Passion for engineering? 

With the nature of jobs changing, according to Rao, new job requirements will be created that will require new-age solutions.
For representational purpose
For representational purpose

HYDERABAD: Ahead of National Engineers’ Day on September 15, we talk to industry and education experts on how the engineering landscape has changed over the years, what are the key challenges and what to look forward to

It is mockingly said of engineers in India that students complete a degree in engineering first and then figure out what they really want to do in life. However, engineering disciplines are extremely demanding and equally fulfilling as well. On National Engineers’ Day, which is celebrated on September 15, to mark the birth anniversary of Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya, known as India’s first civil engineer, we dive deeper into the pros and cons of pursuing engineering as a career. 

“As we reflect on the modern engineering landscape, it is evident that it offers an array of promising avenues for our young talent,” said Sujit Jagirdar, Chief Innovation Officer of T-Hub. “India’s dynamic startup landscape, driven by innovative young engineers, now boasts over 90,000 startups and is expected to reach $180 billion in funding by the end of 2023. This robust ecosystem offers fertile ground for engineering graduates. Moreover, the fourth industrial revolution has ushered in a wave of digital transformation across industries. From Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) to the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain, new-age engineering spheres are driving innovation at an unprecedented pace. According to NASSCOM, India’s AI industry is expected to reach $350 billion by 2025, offering vast opportunities for budding engineers to be at the forefront of global technology advancements,” he added. 

Not only this, the engineering sphere has made a lot of progress in other disciplines such as space and aerospace, telecommunications, ed-tech, cybersecurity, food and agriculture to name a few. “Compared to earlier times, we now have a lot of accessibility to information. We integrate technology with sustainable development, healthcare and elderly care, integrative medicine, alternative therapies, cognitive computing and natural language processing. Many people are today talking about material science and nanotechnology. These are all diverse topics which are becoming common across various disciplines. The landscape of the industry has been changed entirely,” said NV Ramana Rao, Ex-director of NIT Warangal.  

With the nature of jobs changing, according to Rao, new job requirements will be created that will require new-age solutions. Hence, the engineering curriculum has changed dramatically. “We need to concentrate on interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary courses. We have to talk about collaboration. For example, when it comes to collaborative research, we are talking about advanced materials and technology. We have biomedical engineering, cyber-security systems and computational engineering. Then we have also started new courses like MLP Science and Engineering.

We have started a course in e-resources in India. Many education institutions, IITs and NITs, are starting courses in these new areas like integrated systems and smart mobility. Both humanities, arts and social sciences have become an integral part of engineering education. We are also going into medical sciences. Technology in one area can be really implemented in another area. The technology of diagnostics is now being used in many other structures, like health monitoring of existing structures, machines and things,” Rao added. 

Despite several changes, there are some challenges in the engineering sphere, specifically when it comes to mapping job opportunities or bridging the gender gap. “Many factors contribute to this gap, the biggest of which is the demand vs supply equation, which actually works against graduates,” said Prasanna Anireddy, VP of Engineering, Progress. “It is true that India has a very large population of engineering talent, but the quality of this talent needs a closer look. I feel that the current education system in India does not prioritise the development of practical skills, leaving graduates with a qualification that lacks hands-on knowledge.

The problem may also lie in professionals’ lack of genuine interest in engineering. Engineering is arguably the most commonly pursued career track in the country. However, the majority of the students pursue it as an outcome of groupthink,” she pointed out. 

Talking about how to bridge the gender gap in engineering, she said, “There is a great gender disparity among top leaders in STEM and I have seen similar statistics in my organisation as well. A lot of women who join the workforce are not able to retain their careers to be able to take it to the top levels and we see a very limited number of female leaders. In order to see greater representation of women in top positions, interventions need to be made at the level of education. More girls need to be encouraged to take up higher education in STEM courses.

The recruiters need to ensure that they have a diverse interview panel and range of candidates. Then ensure that women have a comfortable workspace with the right support and opportunities for personal growth so that they do not drop out of the workforce. The most important is to ensure equitable opportunities for all employees. For example, both parents should get leave benefits when it comes to taking care of their children,” she concluded. 

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