“It has a lot of scope.”
“Trust me, it’s good for your future.”
We’ve all heard these words before, either directed at us or at our less fortunate friends. Disguised as sound advice, these same words have pushed students into making decisions that have in no way been “good for their future”. It’s difficult to point out the exact moment in Indian history when people began romanticising the field of Engineering. Being an engineer is still, without a doubt, a respectable position. But the many skewed beliefs about this profession have morphed it into an ugly, formidable monster.
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Such advice given to students deceives them because the people giving this advice don’t fully understand the realities of the profession themselves. So when students enter it and step out as graduates, they are disillusioned, disappointed, and highly unprepared for employment. Here, we present and clear three misconceptions that are commonly held about the field of Engineering, not to discourage, but to expose the truth behind the age-old fallacies.
Firstly, Engineering is a field of science. But unlike pure science subjects like Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, Engineering is primarily applied science. These subjects form a necessary part of the engineering curriculum as they make up the fundamental principles needed for later application. So an Engineering student will be required to study these ‘lowly’ subjects anyway. When people say Engineering is better than other science subjects, what they really mean is that the grass is greener on this side. By green, of course, they mean money. While it may be true that application science pays better than pure science, there is no basis to the “fact” that Engineering pays well at all – which brings us to our next myth.
Most people believe that a BE degree is made of gold that can be converted into money. This notion is, however, far from reality. Most students who graduate find themselves struggling to land a job, that is of course, after having foregone the dream of a good job. Why is this?
All engineering colleges promise 100 percent placements at the time of joining. But only the most esteemed institutions (a handful of over 3,000 approved colleges in India) bag companies that offer the ‘dream job’ that every student is promised. The rest of the students are forced to settle for low paying jobs by mass recruiters in the IT sector, regardless of their subject. For instance, most mechanical engineers work as software engineers for a lack of a better option.
The IT industry takes in 50 to 75 percent of engineers – a large number – for one reason: with the mass production of engineers, there is more supply than there is demand. So going by basic laws of economics, an engineer’s value is highly reduced by this. This is the main reason why most engineers are unemployed (or underpaid), about 30 percent of the 15 lakh graduates every year, which is a depressingly large number.
Did you hear? There’s a new trend town. Two completely unrelated degrees are now the most sough-after combination. As if the plethora of exams needed to study Engineering isn’t enough, students are now seen preparing for CAT or GMAT towards the end of their BE. Many believe that a Bachelor’s in Business Management isn’t sufficient to gain entry into good MBA colleges. This again stems from the notion that a degree in engineering is at the top of the hierarchy of degrees.
Let’s turn the clock back in time to gain a little perspective. When the mass production of engineers began, and students slowly started realising the prospect of unemployment, the only step most thought logical was to study further. That was when MBA was also picking up as a promising degree for a secure future. As a result, unemployed engineers invariably streamed into MBA colleges. What was then a desperate move has now morphed into an attractive prospect. A seat in a good MBA college requires work experience and many believe that an engineering degree will provide this opportunity. In reality, a BBM degree is sufficient to land a good job, so students are being doomed for no reason.
Among all the engineers that we are producing, only a handful of them are really interested in the subject. As a result of this, there are only a few competent engineers in the country. Most others are the unfortunate betas and betis struggling to keep their heads above the water. But to end with an optimistic tone, here’s hoping that with greater awareness and choices in professions, this unfortunate herding of aspiring and competent minds will eventually come to an end.