50-year journey of Jorhat Engineering College


The Jorhat Engineering College (JEC) came into existence on October 10, 1960 in the Garamur area of Jorhat town. It started its journey with the Civil Engineering department and, that too, with an intake capacity of only 60 students. In the meantime, Assam had got its first engineering college at Jalukbari with three branches, namely Civil, Electrical and Mechanical with an intake capacity of 60 students per branch. RJ Thacker, who was a professor at the Assam Engineering College (AEC), was transferred to the JEC and posted as its principal. He continued till Prof PC Dutta joined as a regular principal in April, 1961.

The JEC was set up with some kind of speciality. In the minds of alumni, teachers, employees and well-wishers the college is unique. Starting with the Civil Engineering department, it soon expanded itself and students in the Mechanical and Electrical Engineering departments were admitted. Like the AEC, the JEC also tried to contribute to the development of this forlorn region. In union with the former, the JEC tried its best to carry the torch of technical education to all the corners of the region. It started its journey under the able leadership of Prof PC Dutta who was a product of the Benaras Hindu University (BHU). He was instrumental in establishing the JEC at the proper forum. He carried the images of his alma mater, the BHU, in his mind. He desired to model the JEC on the BHU. He was the planner. The college and hostel buildings got the touch of his imagination with roots in the BHU. There was a good amount of effort on the part of Lokanayak Debeswar Sarma, HP Baruah and others also.

Debeswar Sarma was instrumental in establishing other institutions like the Assam Agricultural University and the Regional Research Laboratory, (now called the North East Institute of Science & Technology) in Jorhat. HP Baruah was a man of a different class. In 1915 he had topped the merit list of the Civil Engineering discipline at the Calcutta University. His dream project was the AEC and he became its founder principal.

Initially, the classes for the first batch of the Civil Engineering students at the JEC were held in the dining hall of Hostel No. 2. Students resided in Hostel No. 1. Prof Hemen Borthakur was the hostel superintendent. Bhaba Chetia was the monitor. The teaching staff initially comprised Debajit Chaliha (Electrical Engineering), Sashi Sarma (Mechanical Engineering), Hemen Borthakur (Civil Engineering), SD Phukan (Civil Engineering), Nirupoma Buragohain (Mathematics), Hamidur Rahman (Physics) and Kamruz Zaman (Chemistry).

Bhaba Chetia, a member of the first batch, said that new faculty members gradually came in. They included Sakti Pada Bhattacharyya, SK De Purkayastha, Sashi Mahanta and others in the Electrical Engineering department, Moheswar Changmai (Civil Engineering), Dilip Borthakur (Sociology), Dugdha Sarma (part-time teacher in English) and others.

Prof PC Dutta left the college on the expiry of his contract. Prof RJ Thacker again took over. Then Prof D Chaliha was appointed as the regular principal and he continued up to 1977 till he was appointed as the Director of Technical Education of Assam. After D Chaliha left, several principals guided the JEC through various ups and downs. The sequence is as follows: SK De Purkayastha, Sahsi Sarma, SD Phukan, U Miri, RN Chowdhury, Amal Sarma, HK Das, TK Bhattacharyya and A Bora. Prof D Chaliha had been the principal for the longest period.

During the last 50 years, the JEC has produced many engineers. India has a four-tier system of technical colleges – IITs, NITs, State Government engineering colleges and private engineering colleges. The total number of such colleges may be around 1,500. These produce several lakhs of engineers every year.

In the recent times, engineers have been forced to seek even clerical jobs at banks, etc. In spite of all these odds, new colleges are coming up with newer branches. The JEC is also offering a postgraduate course in Computer Applications and Mechanical Engineering. Besides, it offers the BE course in Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Computer Science and Instrumentation. It has eight boys’ hostels and one girls’ hostel.

The JEC still remembers its first batch of students including Bhaba Chetia, Alok Sarma, Nani Gogoi, Sunni Phukan, Pramod Bora, Mridul Bhattacharyya and others. The college also remembers its various faculty members who served the college at different periods. They include AM Peters, B Sarma, M Borgohain, MC Bora, PK Bordoloi, DK Mahanta, GC Kakoti, A Deb, NB Deb, D Deka, MM Das, S Das, L Bhuyan, B Bora, DPS Thakur, M Deb and others.

The JEC products are serving in different parts of the world, making the institution proud. The education system is changing with the passage of time. But in the case technical education, the campus and classroom system is the best. The JEC is an example of this fruitful system. However, it is also the right time for the college to respond to the changing curricula and changing system quickly.

Technology itself is everchanging. It has both good and evil effects on the society and civilization. Keeping all these things in mind, the JEC should be able to do a lot in association with other similar institutions. A creative profession like engineering can flourish with a proper amount of timely inputs. At the same time, the service of an engineer has a direct bearing on the welfare and safety of the society. So, it is the right time for the JEC to prepare a suitable action plan for a better future on the strength of unity.