Arpitam Chatterjee: I like to see a habit of thinking in my students

I don’t go by marks. Rather I give them problems and ask them to solve them, says Dr Arpitam Chatterjee, associate professor, Department of Printing Engineering, Jadavpur University, Kolkata in the Print Guru series

07 Jan 2024 | By PrintWeek Team

What is the USP of the print and packaging industry in India?
India is visibly growing in different consumer sectors. Mass communication and packaging are two major areas in that growth. The changes with time are inevitable, but today’s concern is not only change but the speed of change. The USP of the print and packaging industry is maintaining synergy with the fast changes and demands in these two sectors along with many other major sectors that are contributing to the economic and social growth of India.

As an educator, what have been the three biggest problems you have faced?
First of all the awareness in people about print and packaging education in India. Many of us still think printing engineers will work in newspapers or commercial presses. But the reality is different having excellent growth and career in software, service sectors, government sectors and many other growing sectors. The second is the huge deficit in research and infrastructural funds. Finally, lack of strong industry-institution bridging not only in terms of job opportunities in core sectors but also in the development of industry-oriented course curricula.

How do you think these obstacles could be tackled creatively?
Awareness in people about the different printing and packaging courses. Undoubtedly, job placement is one of the most important parameters for any student to choose the path of education in our country. So if the big players in the printing and packaging industry can motivate continuously through recruitment in core sectors, the situation will improve. Nevertheless, we academicians also need to keep ourselves updated with the latest industry trends.

Which is your favourite subject and why is it important?
It’s difficult to say a single one as there are many, so I may bring it down to two. Packaging technology and digital image processing. The former is rich in technicality and includes every stream of engineering. The second one is a great area in terms of research, higher studies and applications in printing and packaging.

Today, you are a teacher. Who was your guru, and why so? 
I have so many since I see life beyond my role of teaching. But considering the context, I will say all my teachers in the Department of Printing Engineering, Jadavpur University, along with many other teachers in Jadavpur University were my gurus. 

One innovation you implemented after listening to your student?
Here also I have multiple since I try to learn continuously from the students. They are energetic, enthusiastic, smart and intelligent. One example I can mention is the development of a mobile app-based food quality detection system based on image processing during one of the student projects. I learned so many things in that journey, including modern coding and programming concepts.

Were you the minister of printing and packaging, how would you tackle the industry's problems creatively?
I would allow more research and infrastructural grants. I shall create a better scope of higher studies in printing and packaging, including them in qualifying examinations like GATE. Finally, I will motivate towards more bridging between industry and institutions through frequent seminars, resource exchange and such initiatives.

What ingredient do you seek among your young disciples?
I like to see a habit of thinking in my students. I don’t go by marks. Rather I give them problems and ask them to solve them. Whether they succeed or not, I appreciate those who try to solve them. However, I also appreciate the effort to know the background of problems by studying resources from different sources.

Your present preoccupation in the field of research?
Currently, I am working on computer vision and applications of machine learning in printing to simulate low-cost versions of many expensive test equipment commonly used in printing houses to ensure good print outcomes.

One project you are excited about?
Developing an app to check print quality by using mobile phone cameras. The test equipment for printing like densitometers is so expensive that many of the MSE printers cannot afford them. They rely mostly on their experience to judge quality but the print and packaging standards are advancing every day. So, they may not fulfil the international standards which can affect their business in future. A simple mobile-based app may address this to some extent.

Assuming you can align with a print or packaging association, what would be the three most important things you would expect from it?
One, the availability of resources. Two, the availability of funds for R&D and research. Three, industry support.

The industry needs skilled professionals on the shopfloor, and different printing education institutes have been churning out printing professionals for decades now. Still, there seems to be a disconnect between industry and academia. Why? What do print teachers want from the industry? Read more in this series where PrintWeek asks 13 print gurus.