMEE on a long term basis under  this collaborative programme. The BIT have kindly agreed to provide us all the help that is necessary for ensuring good academic inputs on a continuing basis. Most of you are aware that BIT is fully competent in this regard, as they cover the whole spectrum of engineering education- covering undergraduate, postgraduate and research programmes. Further, under this programme, our faculty will  get opportunities for attending training programmes and other courses on advanced topics at BIT. This will help them in periodically updating their knowledge and competence.


For successful execution of this programme, we will have to make a lot of changes and adjustments at IRIMEE, and I am sure with the co-operation of all my colleagues here, and with the help and support from BIT, we shall surely be successful. We are grateful to the BIT Vice-chancellor, Dr. Mukherjee, Prof. Kekre, Prof. A.P.Singh and Prof. Sahai, for all the help that they have been extending to us. They have patiently gone through and usually agreed to changes sought by us. And so far, we have been seeking changes quite frequently. I am grateful to them for accommodating us all along.


And all this would not have become possible without the support and help of the Board. We are especially grateful to the Member Mechanical, Sri Ashok Kumar, who has given full support to this programme. And the Management Services directorate of the Board under Mr. Pant, and  Mr. Niraj Kumar, have done a lot to make this collaborative programme a reality.


And now coming to the next item, today we have the probationers of the Indian Railway Service of Mechanical Engineers - 1996 batch who are completing their 11/2 years of probationary training. This is the second batch of probationers who are passing out on completion of their training here. IRIMEE, Jamalpur became the headquarters of IRSME probationers in 1997.


The first batch had joined here in 1997. Before that, the probationers had their headquarters at Kharagpur, although their training was controlled by the Director from here. In the year 1997, their headquarters were shifted to Jamalpur. Last year we had the first batch which passed out on completion of their training here. At that time last year, we had taken  feedback from the probationers in a formal feedback session, with a view to find out  shortcomings in our training programmes and to suggest changes so that the training could be more effective and more useful to the Railways. We did implement the changes, whatever were considered necessary. And I am happy to note that the feed-back  we have got from this batch (passing out today) is that they have appreciated these changes, although they have not undergone training fully as per the revised programme. They find that the changes have proved useful; their training is more directed. We had introduced modular training -separate under various heads like diesel-locos. That is, the entire training on diesel locos – whether at the Institute or in the field, was guided and reviewed by the concerned faculty members here. Earlier these  were planned independently- they attended courses conducted here and also, they used to go to field units. And really we were reviewing the entire training only at the end (of the complete training). But now we are having periodic reviews after each phase of training.


Based on the feedback that we have received now, we will continue to make suitable changes, and it shall be our endeavour to continuously work for improvements.  I wish the passing out batch all success in their career.


I think it is very appropriate that the IRIMEE's Advisory Committee meeting has been scheduled today to coincide with the passing out of the probationers. The committee members can interact with the probationers to get first hand feedback on the training.  I am grateful to our Addl. Member, Sri Dhasarathy, for being kind enough to hold this meeting here today, and also for agreeing to be the chief guest in today’s function.  I also express our gratitude to other members of the advisory committee who have taken so much of  trouble to come to Jamalpur. In particular, I thank the Chief Mechanical Engineer, Eastern Railway – Sri Garg, for making all the arrangements for  travel and stay of the members. Once again I thank you all.

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