From Lahore to Chandigarh, PEC to mark its 100th year of establishment on November 9

From its establishment at Lahore (now in Pakistan) in 1921 to its present campus in Chandigarh, November 9 will mark 100 years of Punjab Engineering College (PEC).

First set up in Lahore and named Mughalpura Engineering College, the institute was re-established as East Punjab Engineering College on the campus of Thomson Engineering College, Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) after Partition. Renamed Punjab Engineering College in 1950 it was later shifted to Chandigarh in 1953.

With the formation of the Union Territory of Chandigarh, the college came under the control of the Government of India through the Chandigarh administration in 1966.

On a campus spreading over 146 acres in Chandigarh, now a deemed university, PEC offers eight undergraduate programmes and 14 postgraduate programmes, besides PhD programmes in various disciplines of engineering, science and others fields. The institution has over 3,000 students enrolled at present.

The institution became a deemed university in 2003. It is said that the college was closer to getting an IIT tag in late 1950s when many IITs were established in the country. In 2009, PEC was rechristened as PEC University of Technology, but later in 2017 it got back the deemed university status.

To celebrate its centenary, PEC will conduct many online programmes throughout the year including a special weekly seminar series. The institution is also planning to come up with a publication on the contribution of its alumna in the development of this region.

Rich legacy

With the help of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the first set of graduate engineers in aeronautical engineering in the country came out of PEC in 1964 with 100% placements in IAF and Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The institute still shares a good bond with the IAF.

During the 99 years of PEC’s history, the institution has given numerous personalities not only to the country but to the world and its alumni network is spread around the world. Among the notable alumni are Kalpana Chawla (astronaut), Padma Shri Dr Satish Kumar (DRDO), Varun Berry (MD Britannia Industries Ltd), Air Vice Marshal (retd) Rakesh Yadav, Vishal Kaul (vice-president Pepsico) and many others.

Rajinder Kaura, CMD, Bergen Group-India, who is an alumni of PEC, said, “This college has given me a lot of insights about how to be an entrepreneur and all I have achieved in life is because of the teachers there. I will continue to contribute to this institution.”

In 1994, PEC was also adjudged as the best technical college in India by the National Foundation of Engineers.

“I have sweet memories of college and hostel days. I spent more than five years in PEC hostel and I learnt a lot of values during those years. The teachers were true mentors. PEC was most sought after college in the 1990s and best in the region. Now I am little concerned about its present ranking and I wish that I can contribute in making it number one in the nation,” said Rubinderjit Singh Brar, director higher education, Chandigarh, who is also a PEC alumnus.

Future plans

Since the late 1950s, the institute tried hard to get an IIT tag, but its hopes were dashed and instead, PEC is seeking a status of centrally-funded technical institute (CFTI) now, which has been its top priority. PEC director Dheeraj Sanghi said, “We have discussed the proposal in our board meetings and we are expecting a meeting with the UT administration soon.”

“For our current student strength, we need around 200 faculty members but have only 100. If we get a CFTI tag, we will improve our quality. We will have more faculty and better infrastructure which is the need of the hour for the college,” he said.

Besides this, PEC has also planned to introduce flexibility in the curriculum.

In the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) 2020, PEC had gone up by 10 notches. “We have improved in perception and we have given better data this time. If we want a big jump in rankings then we need to make some significant changes and for that getting a CFTI status can help,” said Dheeraj Sanghi.

Institute facts

First set up in Lahore and named Mughalpura Engineering College in 1921

Re-established as East Punjab Engineering College on the campus of Thomson Engineering College, Roorkee (now IIT Roorkee) after Partition

Shifted to Chandigarh in 1953

Said to have been considered for an IIT tag in the late 1950s

Rechristened PEC University of Technology in 2009 but deemed university status restored later in 2017

Outer space to TV to rap, meet PEC’s notable alumni

Kalpana Chawla

Chawla, who completed her bachelors’ degree in aeronautical engineering (1982) from PEC, became the first Indian-American astronaut and first Indian woman in Space. She first flew on the space shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator.

Jaspal Singh Bhatti

Graduating as an electrical engineer from PEC in 1978, Jaspal Singh Bhatti was an Indian television personality and a popular social satirist. He was posthumously honoured with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in 2013.

Rakesh Yadav

Air Vice Marshal (retd) Rakesh Yadav was a 1970 batch student of aeronautical engineering. Commissioned in the Indian Air Force in July 1971, he was decorated twice by the President of India with the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal.

Dinesh Khanna

Dinesh Khanna, from the civil engineering batch of 1965, is a former badminton player who became the first Indian to win an Asian badminton title after winning the Men’s Singles Asian Championship in 1965. He was also the National Badminton Champion in 1966 and received the Arjuna award in 1965.

Satish Kumar

From the aerospace engineering batch of 1980, Dr Satish Kumar was awarded the Padma Shree in science and engineering in 2016. Now the chairman of the armaments research board of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, Kumar has received the defence ministry’s Technology Award and the Prime Minister’s special award for Development of Strategic Weapons and Performance by DRDO.

Yogesh Kumar

Dr Yogesh Kumar, aeronautical engineering batch, 1973, has been the former director of Light Combat Aircraft, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Now working as a specialist designer and senior consultant with the National Aerospace Laboratories, Bengaluru, he has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the National Aeronautical Award, 2001, and the Rashtriya Gaurav Award, 2010.

Aditya Parteek Singh Sisodia (Badshah)

Better known by his stage name Badshah, Aditya Prateek Singh Sisodia is a civil engineer from the batch of 2006. This rapper and singer is known for his Hindi, Haryanvi, and Punjabi songs.

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