The Telegraph
| Thursday, July 25, 2013 |

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Surging ahead

As you drive along the Grand Trunk Road towards the north and cross Bandel, the erstwhile Portuguese colony, the picturesque campus of Academy of Technology (AOT) comes into view. Nestled between the industrial hubs of Hooghly and Kalyani, the institute has turned into one of the most renowned private engineering colleges in eastern India within 10 years of its existence.

School drool

Founded in 2003, the institute is approved by the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and affiliated to the West Bengal University of Technology (WBUT). It offers three courses — a four-year bachelor's degree in technology (BTech), a two-year master's degree in technology (MTech) and a three-year master's degree in computer applications (MCA). There are 600 seats in the six streams of BTech, including applied electronics and instrumentation engineering, electrical engineering, information technology, mechanical engineering and so on. MTech is offered in four streams.

For the BTech programme, students are admitted from the merit lists of the West Bengal Joint Entrance Exams (WBJEE) and All India Engineering Entrance Exams (AIEEE). Some students are laterally admitted in the second year of BTech based on their scores in West Bengal Joint Entrance for Lateral Entry Test (Jelet). MCA students are admitted from the merit list of Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (Gate) and Post-graduate Entrance Examination (PGET) conducted by WBUT. MCA students are admitted from the merit list of Joint Entrance of Computer Applications (Jeca)

Director speak

According to Jagannath Banerjee, founder chairman, AOT, the institute has been constantly reinventing itself ever since it was founded in 2003. "A rigorous academic system run by former professors of IIT-Kharagpur and Jadavpur University makes AOT a haven for budding engineers. There is strict discipline on the campus. Students who bunk classes are not allowed to appear in the exam." In other words, the students are made to work harder. "We arrange mentors for slow learners and organise placement training for developing hard and soft skills right from the first semester. Companies that recruit our students never complain about their skills gap and most of our alumni are well placed," he adds. The recruiters' list includes all the top tech companies in the IT as well as the core sectors.

According to Banerjee, the campus and the hostels have Wi-fi connectivity. The digital library, which has subscriptions to over 500 journals, can be accessed from anywhere on the campus. "We are also in the process of developing a unique e-learning platform so that our students can attain the academic rigour of top global tech schools. This will integrate elements from the open online platforms such as EdX, Udacity or NPTEL," adds Banerjee.

Students are also offered special training for international standardised tests such as GRE, GMAT, IELTS and Toefl. "A number of students have qualified for prestigious scholarships for higher studies abroad," notes Banerjee.

Jobs ahoy

uuEven though the placement scenario is pretty bad elsewhere, nearly 80 per cent of the students of the current batch have got placement offers. "Almost all the top companies visit our campus," says Abhijit Biswas, the head of the placement cell. "We've been recruiting fresh graduates from this institute for the last five years. Most of them have turned out to be good performers," says a recruiter from a top IT company, who doesn't wish to be named.

Concurs Camellia Singha Roy, who graduated from AOT in 2012, and is now working as a management trainee at Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd. "Five of us were recruited from the campus last year. Our seniors here are quite impressed by our performance." Her batchmate Joydip Ghosh is working as a software engineer in Capgemini, a global technology company. "Thanks to the discipline and hard work at AOT, I've been able to excel in the workplace." Adds Snehasish Banerjee, who is pursuing a master's degree in information systems at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore,"As a student, we hated the pressure and hectic schedule. But now I realise how I was groomed to multi-task and meet numerous tight deadlines."

Says a recruitment manager of Tech Mahindra, an IT company, "We prefer AOTians to most other private engineering colleges because they are strong in engineering, maths and physics,"

Beyond classroom

uuBut it's not all work at AOT. "The student community promotes different inter and intra college competitions in athletics, basketball, badminton, cricket, football, volleyball, and so on. We have coaches for most of these teams," says Banerjee. AOT is the reigning champion of the inter-college basketball competition of WBUT. "Our students have also won gold and silver medals at inter-college athletics meets," he adds.

"Our college is far away from the city, but there are lots of things to keep us busy," says Ashmita Kapoor, a final-year student who has secured placement in Oracle, a top tech company. According to her, staying far away from the madding crowd helps students focus on studies. "We don't get to roam around shopping malls but hone our skills in all sorts of creative pursuits." Analect, a platform for creative writing, painting, quiz, debate and photography is active throughout the year. "I've been the editor of Wallzine, a wall magazine produced by the members of Analect," says Ashmita. Techies are encouraged to participate in Tech-Fiesta where aspiring engineers show their talents in innovations with software, hardware and robotics.

The community for social causes organises awareness programmes in adult education and computer literacy as well as campaigns against drug addiction, ragging and tobacco. "The community has helped AOT turn into a ragging-free campus," says Banerjee.

Fest fervour

uuAOT's annual fest is organised with pomp and great enthusiasm every year in the month of January. "We have a community for performing arts called Ardour which organises the three-day cultural fest called Arcadia every year. Not only do students take part in the fest, celebrity performers participate too," says Kapoor.

All said and done, the secluded campus keeps most Calcutta students away from AOT. It takes nearly one and half hour to travel to the campus from the city. "We provide buses for our students at different points to facilitate their journey to and from Calcutta," says Banerjee.

Fast Fact

ACADEMY OF TECHNOLOGY
Location » Adisaptagram, Hooghly
The Boss » Jagannath Banerjee is the founder chairman
Flagship programme » BTech, MTech, MCA
Website » www.aot.edu.in
Pros » Qualified faculty members, strong placement cell
Cons » Inconvenient location, no hangout zone

Prasun Chaudhuri