India’s Education Culture Undergoing Rapid Change: German Ambassador

Higher education in India is moving to a more practical application of knowledge, enabling the country to make fast and giant strides in technology, German Ambassador to India Walter J Lindner said today.

“Back in Germany, learning is structured. Here you have stronger emphasis on innovation. Thus a good combination of talent and encouragement. Who knows, the next Nobel Prize could be from this centre,” he remarked, inaugurating a state-of-the-art facility that German power major Steag set up at Rajagiri School of Engineering and Technology (RSET) here.

“It is excellent you have got now a set-up where one can convert a range of ideas into prototypes. Of course, you have to experiment,” the top diplomat said in his address after opening the Steag Centre for Smart City Technologies at the RSET’s campus in Kakkanad.

The 4,000-square-foot facility, which is equipped with 3D printers, CNC routers, laser cutters and electronics and software, aims to boost innovation based on the principle of ‘learning by doing’. It facilitates development of any technological idea up to the prototype stage, enabling execution of projects in the fields of energy, mobility and recycling of materials focused on the requirements of a Smart City.

Noting that the centre will foster greater collaboration between academia and industry, Lindner noted that new-age India will be recognised more for its capability in IT and innovation rather than “Taj Mahal or Rajasthan.”

Steag Energy Services GmbH CEO Dr Ralf Schiele, addressing the ceremony, said India has a good blend of “creativity and energy”. The new centre at RSET will help sharpen the skills of the institution’s students, he added.

Steag India Chairman Dr Jacob T Verghese recalled that the work for the facility began in July 2018 when the company inked an MoU with RSET. Modelled on MIT’s Makers Culture, the centre is a space that students can call their own, he added. He also said that students faculty and domain experts have a place where they can convert their ideas into reality.

Fr Mathew Vattathara, Director of the 2001-founded RSET, described the new facility an “excellent instance”of Indo-German collaboration. “This lays the foundation for further relations between Steag and RSET, and German and Indian academia and industry,” he said.

As a leading provider of services in power generation and transmission, Steag Energy Services India is the wholly-owned subsidiary of the 1937-founded Steag Energy Services GmbH. It is part of the Essen-based Steag group with an installed generating capacity of over 11000 MWs of coal, wind, solar, biogas, mine gas and geothermal plants. The company also owns and operates a 90-MW battery storage system.

With over 1,600 full-time employees in India and a portfolio of services covering Engineering, O&M and IT solutions, Steag counts several important public and private entities as their clients. The firm is also associated as the owner-engineer for the waste-to-energy plant coming up at Brahmapuram in Ernakulam district.

The centre intends to work closely with other stakeholders such as Cochin Refinery, FACT, Cochin Shipbuilding Yard, Kochi Metro, Kochi Water Metro, Kochi airport, Cochin Smart Mission Ltd (CSML), Fraunhofer Innovation Hub, the Kerala Startup Mission institutions like Makers Village, Fablabs, government institutions and think-tanks. This will help channel the talent of over 4,000 Rajagiri faculty and students at the graduate, post-graduate and doctoral levels in engineering, social sciences and business studies.

The Steag centre at RSET is one of the several Indo-German initiatives in Kochi. Germany is assisting KSML’s capacity-building. Last year, Fraunhofer started an innovation hub in Kochi. Rajagiri, which hosts a bi-annual Indo German Summit to foster collaborative programs with German universities, is planning to have students from German Universities join students of Rajagiri in the training programs at the Centre for Smart City Technologies from next year.


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