Friday, June 03, 2011

Core Engineering – The Path that Lies Ahead for a Student

(This is the summary of the presentation I made in The Hindu Career Fair 2011 in Chennai on May 20th in the topic “Core Engineering” for students who completed their 
12th grade exam).
Sree is into his fifth semester of engineering. He visits me once in a while to borrow books to read. I talk to him for few minutes every time he comes to meet me. In one of those talks I asked him how he is fairing in his academics. Sree seems to be an intelligent chap but the answer he gave was really shocking. He has over fifteen arrear exams to clear. I took him out for dinner one day and started asking him reasons why he is doing so badly in his class. He turned real emotional and told me that he does not like engineering at all. His aim has always been to become a writer. His parents forced him to do engineering in the name of “family pride”. He told me that they wasted lakhs of rupees in the name of IIT coaching which he never wanted to go to and now when his rank was very low they got him an engineering seat in the management quota. 
This story may sound very familiar to you. Sree in this story may be someone in your own house, your neighbor or someone in the street you definitely know. As long as factors like parental pressure, family pride and other external factors, other than interest in the subject, determines which course a student takes for his/her under graduation, we can find lots of Sree’s around. 
Now the most worrying thing in the above story is that Sree is in his third year of engineering and still hates engineering. This is disaster in waiting. My advice to students planning to join engineering is simple – Take the course you love or Love the course you take. 
Taking the course you love is very similar to love marriage. You like a girl (in case of a boy) and you are ready to go to any extent to make sure that it ends in marriage. Since you are so passionate about your lover, any hurdles that may come in the way are eliminated with shear determination. Similarly you take an engineering branch of your love and your passion for the subject and it will take you to great heights in your career.
Now like most marriages in India are arranged where the girl and boy have no luxury to choose the life partner, most of the time the student is forced to take a branch that may not be to his liking. That may be the only branch available for the rank he has got or that may be the branch his parents or family wants him to take or that is the branch all his friends are taking. Now this is similar to arranged marriage. In an arranged marriage, before the marriage is fixed lot of planning takes place, right? If it is a Hindu marriage horoscope have to be matched, then photos get exchanged, financial and family status etc are ascertained by the parents in particular and family members in general. After so many discussions, the decision is made collectively whether to proceed with this marriage or not. Same is applicable to selection of an engineering branch if you don’t have a liking for a particular branch. Job prospects, good colleges and location, affordable fees are some of the factors that need to be considered. 
Now you got an engineering admission and have started studying. It is necessary that at least by the beginning of the sixth semester you identify what you want do after your engineering. Take opinions from your parents, friends and other well wishers and then decide what is best for you – job or higher studies or a business of your own. The key here is that once you make a decision, stick to that and do not try to put your legs in more than one boat at a time. 
I have seen this happening a lot of times. You decide one fine morning during your fifth semester that you are going to do MS in US after your engineering and start preparing for GRE exam. After few days you see few of your friends preparing for M.Tech entrance exam – GATE. Now you decide to drop the idea of GRE and start preparing for GATE. Never do this as it may not take you anywhere and finally may end up losing a year or so after engineering due to your indecision. 
If you plan to do higher studies after your engineering there are ample opportunities available in India and abroad. In India you need to write Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) to be eligible to do higher studies. If you want to do your M.Tech in premier institutes like IISc or IITs then you need to at least get a rank lower than 500. If you want to do higher studies in US then you need to write two exams Graduate Records Exam (GRE) and TOEFL and then have to apply to the Universities in US which are a comprehensive process. 
A student joining engineering must understand that there are so many areas of specialization available for each branch of engineering. If you major in mechanical engineering you can choose to specialize in thermal engineering, machine design, manufacturing, industrial engineering or aerospace engineering etc. Similarly if you have Bachelors in Civil Engineering you can specialize in Structural Engineering or Geotechnical Engineering or Environmental Engineering or Water Resource Engineering or Construction Management or Sustainable Engineering and so many other fields. This is true with any branch of engineering. 
If you aim for a job in the private sector after your engineering your best bet will be campus placement. If you are studying in a good college, then lots of companies will be coming to hire the fresh graduates and you can use that opportunity to the maximum to land in jobs. Know the selection process of the companies that may potentially come for campus placement by sixth semester and start preparing so that you can easily get recruited in the company of your choice. There are two kinds of companies that come to campus for recruitment – core companies that hire students only from a particular branch of engineering and others (mostly software companies) that allows all the graduating students to appear for their selection process. 
Now there are lots of government jobs awaiting you if you want one. For most of those jobs you may have to end up writing an exam and then in a few of them an interview after you has cleared the written exam. Most of the state government and public sector jobs are filled in this way. Then for various Central Government jobs, the Central Government conducts Indian Engineering Service Exam (IES) exam to recruit candidates to organizations like Indian Defense Service of Engineers etc. This is a three day exam and has four categories – Civil Engineering graduates come in Category I, Mechanical Engineering graduates in Category II, Electrical Engineering graduates in Category III and Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering in Category IV. 
So there are ample opportunities available for engineering graduates. The key is selection of the right course that you love or loving the course you take and knowing the various possibilities each branch has to offer. Decide by third year of engineering what you want to do after engineering and work towards achieving that goal. If you do all these things judiciously then you are sure to land up in a good position after your engineering.
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Blogger Jijo V.G said...

Informative....And Like the comparison....Brilliant..

June 05, 2011 4:55 AM  

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