Spread over 121 acres of greenery, the Bengal Engineering and Science University (Besu), in Howrah’s Shibpur, is among the top five preferred destinations for those wanting to pursue an engineering degree in West Bengal. Founded just a year before the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857, Besu, previously known as the Bengal Engineering College, got the status of a state university in 2004.
Since then a lot of reforms have swept through its corridors. Besu has been recognised as an institute of national importance by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development and is awaiting Parliament’s approval to become the first Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology (IIEST).
There are three independent faculties in the institute, namely engineering and technology, basic and applied sciences and social and management sciences.
It goes without saying that the engineering and technology division is the best in Besu. Ten branches of engineering are taught at the undergraduate level. They are mechanical, civil, electrical, electronics and telecommunications, computer science, IT, metallurgy, mining, architecture and aerospace engineering. The institute also offers masters in all the ten branches taught at the undergraduate level, besides four more in mechatronics and robotics, material science, very largescale integration (VLSI) and safety and occupational health.
Most of the students receive multiple job offers. Top companies such as The Tata Group, Amazon, Microsoft, PwC, Ernst and Young, Google, HSBC, Indian Oil, Bhel, Coal India, Mott Mcdonal, Acclaris and Texas Instruments visit the campus for head-hunting. “Sometimes the annual pay package offered to students is way above the take-home salaries of senior-most professors,” chuckles Sanyal.
The other big companies who recruit freshers from here are TCS, Wipro, Cognizant, Maruti and Accenture. “I landed three offers from Samsung, Cognizant and Accenture,” says Piyush Duftary, a final-year computer science and technolgy student. Biswarup Bhattacharyya, a final-year computer science engineering student, bagged four offers from Mu Sigma, Cognizant, Infosys and Ericsson Global
Besides engineering, Besu also offers postgraduate courses in applied physics, applied chemistry, applied mathematics, applied geology and nutritional sciences. Though the two-year, full-time MBA course is taught here, the placement is not up to the mark.
The research and development activities are funded by national and international agencies of repute, including AICTE, DST, CSIR, DRDO, Intel, Nasa-USA and the World Bank.
“Almost 50 per cent of our faculty, including our vice-chancellor, registrar and me, are former students of Besu, and all of us teach with great care. The atmosphere is very informal but bunking classes is not encouraged,” says Manas Sanyal, dean, social and management sciences, who also looks after placements.
The main disadvantage of Besu is that it lacks research scholars due to limited funds. Considering the status and heritage, the university authorities feel Besu deserves much more state funding than what it gets at present. To attract good research scholars, Besu has to provide stipends from its internal funds. Lack of teachers is another drawback. “There are not enough faculty members to give equal attention to students,” rues Souvanic Roy, head of the architecture department. Authorities believe the problem would be solved once it gets the status of an IIEST. The best of the faculty would find it attractive to teach in Besu since the salary would be on a par with IIT professors.
The institute is currently laying stress on advanced technology in different areas of engineering. “In electrical engineering, we are initiating a big project on development of electric cars. The faculty members have received about Rs 2 crore grant to carry out research in different areas of medical technology,” says Ajoy Ray, vice-chancellor, Besu.
Seventy per cent of the students stay in the hostels within the campus, which has a capacity to accommodate about 2,000 of them. There is a separate building for gym and a swimming pool. Besides, there are two huge green fields called the Oval and the Lords for sports.
The best thing about Besu is that it has been able to tame student unrest that had been a regular feature in the past. The institute has done away with student election and ragging is banned. “We no longer elect but select our class representatives,” says Bhattacharyya.
“I loved every moment here and the teachers were wonderful. But the pay packages offered during our times were not that great,” says Arghya Paul, a former mechanical engineering student now working with an MNC.
WHAT IS IT? A premier engineering institute of national importance
WHO’S THE BOSS? Ajoy Kumar Ray is the vice-chancellor
Where is it? Botanical Garden,
Great teachers, good placements,
Not enough funds to attract and retain good research scholars,
Inadequate teacher student ratio