Thiruvananthapuram: Lecturers at the Trinity College of Engineering at Naruvamoodu “moonlight” as company executives. They juggle their teaching duties with the management of companies set up on the campus.
The college can boast of a dozen startups that provide a steady income to the lecturers and on-the-job training to the students. When the college principal mooted the idea in 2013, the teaching staff did not know they were going to be the pioneers in the startup space.
The idea was officially validated when the Kerala government issued an order two months ago, allowing college lecturers to go on paid leave for two years to hatch their ideas into startups.
Thirty lecturers of the Trinity College of Engineering are part of the startup force. Some of them have been so successful in their ventures that their profits often exceed their salaries.
Many of these companies offer jobs to the students. At least 12 students started their career in these companies after passing out from the college.
Five years ago, however, this was a crazy idea. Principal Arun Surendran wanted the college to provide education and employment together. He called it the “medical college model”.
He had a condition for the in-house entrepreneurs though. The companies should have something to do with the subjects they offered. Surendran said he came across the model during his higher studies and research in the United States.
Surendran’s encouragement prompted Jimmy Bentex, a lecturer in the mechanical engineering department, to start a company on campus. C&T Engineering has grown to be a company with customers in more than 20 countries.
The college is liberal in providing the infrastructure for the companies. The lecturer-entrepreneur can rent office space on the campus. Customers can visit the college for business meets. The lecturers could even expect paid leave if their projects were inspiring enough.
It was a win-win situation. Students had the golden opportunity to get them familiarized with the latest technology as they were already part of the real industry environment. They handled finance, human resources and marketing.
The college has a target of launching three startups a year.
One of the companies on the campus has secured a high-profile customer in the Kerala police. The company supplied 25 Breathalyzers to the city police recently.
The traffic assistant commissioner of police chanced upon the invention when he visited the college for a function. The Breathalyzers with MQ3 sensors were lighter and cheaper than those with the police.
The company is also selling hardware in association with UST Global’s Infinity Lab. The success of the startups have prompted the college to partner with them.
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