PALS hopes to become a centre of excellence

N Ramakrishnan Chennai | Updated on October 29, 2019 | Published on October 30,

PALS, an educational initiative by pan-IIT alumni that is now in the
seventh year, hopes to become like a centre of excellence that will
create workflow and processes for similar such projects across the
Mohan Narayanan, Chairman, PALS, says the programme launched in
2012 by IIT alumni to help improve standards of education by
targeting both students and teachers can be replicated in other places
where there is a strong institute-industry linkage to make a similar
It started off with six institutions in 2012 and now covers 32
engineering colleges in Chennai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Madurai.
PALS, which earlier stood for Pan-IIT Alumni Leadership Series, has
impacted more than 28,000 students and over 2,250 faculty members
since its inception, according to him. In 2018-19 alone, it impacted
more than 13,100 students and 1,250 faculty members. PALS has also
tied up with more than 50 companies for eld visits.
Narayanan, who has a Master’s in electrical engineering from IITMadras,
says the need for a nishing-school kind of arrangement for
engineering students where the IIT alumni could contribute was felt
because of the gaps that were noticed when these graduates went for
jobs, especially in the software industry. A few IIT alumni got together
to see if they could help in bridging this gap, using the infrastructure

10/30/2019 PALS hopes to become a centre of excellence – The Hindu BusinessLine 4/7
Published on October 30, 2019
that IIT-Madras provided. While nishing schools typically focussed
on soft skills, the idea behind PALS was to hone the engineering
knowledge and thinking abilities of the students.
The programme for students includes campus lectures, leadership
development, skill development and innovative thinking. The students
also get to spend time on IIT-Madras campus with laboratory sessions
and classroom lectures and visit to the IITM Research Park, which
houses a number of start-ups.
Along with focussing on students, PALS has programmes for faculty
development, according to Narayanan, who has worked in companies
such as Macneill & Magor, Tata Burroughs and Cognizant, before
turning an entrepreneur. He is also an angel investor. A large part of
the programme was on faculty development, where faculty members
from the participating institutes were brought up-to-date on the latest
methods of teaching engineering concepts and subjects, according to
PALS has tied up with more than 50 companies where eld visits are
arranged to the factories, for both the faculty and the students for
them to see how some of the engineering concepts are implemented
on the shop oor. The programme charges ₹2 lakh a year per
participating institute with the money being used to conduct
programmes in various locations and for maintaining an
administrative ofce.
The programme typically covers students who are in the third year of
their course, says Narayanan. Faculty members get to spend a few days
at IITM’s teacher learning centre where the teachers are taught how to
teach. “This,” says Narayanan, “is a three-day residential programme
where the TLC (Teacher Learning Centre) teaches teachers how to
teach,” adds Narayanan.

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