IIT-M (Indian Institute of Technology-Madras) has taken the lead with Biotechnology which is being considered by most students merely as a launching pad for an IT career, educational institutes are now realizing that they need to change this trend.
The department of Biotechnology has done away with their four-year B.Tech Biotechnology programme and their five year dual degree. Instead, they are introducing two dual degrees, M.Tech in Biological Engineering and M.S Biological Sciences.
Biotechnology is a research-intensive and also requires good experimental skills, which is usually obtained by working on long-duration projects and integrating a variety of experimental skills. Prof. Guhan Jayaram says “Ph.D students have the research experience and well-developed lab skills, which the B.Tech students lack”. If the students have to be hired for performing routine tasks, an M.Sc. Biotechnology student can do this as a B.Tech one, he notes.
Mr.Doble on the issue says “The problem with most B.Tech Biotechnology programmes is that majority of the faculty are either pure biologists or pure chemical engineers without sufficient depth of study in biotechnology”. The new curriculum emphasizes more on the general application of engineering principles to biological systems. These are followed by specialized package electives in fields such as bio-process development, computational biology, bio-materials engineering, and synthetic biology.
The new course in biological engineering will offer a greater breadth in the undergraduate programmes, help students develop a better perspective before specializing in one area and foster better inter-disciplinary research. Says Prof. Jayaraman