Engineering as a Career

Engineering is a dream career for almost 60% of the Indian students who pass-out from XII. Today with technology moving the markets, a career as an engineer can be a lucrative one, and to take advantage of this, there are a lot of colleges that have started across the country with the intention of profiting (read: fleecing the students) from this lucrative market. These colleges lure the students to pursue their dream career, little do the students know that these so-called “Engineering Colleges” neither have any kind of placements (yes they can sometimes get you to call center jobs) nor do they do any good to the students who spent their four precious years in these colleges. The fact remains that out of about 4000 engineering colleges in this country, barring the top 200, the rest of the colleges have very limited placements or no placements at all.

In the year 2018-19, the number of Engineers studying in each year of various engineering colleges across the country has increased to more than 1.45 million, out of these about 25-30% of the pass-outs every year do not land up with a job. Even the students who land up with jobs, the average salary in a tier 2 institution will be only 3 to 3.5 Lakhs per annum. The average salaries for engineering in the top IITs would be in the range of 8-9 Lakhs per annum. For colleges beyond the top-200 in this country, the average salaries would be much lower and today engineers from these colleges work for a salary of even less than 10,000 per month. Other students owing to not finding an engineering job take-up jobs as sales executives or call center employees in various companies. These jobs have no relation to what they have studied in engineering, but the burden of loan and also the pressure of getting a job forces these students to take up such jobs as compared to core engineering or technical jobs. It is also noticed that more than 50% of the students who take up engineering in India are dissatisfied with the course curriculum and in a lot of cases these students refuse to take up an engineering job after completion as it does not interest them anymore. This late realization of whether one likes the course or does not help him in his career and he is forced to continue for the next few years which is a frustrating experience for the student. So the first question to be asked here is am I interested in Engineering?

We can classify the Engineering Branches into 5 different categories viz. Core Branches, Other Branches, Industry Specialized Branches, Life Sciences Branches & IT Related Branches. The engineering curriculum is for 4 years which is split into 8 semesters, each of 6 months. Students in different branches study different courses based on branch specializations. The first year is almost common across all engineering branches with Engineering Mathematics as one of the main subjects which include advanced mathematics and statistics. Apart from these the common subjects would include Engineering Design, Physics, and Chemistry. There would also be a common practical for students in the tool room on the usage of basic engineering techniques and tools. These days a lot of colleges have also introduced courses in communication and personality development from the first year itself. The students would also go through in these years courses on basics related to their specializations.

You should get into Engineering only if you have a keen interest in Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics. The level change from XII to Engineering will be higher and to cope up with this level change you have to be interested in these subjects. Also depending on whether you like Physics or Chemistry or a certain topic in these subjects you can choose your branch. For example, a student interested in Mechanics & Thermodynamics can choose Mechanical, whereas if your interest lies in Chemistry you may choose Chemical Engineering.

Another thing to be kept in mind is that if one really wants to excel in Engineering, one should have technical aptitude, numerical aptitude, and research aptitude. Technical aptitude would help you understand technology and working of technology better, Numerical aptitude would help you understand theories and principles involved in working of these technologies and research aptitude will help you come up with newer ideas and question the current theories or make use of them in new applications. Engineering is for you if you are above average in all these three. I have encountered parents who decide to put their wards into engineering even after them having secured only 50-60 % marks after XII. The parents feel that their wards are above average in technical aptitude (Read: can open up and repair mobiles, TV, etc according to them). These students typically struggle through their four years as they lack the other two faculties and hence don’t complete their course in 4 years. That’s also one of the reason that in the tier-II colleges the percentage of students who complete the course in the stipulated four years is less than 80

Let us look at various kinds of engineering branches that will help you understand and make a decision on which kind of branches to choose or keep as a top priority while choosing the seat.

Core Engineering Branches: Core branches are branches which are useful in almost all industries and these branches are the basics from where other branches have evolved. These are also branches where the opportunity is among the highest and a student can later on move out into a specialization that he or she intends to for his higher education. Example of such branches would be Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Chemical & Civil Engineering

Other Engineering Branches: These branches are subsets of a core engineering branch. For e.g. Instrumentation has a lot of courses which are aligned to electronics and electrical. Although students of electronics may do most of these courses in their four years, part of electronics courses which are relevant for instrumentation will only be dealt in the four years of instrumentation branch. Metallurgy is more of Chemical, Mechatronics is Electronics & Mechanical and so on. Students feel that doing such a course is beneficial as they would get a sense of multiple branches and hence opt for such courses. It has been noticed that industry still are interested in core branches more as compared to these branches.

IT Related Branches: IT and Computer related branches would either look at hardware or the software side of computing. Computer Engineering looks predominantly at the hardware side and the Software Engineering & Information technology courses look at the software area of computing. With IT companies recruiting the maximum number of students from the campus these days, the demand for these courses is the highest in the market, this sector is also lucrative as a lot of the top pay masters are also from the IT or hardware sectors like Google, Amazon, IBM, CISCO etc.

Life Sciences Branches: Life Sciences related branches focus on Engineering related to living organisms. These are courses which are very new in the market and currently the job opportunities in these sectors are limited to only research opportunities and teaching. A student who has a keen interest in Biology and still want to pursue engineering can opt for such branches and then continue his higher studies to finally take up a research career. The industrial placement in this sector is still much lower as compared to the other sectors. Examples of such courses would be Biotechnology, Bio-medical, Bio-process and Bioinformatics.

Industry Specialized Branches: These are branches which are specific to certain industries and the course curriculum will focus on a particular industry in depth. These courses have low scope, but as the number of students passing out is also lower the salaries offered are comparatively higher if you pass out from a good college. Also, these branches face competition from students in core branches who are sometimes eligible to apply for the same positions available to the specialized branch students. Examples of such courses would be Aeronautical, Aerospace Engineering, Automobile Engineering, Food Technology, Dairy technology, Plastic Technology, Paper Technology, Petroleum Engineering, Mining & Mining Machinery, Ceramic Engineering, Agriculture Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Telecommunication Engineering, Textile Engineering, Fashion Technology, Ocean Technology, Marine Engineering & Apparel Technology.

So, the two most important aspects to be kept in mind while choosing Engineering as a career is whether you have an interest in it. If yes, then which branch is closest to your interest? Clarity of these two questions would help you take the right decision of whether to pursue engineering or not.

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