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Overthere
A cut above

Far from the madding crowd of Calcutta and its suburbs, the Academy of Technology (AOT) at Adisaptagram in Hooghly district has joined the top league of tech schools in Bengal within seven years of its inception. Its remarkable piece of architecture, which is spread over 10 acres and blends with lush green, is close to the Kalyani industrial hub, around 45km from Calcutta.

“We want to build an environment that helps students enhance their intellectual, emotional and physical development,” says Jagannath Banerjee, founder and chairman of the institute. An alumnus of IIT-Kharagpur and IIM-Calcutta, Banerjee and his team selected faculty members with at least a masters in technology or engineering and 10 years of teaching experience. In fact, one out of eight of them has a PhD. “Thanks to our faculty, today the AOT is well-known for its academic standard, examination system and placement record,” says director Dilip Bhattacharya, who had been a professor of electronics and electrical communication engineering at IIT Kharagpur.

“Our superior teaching-learning environment tries to create a genuine interest in the subject. We also lay emphasis on attendance,” adds Bhattacharya. In fact, the administration rewards those who have 100 per cent attendance in an effort to discourage “class bunking”, which is prevalent in most tech schools.

“We have also enforced a foolproof examination system — be it for an internal exam or the university exam — to maintain academic integrity and make the students work hard for every mark,” says deputy director Murari Mohan Kundu.

“Such strict discipline naturally doesn’t make the administration very popular with the students initially, but in the long run they appreciate it when they excel in the exam and get good placements,” says Banerjee. Bonny Banerjee, an alumnus of the 2007 batch who is working with the software firm Capgemini at Hyderabad, agrees. “The strict discipline enforced in college helped me adapt to corporate norms,” he says.

AOT offers BTech courses in eight disciplines, including computer science and engineering, electronics and communication engineering, information technology and mechanical engineering. It also offers a postgraduate (MTech) course in computer application and PhD programmes.

“Our computer centre consists of eight sophisticated laboratories equipped with the latest equipment and a round-the-clock power support,” says Dilip Kumar Maity, professor of computer science and engineering. “We encourage students to learn through experiments.”

“The emphasis on practical training helps us gain sound technical knowledge,” says Arka Chakraborty, a fourth-year student of IT. “The faculty members do their best to help us stay ahead in the placement race,” adds Deepta Guha, a third-year computer science student.

In addition to the technical know-how, AOT students are trained in leadership and communication skills. “For this, we invite experts at regular intervals,” says Banerjee.

One of the greatest strengths of the institute is its eight-member placement cell stationed at Salt Lake, Calcutta. “We not only try to provide the maximum number of campus interview opportunities to students, but also offer them prolonged placement support for more than two years,” says Sujoy Krishna Mitra, head of training and placement. As a result, placement statistics rose to 92 per cent between 2005 and 2009.

“Despite the current slowdown, 43 companies visited the campus in 2010 and a sizeable number of students has already bagged offers,” he adds. Nokia Siemens Network, Mahindra Satyam, Godrej & Boyce, Ambuja Cements, CMC Ltd, and so on, are the lead recruiters this year.

The AOT is approved by the All India Council for Technical Education and affiliated to the West Bengal University of Technology. It charges Rs 44,000 a year as tuition fee for BTech, and around Rs 50,000 during admission.

However, the fee structure is likely to be revised next season. “Since a large number of students hail from poor families in the rural areas, we offer at least 90 full scholarships and a number of fee waiver schemes,” says Banerjee.

According to Banerjee, one of the few drawbacks of the institute is its weak industry-academia interface. “Because the growth of industry in the state has somewhat slackened, it’s becoming difficult to involve big names in research and development projects,” he says.

The institute is seeking tie-ups with industries in other states. It is also planning collaborations with foreign universities to attain international standards.”

Vital Statistics

WHAT IS IT? A degree engineering college affiliated to the West Bengal University of Technology

WHO’S THE BOSS? Dilip Bhattachary is the director

where is it? G.T. Road, Adisaptagram, Hooghly Phone: 9836197157 / (033) 23595873

Website: www.aot.edu.in

pros Strict discipline, fool-proof examination system, robust placement cell

CONS Secluded campus, weak academia-industry interface

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