The evolution of Shibpur’s premier engineering institution, IIEST Shibpur, has been a story of visionary transformation, academic excellence, and pioneering contributions to India’s technical education and research landscape.
The end of World War II marked a pivotal moment for Bengal’s higher education system, particularly in the realm of engineering and technical education. At this time, the authorities recognized the urgent need to expand and modernize the educational landscape. It was within this context that a visionary committee was formed, known as the ‘Committee for the Development of Higher Engineering and Technical Education in Bengal,’ and under the chairmanship of the Director of Public Instruction, it laid the foundation for the remarkable evolution of an institution that would go on to become the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur (IIEST Shibpur).
The committee’s recommendations included two fundamental plans – an ‘Immediate’ plan and a ‘Five-Year Plan.’ The ‘Immediate’ plan aimed to increase student enrollment, enhance the curriculum, recruit high-quality teaching staff, expand the range of degree courses, and foster closer ties with industry. The ‘Five-Year Plan’ aspired to elevate the institution into a modern, well-equipped center of excellence with facilities for postgraduate studies and research.
Growth and Development
In 1949, a significant milestone was achieved when a new building was constructed, and all academic departments were relocated to this facility. This set the stage for further growth and development. In 1954, postgraduate programs in Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, and Metallurgical engineering were introduced, alongside a postgraduate certificate course in Naval Architecture. The institution also introduced doctoral programs, thus enriching its research endeavors, which had already been underway since 1901.
One remarkable episode in IIEST Shibpur’s history occurred in 1954-55 when an agreement was signed between the institution and the University of Wisconsin, USA. This partnership brought six guest professors from the United States to IIEST Shibpur, while five teachers from the college traveled to the USA as Research Associates. Known as the Technical Cooperation Programme of the USA, this initiative bolstered the college’s laboratories, postgraduate programs, and research facilities, fostering a spirit of international collaboration.
A Milestone for IIEST Shibpur
IIEST Shibpur reached an extraordinary milestone when it celebrated its centenary function, inaugurated by Dr. B. C. Roy in December 1956, with the honorable presence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru during the concluding session in January 1957. The institution continued its expansion with the introduction of the Department of Electronics & Telecommunications Engineering in 1956 and the Department of Mining Engineering.
Another pivotal moment occurred during the 1959-60 academic year when the college launched a Teachers’ Training course. The institution ventured into the realm of computer science by establishing its first Computer Centre in 1976-77, followed by a Microprocessor Laboratory in 1979. The 125th anniversary celebration in 1981, inaugurated by the President of India, Sri N. Sanjiva Reddy, was a testament to the institution’s rich history and contributions.
Addition of Computer Science & Technology Branch
In 1982, a new degree course in Computer Science & Technology was initiated. Subsequently, the department expanded to offer Master of Engineering courses in 1988 and Master of Computer Applications courses in 1991. During this time, the college also became a participating institute under the World Bank EIDP Project, receiving substantial funding to upgrade teaching facilities and laboratories in the Electronics and Computer Science Departments. This project introduced email facilities, connecting the university to the information superhighway.
The alumni of IIEST Shibpur have achieved prominent positions in national and international organizations, a testament to the institution’s impact. In recognition of its distinguished service over 143 years, the college was elevated to the status of a “Deemed University” in 1992 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the President of India, inaugurated the University in March 1993.
The journey continued as, in 2004, B.E. College (Deemed University) underwent a significant transformation. It was converted into a full-fledged university through an act in the West Bengal Assembly, and it was rebranded as Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur. In addition to its traditional engineering disciplines, the university began offering M.Sc. programs in basic sciences.
The final chapter in this remarkable story unfolded in March 2014 when the Government of India took over Bengal Engineering and Science University, Shibpur. It was subsequently converted into an Institute of National Importance through an act of Parliament and renamed as the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur. This transformation solidified its standing as a premier institution for engineering and technical education in India.
The journey of IIEST Shibpur is a testament to the power of vision, dedication, and the relentless pursuit of excellence. It has evolved over the decades, consistently adapting to the changing educational landscape and contributing significantly to the nation’s technical progress and innovation. As it stands today, IIEST Shibpur remains a symbol of India’s engineering prowess and a source of pride for all who have been a part of its illustrious history.