Engineering is the application of scientific and technological knowledge to innovate and build structures, machines, software, and systems. Here’s a snapshot of the various inroads within the field of engineering.
Engineering is a popular stream of education as well as career choice among youth both in India and Overseas.
According to popular belief, you have the aptitude for engineering if you have a liking for subjects like physics and mathematics. Yet, there are frequent drop outs and you see many engineering graduates working in other industries such as finance. The reason for this is that there are a few other qualities besides a liking – and high scores in certain subjects that are indicative of an aptitude for engineering and these are often sidelined when making a choice. These include –
- Linear thinking – A natural propensity to break every task into steps and then follow those steps to completion.
- Leaning towards the objective – Subjectivity and ambiguity repel those with a rational mindset and these are the people best suited to succeed in the field of engineering.
- Love for Provenance – They prefer to prove by doing rather than saying
- Curiosity – They have a natural curiosity that is over and above normal. They prefer to figure out how things work rather than enjoying them.
- Love for Rules – They like math and science because they are rule based and objective subjects.
There are a few more traits that may be identified by a professional.
When it comes to engineering, physics and math are not the only subjects to look out for. Present day engineering options include chemical and biomedical engineering – which means you must look out for chemistry and biology too – or make your choice early on and opt for PCB (Physics Chemistry Biology) or PCM – (Physics Chemistry Mathematics) depending on the type of engineering you would like to take up.
Here’s a list of options if you are hoping to become an engineer in India or abroad –
- Aerospace/aeronautical engineering – PCM
- Civil engineering – PCM
- Computer engineering – PCM
- Electrical/electronic engineering – PCM
- Mechanical engineering – PCM
- Engineering management – PCM
- Chemical Engineering – PCM/B
- Biomedical Engineering – PCB
- Agricultural Engineering – PCB/M
There are many sub-specialties within each of these types. For instance, under civil engineering you may have structural and architectural engineering.
Depending upon your aptitude and liking, you may choose from any of these and select your subjects accordingly, early on in your academic path.
Worth mentioning here is the fact that unlike traditional education systems, these days, subject specialties are being offered in earlier years of education.
Any discussion about science and engineering is incomplete without the mention of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) – a relatively new term use to refer to the curriculum and subjects offered by various colleges and universities as a part of their graduation and post graduation programs. There are many variants of STEM depending upon the subjects offered by different institutions. Some of these include –
- STREAMi (Science, Technology, Research, Engineering, Arts, Math’s, innovation)
- STM (Scientific, Technical, and Mathematics; or Science, Technology, and Medicine; or Scientific, Technical, and Medical)
- eSTEM (environmental STEM)
- STEMIE (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Invention and Entrepreneurship); adds Inventing and Entrepreneurship as means to apply STEM to real world problem solving and markets.
- iSTEM (invigorating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics); identifies new ways to teach STEM-related fields.
- STEMLE (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Law and Economics); identifies subjects focused on fields such as applied social sciences and anthropology, regulation, cybernetics, machine learning, social systems, computational economics and computational social sciences.
- MEd Curriculum Studies: STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Sense of Place); integrates STEM with social sciences and sense of place.
- METALS (STEAM + Logic)
- STREM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, and Mathematics); adds robotics as a field.
- STREM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, and Multimedia); adds robotics as a field and replaces mathematics with media.
- STREAM (Science, Technology, Robotics, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics); adds robotics and arts as fields.
- STEEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Economics, and Mathematics); adds economics as a field.
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)
- A-STEM (Arts, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics); more focus and based on humanism and arts.
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics) add Agriculture.
- STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Applied Mathematics); more focus on applied mathematics
- GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science); used for programs to encourage women to enter these fields.
- STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine)
- SHTEAM (Science, Humanities, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics)
- AMSEE (Applied Math, Science, Engineering, and Entrepreneurship)
- THAMES (Technology, Hands-On, Arts, Mathematics, Engineering, Science)
- THAMES (Technology, Humanities, Arts, Mathematics, Engineering, and Science; includes all three branches of science: natural science, social science, and formal science)
- MINT (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural sciences and Technology)
This of course depends upon your specialty. However, as an engineer you may choose to work with an organization or work for yourself – making and selling your own products for an industry of your choice – such as the healthcare industry, manufacturing industry and so on. Those aspiring for the construction industry may take up architectural or structural engineering while those desirous of working in the world of cell phones, computers, and robotics will naturally pursue computer engineering. Computer engineers usually work in the field of technology branching into sub-specialties ranging from software design and computer assembly to robotics and Artificial Intelligence. As a mechanical engineer, you may choose to specialize in industrial machines, marine engineering, or aeronautical engineering. As such you are likely to land a job in the manufacturing, maritime, or aerospace industry. You may also specialize and work in the railway industry as a mechanical engineer. The field of biomedical engineering has expanded to genetic engineering, tissue engineering, implants, and more. You might even consider working as a quality control or research scientist for a drug manufacturer if you have a degree in bioengineering or chemical engineering.
Depending upon your choice -you would be well advised to gain knowledge about the industry you want to work in.
After completing your high school (grade 12), you may seek admission for B.E (Bachelor of Engineering) B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) or other Bachelors degree depending upon your subjects and the branch of engineering you want to pursue.
After completion of your Bachelors degree, you may go on to pursue further specialization and secure a Masters degree or opt for a career instead. Many students forego the Bachelors degree and prefer to do a shorter duration diploma in a stream of their choice.
In India, there are close to 3000 colleges offering engineering in India. IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) and NIT (National Institute of Technology) are considered to be the best two engineering colleges in India. Both have branches across the country. There is keen competition among students to secure admission in the best engineering college in the country and only those with the highest scores are able to gain admission. This has led to some black marketing and underhand activities in securing and providing admission to engineering college. It has also generated a need to assess the capability and aptitude of students who want to do engineering. A student aspiring for engineering therefore must clear an entrance exam for engineering at the state or central level depending upon whether he is seeking admission in a college within the state or outside. Some institutes prefer to conduct their own entrance or aptitude tests while others open applications to those passing state or national level entrance tests. There are also some groups of colleges or universities that conduct Joint Entrance Exams popularly known as JEE. The centralized entrance tests include –
- Joint Entrance Examination (Main) (JEE Main) … Central level
- Joint Entrance Exam Advanced (JEE Advanced) … Central level after completing JEE Main.
- State level CET (Central Entrance Test)
- Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) … Conducted jointly by the Indian Institute of Science (IIS) and seven Indian Institutes of Technologies at Roorkee, Delhi, Guwahati, Kanpur, Kharagpur, Chennai (Madras) and Mumbai (Bombay) on behalf of the National Coordination Board – GATE, Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), Government of India to test candidate aptitude for engineering before granting admission.
In order to appear for these entrance exams, a student must have secured a minimum of 50% in subjects related to engineering – usually Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology. You may appear for a centralized state level or national level exam or engineering entrance exam for a particular institute such as SRM (Sri Ramaswamy Memorial) or VIT (Vellore Institute of Technology). Most students opt for centralized entrance tests for engineering because this improves the chance of gaining admission into their desired field of study.
Most admission processes have now been digitized therefore a student may submit his online application for entrance exams by visiting the website of the authority conducting the examination of your choice.
It is important to understand that gaining admission is not easy because of the sheer number of students who seek admission into this stream. Traditionally these streams have been associated with social status and those securing their degree go on to pursue lucrative careers. However, these days of tough competition have forced engineering graduates into seeking alternative careers because of the cut-throat competition in the industry. Many who choose the path of entrepreneurship fail because of lack of finance, business acumen and other reasons.
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