BEHIND THE GLOSS

India’s worst engineers come from the city that sends the most STEM students to the US

Quartz india
Quartz india

Hyderabad, the southern Indian city that sends the largest number of STEM students to the US, is home to India’s worst techies, a study has noted.

Software engineers from the city lag much behind those from other Indian cities when it comes to programming skills, a recent Aspiring Minds study of over 36,000 engineering students in India showed. The employability assessment company tested students from IT-related streams at over 500 colleges across India on Automata, a machine learning-based assessment of software development skills.

The study analysed students on their programming skills, practices, and ability to handle runtime complexity—the time taken to run a program. Hyderabad had a total score of just 3.49 on 100 while New Delhi had 23.48 and the Mumbai and Pune regions together had a score of 17.51.

Hyderabad, home to over 6.8 million people, is the common capital of two Indian states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Over the past decade or so, it has turned into a hub for thousands of students aspiring to enter the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology. Between 2008 and 2012, it sent over 26,000 students to the US, most pursuing science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees, a Brookings Institution report (pdf) said.

“Hyderabad, India, sent the largest number of STEM students (20,800) to the United States and ranked fourth for the percentage of its students pursuing a STEM degree (80%) during the 2008-2012 period,” the report said. “Notably, 91% of students from Hyderabad are studying for a master’s degree, versus only 4% for a bachelor’s degree.”

In 2015—the year for which the latest data is available—the US government issued around 60,000 visas to Indian students, with a large number being issued by the US consulate general in Hyderabad.

India is believed to be churning out the world’s largest number of engineers every year at over one million, but the graduates’ skill levels have remained poor. “Only 4.77% candidates can write the correct logic for a program, a minimum requirement for any programming job,” the Aspiring Minds study had noted.

“Lack of programming skills is adversely impacting the IT and data science ecosystems in India,” Varun Aggarwal, a co-founder at Aspiring Minds said. “The world is moving towards introducing programming to three-years-olds. India needs to catch up.”

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