Engineering Yes, but Which Branch?

In India engineering is a uniform four year course called B.E. or B.Tech. There is not much difference between the two, and B.Tech acquired an air of superiority because it was exclusively offered earlier by reputed institutions like IITs, NITs etc. So there is no need to worry which one to choose. But those who qualify for JEE, CET or COMED and are looking forward to a career in technology have to take the next decision–how to select the right branch of engineering . Many go blindly into Computer Science or Electronics, without even exploring other alternatives. Some students are particular to choose a college which has good “campus recruitment.” But neither of these are correct reasons for selection of branch, because: There is no “ideal” branch and there is no “best”college.

While it is true that computer science graduates are still the first to get (fairly well paid) jobs, you will notice that may IT companies recruit engineers from other branches too, as long as they have good grades and are passing out from a reputed institution. Also, no one can predict how the IT industry will be doing in the next 40-50 years which is the minimum working life of a fresh graduate. Already one can see the writing on the wall, with IT companies no longer being the most lucrative or offering many jobs.

Similarly, colleges advertising that the most reputed companies come to them for campus recruitment are not necessarily the best, and the job s offered by the ‘reputed’ companies may be in their call-centres or other very mediocre jobs that are hardly of the level of the extensive training the candidate has received.

Similarly there are other confusing situations, like Rohith whose confusion was doubled when his uncle dropped in to wish him best of luck and asked “which stream of engineering would you like to take up?” Rohith, who was good at playing games on the computer and surfing the net, replied without batting an eyelid, “Computer Engineering.” His uncle then asked, “would you prefer Information Technology, Information Science, or Computer Science branch of Engineering?” Now Rohith was stumped. He didn’t know the difference between the three.

His uncle then asked, “Are you not interested in instrumentation or medical electronics?” Rohith was totally speechless. He was hearing about these fields for the first time. The final confusion hit him when his uncle informed him that there are more than thirty branches of engineering offered in Karnataka through CET. He started wondering whether he will be able to make a wise choice at all.

Kishore was even more confused because he had a dream of becoming an aeronautical engineer, and was now thinking he will move into that field, only to find that Aeronautical Engineering is offered by very few engineering colleges in the state at the undergraduate level, and he was not sure of their credibility. At the same time he saw advertisements announcing aeronautical courses through Aeronautical Society of India, and he was not sure whether they are recognized or not.

The time is coming when most students, and their parents, wake up to the dilemma of taking these important decisions. They are not sure what to choose and why. Seeing the list below one may not be able to understand what to select.

Engineering branches offered in Karnataka.

Architecture, automobiles, biomedical, biotechnology, ceramics, chemical, civil, computer science, electrical & electronics, electronics & communications, environmental, industrial engineering & management, industrial production, information science, instrumentation technology, manufacturing science, mechanical, medical electronics, metallurgy, mining, polymer technology, printing technology, silk technology, telecommunication, textiles,transportation.

If none of these apply to you, then ask yourself whether you are the “pure technology” type, or the “management” type. If you would like to study further into technology, then you should be careful in choosing the subject of your choice, so that you will enjoy going deeper into the subject. Specialized fields like automobiles, telecommunication, biotechnology, metallurgy offer opportunities for deeper studies.

On the other hand, if you are likely to move into management, it may be advisable to get into any of the basic streams of engineering such as mechanical, electrical, electronics, industrial engineering management, or manufacturing sciences. These branches will give you the proper foundation and the flexibility to take up the management of a wide variety of industries.

Those interested in the IT sector should keep in mind that Computer Science Engineering or IT engineering are not the only avenues to get in. The sector employs many mechanical, electronics, instrumentation engineers too.

If you are aiming for going abroad for management studies, cracking the CAT for MBA in India, appearing for Civil Services Exams like IAS, or joining the engineering branch of the military, the type of college you join, the extra-curricular activities, the exposure to the outside world, are as important as the branch of study you select – and if you have been in a good academic environment your chances of cracking some of the highly competitive entrance exams after your engineering degree will be much higher.

Keep in mind that many engineers branch out into totally unconnected fields. There are engineers today who are top-notch bankers, police commissioners, stock market experts, behavioral scientists, ministers, and of course – the President of India. Regardless of the type of work they are doing today, none regrets having studied engineering. That is one of the greatest advantages of engineering education in India. It prepares you for taking up challenges, sharpens your analytical skills, induces teamspirit,builds up your confidence levels, and generally lays the foundations to excel in whatever you choose to do.

Keeping this in mind, make sure you select a good college, not just based on the number of “campus recruitments” they have, but on the basis of infrastructure and quality of faculty. Do not restrict your choice to colleges in large cities like Bangalore – there are some excellent colleges located in far flung places too.

Here are some practical tips to ensure that you get into the right field

  • Do not get taken in by peer pressure, or people talking highlyaboutaparticularfield having great “scope.” You will be working a minimum of forty years in your chosen career, and the scope may go up and down many times during that period. Firstly check out whether you have aspecificinterestinaspecialised field
  • You may love working in a hospital environment and seeingpatientsbeinghealed, then medical electronics or biomedical engineering is for you.
  • Your family has affiliations to a particular trade e.g. clothing, or transport. If so you can opt for silk technology, textiles,ortransportation engineering, since you will get openings through your personal contacts.
  • If you have a love for a particular subject, say chemistry, then you may opt for Chemical Engineering, ceramics, polymer technology.

By Ali Khwaja

Career Guidance

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