|His Coordinates, Interviews
An initiative committed to innovation and learning
NIIT University partners with Esri India to launch the M.Tech programme in GIS. In an interview with Coordinates, Mr Rajesh C Mathur, Vice Chairman, NIIT GIS Ltd and Dr Rajeev Shorey, President, NIIT University have discussed various aspects of this partnership
GIS offers great career opportunities in India and abroad. Please comment.
GIS is becoming pervasive and is finding applications across a wide range of applications across the globe. It is becoming an effective language for communication. GIS companies like Esri are leveraging the advancements in information and communication technology and implementing GIS in multiple patterns like desk top, client server, federated, Web/Cloud and Mobile. These are exciting times and GIS professionals entering the industry world over will get excellent opportunities to innovate and build unique applications which will exploit the power of this technology. We are experiencing paradigm shift in the way technology is deployed thereby creating challenging opportunities to experiment and create unique implementation environments.
What are the main challenges in GIS education?
Most academic institutions in India face tremendous challenges to keep pace with rapid advances in geospatial technology and also to meet the challenging needs of strategic nature of the geospatial technology. Often universities are reluctant to update facilities and get modern tools and systems (both hardware and software) and thus knowledge remains in old regimes and does not get enhanced with time. For example, there is hardly any university that addresses advanced concepts of Cloud GIS; Object Oriented GIS; Geo-data mining and warehousing; geo-search algorithms; legal issues in GIS and so on. Similarly universities lack facilities of modern day satellite-based positioning and navigation systems, air-borne laser terrain mapping (ALTM) system and processing software, 3D-GIS tools etc. There is a need to enhance the skills of the faculty also and to expose them to current technology trends. This impacts the quality of education and knowledge imparted to the students. This is not a good scenario as it inhibits overall and all-round developments of knowledge in wide variety of areas and has the limitation of India becoming a “labor force” as against the “knowledge force” in geospatial technology. As with any educational activity, Geospatial education too needs special attention from Government to bring in the necessary policies, programs, institutional frameworks and networks, career opportunity schemes etc. so that India can generate a large pool of geospatial expertise that can power many needs of the future.
What is the role of ESRI India in NU?
NU M.Tech GIS Programme is research driven and offered with support from Esri India. The collaboration with Esri India will help the programme to be current and industry relevant, taught by a mixed blend of NU faculty and GIS industry experts in Esri India. The collaboration with Esri India will strengthen the M. Tech GIS programme.
Do you visualize any academic – industry interface in the context of NU?
NU M.Tech GIS programme curriculum has been constructed by taking inputs from the GIS industry leaders including Esri India. Some of the leading universities and academic institutions academia also participated in the curriculum design. The initial reaction of the industry is willingness to offer internship and placements to NU M.Tech GIS students after they finish the programme. Some of the leading software development organizations along with Esri Inc are offering scholarships to the students. In times to come, I see the relationship with industry getting stronger.
“To be the leading centre of innovation and learning in emerging areas of the knowledge society” How do you plan to achieve your vision?
NU MTech GIS has been envisioned to be highly research driven. Courses in this programme will involve real life projects that has societal applications and benefits. Innovations and entrepreneurship will be encouraged to bring novel research and applications into practice.
How are your courses different from others?
The Programme is based on a unique Geospatial Technology Competency Model (GTCM) and will focus on spatial thinking, technology and applications of GIS, GPS fundamentals and techniques, Geospatial project management and field techniques, exploring geospatial nature of regions, economy, demography, occupation profile, applications of GIS for humanities, etc. The Programme will enable professionals to start a challenging and rewarding career in the rapidly emerging area of GIS. Professionals pursuing this Programme will get a comprehensive exposure to GIS components like Geospatial modeling and database, Cartography, GIS programming, Remote sensing for GIS and relevant elective courses like GIS and Urban Planning, Advanced GIS platform programming (Mobile, Web and Cloud), Geoinformatics for environment, etc. Graduates will be fully prepared for positions as GIS Project Managers, Applications Specialists, Systems Engineers and GIS Business Development Managers. They will also have the option to pursue doctoral research at NU.
What are your plans to ensure best of faculties becoming part of your initiative?
We have started a worldwide initiative to hire outstanding faculty. NU is very selective in this process. I am happy to report that we have been able to attract quality faculties from all around the world, specially United States.
Do you have scholarships to support meritorious students? Any plan for students placements too?
Scholarship All enrolled students in the founding batch will be awarded 100% scholarship from Esri Inc, California and leading corporate houses in the country. The scholarship includes full University fee waiver for the entire duration of the Programme. Stipend During internship (in the third and fourth semester), all enrolled students will get a stipend at par with the MBA graduates from the organizations that have supported this Programme. Placement All enrolled students in the founding batch will be placed at par with the MBA graduates in GIS organizations that have supported this Programme.