TEAM focuses both on the technical and management aspects of transport engineering which ultimately helps to produce qualified manpower for the transport and road sectors.
Roads are to a country what blood vessels are to a human body. When the blood vessels are in a bad condition, we become sick. Similarly, when the roads are in a bad shape, the country becomes sick. Today, road transport has become quite difficult due to various reasons such as maintenance and expansion of roads. Lack of coordination among the authorities concerned for road expansion, haphazard laying of drinking water and sewage pipes alongside the messy installation of optical fiber, communication cables, and electrical wires and poles have created a lot of inconvenience for both pedestrians and vehicles. So, it has become quite important for the authorities to have organised and planned approaches in order to avoid disturbances in the road transport system.
Also, we often hear people complain about the lack of human resource which understands both development and management. Nepal Engineering College (NEC) has made an attempt to address this by starting an academic course, Master of Science (MSc) in Transportation Engineering and Management (TEAM). The main objective of this course is to prepare the students to resolve all transport related problems both in rural and urban areas.
“We aim to produce postgraduate manpower which knows how to manage transportation,” says Prof Dr Khem Raj Sharma, Director of the Center for Postgraduate Studies (CPS) at NEC. He adds that though there are two factors important for development - physical infrastructure and management, "unfortunately, we separate these two factors which is totally wrong."
Sharma thinks that infrastructure development and its management are complementary to each other and, therefore, need to move ahead simultaneously. He also thinks there is a need for professionals who understand both – infrastructure development as well as its management. "This was the reason why NEC introduced the TEAM programme, combining both technical and managerial aspects of transportation."
Affiliated to Pokhara University, NEC started the programme in 2010 and there is no other university in the country that offers a similar programme. This year, the sixth batch will graduate. “More than 60 students have already graduated apart from the students who are yet to submit their dissertations,” says Thusitha Chandani Shahi, Program Coordinator and Associate Professor at the Department of Civil Engineering at NEC.
When asked about the ongoing unmanaged road expansion and laying of pipes for the Melamchi drinking water project in the valley, Prof Sharma said that the failure to manage these works properly has led to heavy air pollution and traffic congestions. "Proper coordination among the government bodies concerned such as Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), telecommunications service providers, Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DoWSS) is often missing. As a result, the problems keep repeating," says Sharma.
"The government authorities have the technical knowledge of roads but they don't know what transportation management is. TEAM is an attempt to fill that knowledge gap," he says
Sharma says any project's chance of failure is high if the focus is only on just the technical aspects. We need to focus equally on the management aspects as well, he adds. “We initiated TEAM, thinking that integrating technical knowledge with management skills is equally important,” shares he. Sharma claims that the graduate students are going to play a very good role in the construction and management of roads and others means of transport. “TEAM focuses both on technical and management aspects which ultimately helps to create qualified manpower for the transport sector.”
A two-year course, TEAM is divided into four semesters of which the last semester includes thesis writing. Similarly, there are 45 credit hours allocated for course work and 15 credit hours for thesis.
The first semester syllabus contains Transportation Policy, Transportation Networking, Principles of Transport Engineering, Traffic Engineering and Elective. Likewise, Transport Planning Methods, Transport Economics, Transport Planning Studio, Elective I and Elective II are taught in the second semester. In the same way, the third semester includes Research Methods, Transport Safety, Organization Behaviour and Human Resource Management, Elective IV, Elective V and Elective VI while the fourth semester is all about thesis. The Elective courses include Pavement Engineering and Drainage System, Governance and Financing for Transport Infrastructure, Rural Transport Infrastructure Planning and Management, Geo-technical Engineering, GIS and Remote Sensing and Public Transportation Planning and Management. The programme provides practical knowledge and advanced occupational competence in designing highways and their operation and maintenance and management of other transport facilities. “The theoretical knowledge of TEAM helps students to find practical ideas while in field work,” mentions Shahi.
Road infrastructure is the basic foundation for all kinds of development. Nepal being a developing country, various infrastructure development projects including the projects of national pride are underway across the country. In the projects of national pride such as the Kathmandu –Terai Fast Track or the Pushpalal Lok Marg, there is a high demand for qualified manpower that has both technical knowledge and management skills. “Almost all TEAM graduates are employed,” says Shahi, "Most of them get job offers even before they complete the course."
According to Prof Sharma, TEAM graduates are employed in the public as well as the private sectors while some are working abroad as well. “We are encouraged by the feedback we are getting from our students,” he says proudly.
Shah says professionals working at government bodies such as the Department of Roads (Door) and the Department of Transport Management (Dot) get enrolled for the course, adding that TEAM graduates have high chance of getting through the civil service exams in the related fields.
Students with a bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering (at least second division) can sit for the entrance exam for the TEAM programme. The entrance exam has both objective and subjective questions. Applicants with work experience get 20 extra marks in the entrance exam.
The college receives more than 100 applications for the programme in one intake but only 30 students are enrolled annually - 27 students on the basis of merit and three students under full scholarship. Pokhara University conducts a separate exam for the scholarship. For this year, the classes started on March 14.
NEC has its own scholarship fund called Buddhi Sagar and Sabitri Devi Parajuli (BUS) Endowment which is supported by Dr Partha Mani Parajuli. The outstanding students are awarded the scholarship amount while attempting their thesis.
Since most of the TEAM students are job holders, NEC conducts the classes for TEAM in the evening from 4:30 to 8:30 in the winter and 5:30 to 9:30 in the summer.
The programme costs around Rs 350,000.