More than 100 institutes have shown their willingness to start the course

With the intention to scout young talents, country's premier defence research agency, the DRDO, has collaborated with All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) for conducting a regular M.Tech in Defence Technologies, with six specialised streams. This is for the first time that such a specialised course for various requirements related to defence and security applications is being offered in the country.

The DRDO believes that the move will eventually create a large pool of talented workforce for the defence sector.

While the objective of the course is to develop skilled human resource in the field of latest defence technologies, it also aims to enhance the interaction of students with the defence scientists and industry personnel to have real time experience in the technology development and technology deployment for defence systems.

The DRDO officials claim that the M.Tech in Defence Technology will provide employment opportunities in fast expanding defence research and manufacturing sector (DRDO, DPSUs, private industries, and ordnance factories) and other similar sectors. Besides, it will help in establishing start-ups and pursuing business opportunities in the defence sector. "This will also help industry to work on know-why approach in addition to know-how," a defence official said.

For the last six decades, the DRDO has been pursuing basic and applied research in collaboration with academia, and the latest move is towards expanding the research base for developing emerging and futuristic technologies to accelerate the technological self-reliance in defence and security of the nation, said a defence scientist.

Several countries offer such courses in collaboration with defence research establishments like Cranfield University in England and Naval Postgraduate School in California.

The M.Tech program has six specialized streams—Combat Technology, Aero Technology, Naval Technology, Communication Systems & Sensors, Directed Energy Technology and High Energy Materials Technology. M.Tech. Defence Technology program can be conducted at any AICTE-affiliated institutes/universities, IITs, NITs or private engineering institutes. Institute of Defence Scientists & Technologists (IDST) will be the main coordinating agency for commencement of the program. IDST will help in planning, coordinating, executing, reviewing and monitoring of the program as per the schedule agreed by the academic institute. IDST will also coordinate the interaction between the DRDO laboratories, institutes and industries. It can prioritise academic institutes in the vicinity of large clusters of DRDO labs.

"It would infuse interest in students and motivate them to pursue their career in research and development for defence and security to join defence, PSUs and private defence industries," said a DRDO official, and added that students will also be provided opportunities to conduct their main thesis work in DRDO laboratories, defence PSUs and industries.

Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy, head of DRDO, said this course is important for the nation in the goal towards self-reliance. "Design and development of the system should be done in the country," Reddy said, while calling upon the industry leaders to extend their support for this program and offer opportunities for the students.

Though there are no specialised courses related to defence and security in country, the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) Pune, CME Pune, selected institutes and industries have been providing required specialised knowledge related to defence to students and armed forces personnel. However, these institutes have limited number of seats, which are not sufficient to address the requirement of trained manpower for contributing in technology and product development related to defence, DRDO officials maintained.

The course has been designed to produce postgraduates who will have the necessary theoretical and experimental knowledge, skill and aptitude in various areas of defence technologies and inspire them to carry out R&D in defence. The students will be provided valuable exposure to various state of the art defence systems and contemporary technologies through classes, lectures and thesis work in DRDO labs, defence PSUs & private defence industries.

"This collaborative effort of DRDO, AICTE and industries will create jobs in the defence sector, and the academic-industry trained workforce will immensely contribute in realising the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat," an official said. The official further explained that in addition, abundant manpower, proficient in identification, investigation and analysis of complex problems associated with defence technologies will be readily available. "This will further help in laying the foundation of robust defence R&D and manufacturing ecosystem in the country."

Soon after launching the program, DRDO headquarters and AICTE have been flooded with lot of queries from institutes and students. More than 100 institutes have given overwhelming response towards the course and shown their willingness to start the course in this academic year itself.

In addition to this, there are many private institutes/universities like Sharda University, GLA Mathura, and Amity University that have also shown their interest in commencing this course in this academic session (2021-22), another DRDO officials explained.

Since this program is a multi-disciplinary post-graduation, a total of 48 disciplines of engineering have been selected as an eligibility criteria to get into the M.Tech program. AICTE chairman Anil Sahasrabudhe said the move will not only generate skilled manpower pool in defence technology but "will also create spin-off benefits in terms of new defence start-ups and entrepreneurs."

India has been talking about improving industry-academia connect and co-creation and promotion of specialised education and R&D efforts. In the last five years, DRDO has given impetus to create research eco-system for directed research by establishing the centres of excellence within premier institutes and universities. The DRDO has been funding the research projects through various mechanisms to engage academia under its Grant-in-Aid scheme.