Competition, a powerful training tool
Competitions in maritime colleges and those held at inter-collegiate level are proving to be a boon for raising quality standards
Competitions are gaining popularity in marine engineering training institutes, one reason being that the Institute of Marine Engineers India (IMEI) is actively promoting these by sponsoring a series of competitions not just on their own but also canvassing among companies to provide financial support/sponsorship to conduct more such competitions. Seen as a powerful and unrivalled training tool, maritime training institutes in the state of Maharashtra in Western India too are helping cadets reap benefits in their grooming process by encouraging their participation in competitions.
Conscious about the need to raise the standard of seafaring by ensuring that graduates passing out are of better quality, IMEI has taken upon itself to help raise the teaching standards in the institutes in different ways. Hence competitions are considered as an important platform to help develop various skill sets of the cadets of institutes.
Two major annual events are being held consistently. The first is the Technical Paper Competitions that has proved to be invaluable in encouraging budding young engineers of the various marine engineering colleges. This was established in 2005 and promoted jointly by the Marine Engineering & Research Institute (MERI) and IMEI. The other is the MERI-Castrol Technical Paper Competition, a company-sponsored event which offers hefty prizes. Besides participating in the state level competitions cadets have the opportunity to participate in competitions conducted by their own institutes as well.
V. K Jain, Honorary Secretary General of IMEI says that by helping to conduct such competitions for the maritime training institutes in the state, it is giving back to the alma mater and the country what it has received.
“During our time it was a different situation,” he points out. “We are helping to enthuse potential candidates who while participating are able to exercise their professional and independent judgment. Such competitions help cadets to enhance their accuracy, speed and efficiency and work under pressure as the groups which are competing have to face cross examination by a panel of judges after they finish their presentation. IMEI believes in motivating students and in this regard has instituted cash awards for the winners. We also have technical essay competitions and Model making competition. The later encourages students to join and design model boats complete with motor and all other features.”
This year a judge remarked, “During our time it was totally different and we did not have such opportunities. Today, the cadets have the electronic media, websites, Google search and access to several avenues to help garner and accumulate information and gain knowledge. I wish I could have been able to take part in such events during my cadet days.”
The organizing parties contend that competing in groups’ calls for collaborating, which provides opportunities for one partner to internalize the skills of the other, and thus improve the position both within and without the alliance. This yields a fine-grained understanding of the determinants of inter-partner learning: that not all partners are equally adept at learning; that asymmetries in learning alter the relative bargaining power of partners; that stability and longevity may be inappropriate metrics of partnership success; that partners may have competitive, as well as collaborative aims, vis-à-vis each other; and that process may be more important than structure in determining learning outcomes.
It is an active learning process and the best way to let students be actively involved. Competitions have been motivating and promoting students to work harder. Usually, when a competition topic is assigned to the students, students are asking more questions than regular homework. Students even try to learn beyond the normal classroom curriculum in order to win the competition. The classroom creates a learner-centric environment.