Established in 1854, the College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) is one of the oldest in Asia and one of the hallowed leaders in technical education, harnessing some of India’s best and the brightest.While the CoEP has many firsts to its credit, its inclusion under the Technical Engineering Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQUIP) — supported by the World Bank and implemented by the Ministry of Human Resource Development — has triggered a transformation in the institute’s philosophy, making it sharper enabler of innovation.The TEQIP — the World Bank’s longest-running project in the field of higher education — has proved to be the kiss of life for 163-year-old CoEP, rejuvenating the institute and its education standards.From 2003 onwards, when the college was chosen – through a nationally competitive process – to be one of the 127 engineering and technical institutes supported by the Government of India and World Bank’s Technical/Engineering Education Quality Improvement Project (TEQIP), the institute has undergone a major overhaul in its quality of education besides offering a diverse range of programs.“The Government of Maharashtra had granted us complete autonomy in 2003 as a precondition for participating in TEQIP. We then revamped our curriculum using IIT Bombay as the role model,” said Dr. Bharatkumar Ahuja, Director, CoEP, adding that the CoEP’s curriculum today changes by around 25 per cent each year.The practices under TEQIP- Phase II, like introducing a choice-based credit system, making Mathematics courses in all eight semesters in undergraduate and post-graduate programs mandatory and introducing mandatory courses on ‘Innovation’ and ‘Entrepreneurship’ in the second and third years has immensely bolstered the students’ ability to cope with industry demands.“For instance, given the growing importance of bio-medical engineering, the institute introduced a new course in biology way back in 2007. Now, IIT Bombay has emulated us by introducing a similar course,” he said.Prof. Ahuja commented that while CoEP has always blazed many a trail in technical innovation, it was the TEQIP (Phase II) that resulted in shoring up the college’s Post Graduation education standards. The institute received a massive fund influx of Rs. 25 crore 17.20 crore under TEQIP-II for bolstering their higher education programme.“We ended up introducing five new programs that eventually resulted in increased student intake,” said Dr. Ahuja, remarking that the TEQIP program has led to the empowerment of students and faculty.Its shibboleth of ‘faculty first and students’ always’ chimes in with TEQIP’s aim of producing more employable and higher quality engineers throughout the country.Before TEQIP, the CoEP had 99 regular faculty members of whom only 11 were Ph.D.’s. Now, the institute boasts 217 member-strong faculty — 118 of whom are Ph.D.’s.“There are programs at World Bank which endure for barely four years. But TEQIP has transcended time constraints,” said Prof. Franciso Marmolejo, Lead, Global Solutions Group on Tertiary Education, World Bank.Prof. Marmolejo, who is also the World Bank’s Lead Education Specialist in India, observed of CoEP that its core virtues of transparency, a participatory approach, a willingness to learn and willingness to share has led to the institute not only bolstering its own standards, but actively taking the lead in mentoring ‘weaker institutes’ in economically challenged states.Since its inclusion under TEQIP in 2003, the CoEP’s TEQIP audit score has shot up from 5 grade points in 2005 to 9.5 in 2009.“TEQIP Phase- III, begun recently, will carry forward the quality-oriented reforms initiated under TEQIP-II. Its focus will be on shoring up the quality of engineering education system in India’s low-income states. Around 100 government engineering colleges from these states will be paired with well-performing colleges from previous phases of TEQIP, like CoEP,” he said, noting that an important feature of TEQIP has been to build bridges between institutes.“The project has leveraged the expertise of the best in the country — the IITs and IIMs — to improve the academic rigor in TEQIP colleges while also strengthening leadership practices,” said Tara Béteille, TEQIP’s project leader, adding that this kind of resource-sharing and leveraging was especially vital, given that India has more than 30,000 higher education institutes spread across the country.