Re- Inventing Engineering Education

How SV.CO is fixing the education system, the startup way

This article is dedicated to every ambitious student out there who has the hunger to succeed and be a change maker.

Like they say, Change is the only constant. Often, when drastic change happens around us, it transforms our way of living. A walk into the past helps us connect these dots.

1991 This is the post-liberalization era which opened up the Indian economy to the world, ushering in the telecom revolution that changed the way we communicate.

2005- 2010 This period witnessed the rise of the Indian IT revolution with giants like Infosys, TCS, Wipro, etc taking the industry by a storm.

2010–2015 This period witnessed the emergence of the Indian startup ecosystem with the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal, Ola and others making waves.

But, what could be the next biggest revolution in India? I will come to that in a bit.

In the last five years, we have witnessed a lot of voices demanding the transformation of India’s education system; we have heard voices suggesting alternatives to the current approach towards education. During this time, we, the Startup Village, were engaged in building a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model incubator in Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.

Even after our persistent efforts, we were unable to figure out a concrete and scalable solution until we chanced upon the idea of scaling the Startup Village digitally. Our mission behind this digital experiment is to reach out to students across India and help them build startups.

During the first phase of Startup Village, students who joined us build startups successfully and in the process, acquired skills which ready them for the umpteen opportunities in bigger companies. This also gave us insights into how these students were turning out to be industry-ready engineers.

Our brainstorming sessions led us to think about introducing an “Entrepreneurial way of Education” where engineering students solve real problems, build skills that make them industry-ready and attain exposure to challenges in business, while they are still in college.

In our endeavour to transform the existing system, we have begun working on an alternative system which will usher in a “Student Startup Revolution.”

As you read this, I want you to visualize this as a new way of learning only.

Every “thinking” student has had their Deja Vu moment every time they came up with an idea. “I have an idea” is one of the most commonly used phrases by several students who only get to hear “Focus on your degree; this is not your time” in return.

Given that students have smarter tools in the Internet era, they are making use of Google to search for information; Whatsapp for chatting and Facebook for networking. For learning, however, they do not rely on old-school methods.

Experience the student startup revolution

We ideally want most of the students to spend their college life in doing three things

  1. Build real products while in college.
  2. Launch it to customers while in college
  3. Gain global exposure while in college

All these not before and after college but while you are still in college.

Most of the students are stuck in the rigmarole of classes, semesters and placements during their engineering years. This has prompted us to analyse their Skills Vs. Opportunities through a graph.

We realize that the current system of engineering education doesn’t provide them more opportunities or equip them with the required skills.

Graph 1

However, there are a few students who push their boundaries and learn new skills to better their opportunities. While Graph (1) and Graph (2) do not completely solve the existing challenge, we believe that we need to equip students with the best skills in order to provide them with the best opportunities.

Graph 2

Here you Learn engineering by building Real products which solves real problem around us. Students now build a problem solving capability.

Graph 3

Story 1:

Here is the story of Arya Murali and Sarah who have built startups, while in college. Sarah went on to receive funding offers from investors while Arya stood out as a classic example of Hustler. She was featured on the front page of the Hindustan Times, grabbed a free-trip to Google IO, was able to crowdfund Rs 65,000 for Jagriti Yatra, rather than ask her parents.

Skills like these make an engineer very valuable.

Story 2:

Here is the story of Arun Purushottam, a graduate who built a startup while in college and landed a job offer and an admission into Draper University. Leaving behind the plum job offer, he started off another startup and is confident that he’s going to do better with the skills he has acquired.

“Its like learning to build a house once and you go on to build a resort later.”

These are the future engineers. They are the “Startup Engineers”

Every student knows that they are only two ways to graduate. However, we, at the Startup Village, want to show the world that there are six different ways to graduate, expanding their opportunities.

What if students get funding at the end of their college? What if they are selected into a prestigious accelerator? What if they are acquired by a bigger company? Or, built a self-sustainable business by end of their engineering?

Sometimes, they might not be commercially successful but, they are technically successful. They can use this experience to either work for a good startup/company or pursue higher education at prestigious schools globally.

Here’s how the 6-month journey of a building your first start-up would look like:

1st Month: In the current engineering system students learn to build teams but if you do a startup you actually build a team.

2nd Month: You write project reports which go into the closet but here you built product decks which you showcase it to investors.

3rd Month: Learn Coding to write exams but here you learn coding to build real products

4th Month: You talk only to your teachers but here you also talk to your customers

5th Month: You raise sponsorships for college events but here you raise investment for your startup

6th Month: You do an internship at Om Sai IT Solutions in karol bagh, but here you visit the startups in silicon valley.

“You read and hear stories. But it’s time to be part of the story and make one of your own.”

The last leg of the article would be about gaining global exposure, while in college. This is something I experienced while I was in college building my first startup in robotics and second one, in my third year of engineering called “Speak Up”, a platform that imparted public-speaking and communication skills to students.

My experience in representing our country at NASA changed my view of the world. That global exposure compelled a shift in my mindset, an experience which is a must for every student who can take it as an inspiration and aspire to build something on their own.

Story 3:

The last story is of Jibin Jose who started his startup in a college hostel in Wayanad, Kerala. During his startup journey, he visited the Silicon valley while in college. Today, he spends half of his time in the Valley doing his business and stands as a role-model to many students in Kerala.

Stories like these are fascinating to hear and motivating enough to break the existing stereotypes on risk-taking and entrepreneurship.

A system that encourages and kindles the “entrepreneurial side” of student will result in producing smart students who will build sustainable companies and in the process, acquire skills which help them forward their careers.

In India, Over 1 million engineering students graduate every year.
But, only a few challenge the status quo.
The country needs engineers who are young problem-solvers.
Those who *Learn* beyond their classrooms, *Solve* a real time problem, *Conquer* their Fears and *Change* the World.
If you are that fearless genius among the million graduates, no matter from where you are, if you have the courage to build something better than ever before
Invest in yourself , what you invest grows

Join us in the “Student Startup Revolution” where:

a. Colleges are Centres of Excellence

b. Students solve real-world problems

c. Students aspire to become job-creators

India will experience this new way of learning online.