Civil Engineering: AICTE’s model syllabus introduces mandatory internship, courses in AI-ML, robotics

The BTech Civil Engineering model curriculum has courses on accessibility, transportation, sustainability and provides for minor and honours degrees.

KK Sangle, Committee Chair and Dean, Academics, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, MumbaiKK Sangle, Committee Chair and Dean, Academics, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai

Sheena Sachdeva | April 12, 2024 | 04:44 PM IST

NEW DELHI: An All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) committee has designed a new model curriculum for civil engineering which includes courses on AI-ML and accessibility, provision for minor and honours degrees, and a compulsory internship. AICTE-approved engineering colleges can design their own curricula based on it. Committee chair and dean, academics, Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute, Mumbai, KK Sangle spoke to Careers360 about the changes, enhancing employability and more.

Q. Civil engineering is one of the oldest branches of engineering but has it lost its charm? What is the new curriculum changing?

In the new curriculum, we have given a lot of flexibility to students. We know that the enrolment ratio for the civil engineering branch is reducing year-by-year. One of the aspects we noticed is that students are getting more job opportunities in circuit branches, so more circuit branches are approved by the AICTE. Having said that, there is a lot of scope in civil engineering as well. Our nation requires competent civil engineers. In line with this, we have decided that students who complete a four-year degree programme must be industry-ready; the industry has to spend minimal time in training them.

Major changes in the curriculum are in line with National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.

One important change we have brought in is a mandatory internship of six months during the seventh or eighth semester. This is the first time that the civil engineering curriculum has introduced internships which will boost the employability and develop skills through practical learning, exposure and hands-on-learning.

Keeping in mind all these aspects and the needs of all types of students, internships will help students learn civil engineering more effectively. It cannot be taught completely in the classroom.

Q. What topics have been added to or removed from the civil engineering syllabus?

There are a lot of modern techniques and tools that are used in civil engineering, including many design softwares and modern equipment used for execution of mega projects. These topics have been added to the curriculum, including how to use the softwares and equipment, in almost each course. We have also added the information and technical know-how used by people in the industry, both nationally and internationally.

Also, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and internet of things (IoT) are used extensively in civil engineering. So, we have added AI and ML in our new curriculum, particularly to see how it works.

The titles of the new courses are “Robotics and Automation in Civil Engineering”: “Building Planning Computer-aided Civil Engineering”; and “Sustainable and Green Constructions and Intelligent Transportation Systems”.

These have been included as mandatory courses. Because governments and people are talking about smart cities, smart structures, and intelligent transport systems, a few courses have been added on these. A civil engineer must have a knowledge of interdisciplinary skills.

Further, we have also kept an optional interdisciplinary minor degree. Usually, there are students who are academically strong and who can do a minimum of 164 credits and further, if they want to learn more, can earn minor degrees in emerging areas like application of computers, artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing. Students can take up a minor degree which is relevant to civil engineering but not a core subject. The minor degree will help students enhance their degree and job opportunities will increase along with good salaries.

We have added four open elective courses with multidisciplinary elements in the curriculum. Students can choose courses from law and management as open electives to enhance their civil engineering degree.

We took points from Prof Balakrishnan Committee which recommended that certain courses be mandatory in architecture and civil engineering curricula. So, we have made a few courses mandatory. We have focussed on accessibility. To civil engineering, we have added a mandatory non-credit course on the needs of persons with disabilities, accessibility and universal design so that engineers can plan and design infrastructure and environment accessible to disabled people. We have also added an elective course on evaluating accessibility and universal design in a built environment.

Q. How was the committee formulated? Why was it formed now?

The last committee was formed in 2018. Generally, it is a practice to change curriculum every three-four years. The last civil engineering curriculum was designed around 2018-19, prior to Covid-19 and NEP 2020. The committee was constituted in January, 2023. We submitted our draft report in December 2023 and in January, 2024, it was approved and uploaded. The curriculum will be implemented from 2024-25 academic year onwards.

Also read IT-fying mechanical engineering’: IIT Bombay professor on changes in BTech ME

Q. What is the major difference between the new and old civil engineering curricula?

The new curriculum is aligned with NEP 2020 with holistic, experiential and interdisciplinary courses. We have added a six-month mandatory internship. This is the major difference.

Also, to add the knowledge of the rich Indian heritage, we have included the Indian Knowledge Systems course as a mandatory course, which was not there earlier. Generally, in civil engineering, there are eight to nine major streams – structural engineering, foundation engineering, transportation, etc. However, in the new curriculum, we have given 10 tracks for programme elective courses. We have added seven programme electives. This will divide our engineers into different areas of civil engineering where we require expertise.

Good institutes require more new learning opportunities. Usually 164 is the minimum credit, but we have kept the provision for additional credits. Plus we have kept the provision of an honours degree, where a student can get a BTech degree with honours by earning 16-18 additional credits. But it is not compulsory.

Q. What job opportunities will the curriculum cater to?

Many civil engineering projects now are not independent civil engineering projects. Every civil engineering project has some interdisciplinary engineers. Most of the projects are mega projects, which require engineers from all branches or civil engineers should have minimal knowledge from other engineering branches. . We are trying to give the knowledge of other courses to our civil engineers so that they can understand other engineering branches, which is necessary to implement any civil engineering project.

Q. How will the new course remain relevant and make students industry-ready in the long-run?

Now, technology is changing very quickly. Earlier, the curriculum studied in four-year courses remained relevant for 20-30 years. This span of time has decreased now. It is necessary to revise the curriculum after three to four years. Any new technology relevant to civil engineering must be incorporated. About 70-80% content of the curriculum will remain the same in the coming years. Further, certain fundamentals of civil engineering need to be taught to students. So, only 30% of the curriculum goes through a change and 70% of it – called a “core” – has to be taught to all civil engineering students. It is also the responsibility of the student to learn new technologies based on the concepts they have studied during their course work. As compared to other branches, civil engineering technology is not undergoing changes as rapidly as other branches. Hence, this curriculum is expected to be around for the next four to five years.

Note: This story will be published in the forthcoming issue of the Careers360 magazine.

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