In 2015, Ahmedabad University and Olin College of Engineering formed a partnership to promote educational innovation. The partnership includes a faculty exchange program aimed at integrating project-based learning and design thinking into the engineering curriculum at Ahmedabad University, thus offering a new model for education in India.
Founded in 1997, Olin College of Engineering, Massachusetts, USA is a prestigious engineering college, ranked third in the country according to the US News and World Report 2013. Olin's multidisciplinary program, incorporating project-based learning, entrepreneurship, innovation and design into the engineering curriculum, has become a model for STEM institutions around the world pursuing curricular innovation.
"We look forward to working in partnership with Olin College to expand our commitment to curricular innovation and offer a global quality education in India,” said Prafull Anubhai, Chairman of the Board of Management at Ahmedabad University. “Leveraging Olin's strengths as a pioneer in educational innovation, this partnership will offer our students and faculty a unique set of new opportunities to enrich their educational experiences and provide new models for pedagogy more broadly."
"We are delighted to be collaborating with Ahmedabad University, a partner pursuing a vision of educational innovation very much like our own,” said Richard K. Miller, President of Olin College. “I think there will be a great deal of mutual learning in this partnership, and I particularly look forward to the insights we will gain by seeing Olin's educational innovations translated into a new cultural context and implemented across a comprehensive curriculum."
Established in 2009 in India's Gujarat state and privately funded, Ahmedabad University is known for its extensive industry contacts, entrepreneurial mindset and broad-based curricular approach. Having implemented project-based learning from the start, the university extended this approach to engineering education with the establishment of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Prior to the partnership, each course taught at the institute incorporates at least one project but courses themselves were taught in a very traditional manner.
Now, the university learns from Olin, and is gradually converting “a significant number of the courses in our curriculum from their current traditional modes of delivery to project courses," said Anubhai. "Whatever changes this may require, such as modifying the curriculum, combining courses into multi-disciplinary modules, creating infrastructure, labs, workshops and manpower, we are committed to doing."
Officials at Ahmedabad University believe that the university's embrace of a multi-disciplinary, project-based approach provides its graduates with vital real-world experience and superior problem-solving skills and help them move away from traditional methods of rote learning.
The formal partnership caps a strong working relationship established between the two institutions over several years. Student teams from Olin and Ahmedabad have worked together on joint engineering design projects as part of Olin's Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE) class. There have also been several reciprocal faculty visits. In fact, faculty from SEAS have attended the Olin Collaboratory's Summer Institute. A presentation President Miller gave during a 2013 visit to Ahmedabad was a spur for pursuing closer ties.
The faculty exchange began in January 2016. Two faculty members per semester from the Engineering School join Olin over four semesters to learn about Olin's multidisciplinary, design-based engineering curriculum. They observe and co-teach in Olin courses and participate in all aspects of faculty life. While at Olin, they will become immersed in the Olin environment, absorb faculty values and practices, and return to Ahmedabad in a position to lead innovation efforts.