Engineering as a Career

What is Engineering?

Engineering is the application of scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge, in order to design, build, and maintain structures, machines, devices, systems, materials and processes or works, utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation or safety to life and property. It may encompass using insights to conceive, model and scale an appropriate solution to a problem or objective. The discipline of engineering is extremely broad, and encompasses a range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of technology and types of application.

The three traditional branches of engineering are civil, mechanical and electrical. Apart from these, there are various other branches like aeronautical engineering, ceramic engineering, chemical engineering, computer engineering, automobile engineering, industrial engineering, environmental engineering, marine engineering, textile engineering etc.

Engineers work starting from planning, designing, construction, production, testing, implementation and maintenance etc. They work on scientific theories to get practical solutions. Engineering extends its branches catering to industries, technology and business. A student is expected to graduate with a solid technical background.

Who is an engineer?
An engineer is one who effectively adapts the findings of science to the use of man. He / she is a specifically trained and experienced in planning and developing structures and devices and in supervising processes. Engineers are involved in the implementation, application, design, development and management of projects and processes.

Engineers are builders, adventurers and problem solvers. They seek quicker, better and less expensive ways of completing projects. An engineer uses the forces and materials of nature to benefit humankind. Helping people with laborsaving devices such as engines and computers, as well as providing health-enhancing devices such as artificial kidneys and heart-lung machines, are all a part of engineering.

Engineers help meet many societal needs–good housing, plentiful food and clothing, rapid transportation, pure water and air, and power. They are the bridge between scientific research and the creation of new products, translating technical principles into goods, processes and systems for the benefit of all people.

How do I become an engineer?

To become an engineer, one needs to have taken Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at 10+2, with a minimum of 50%. Thereafter, one needs to gain admission to an engineering college by successfully clearing the entrance exams held at college / state / all – India level. An engineering aspirant should have the following qualities:

  • Strong in mathematics and science
  • Highly analytical and detail oriented
  • Imaginative and creative
  • Good communication skills
  • Enjoy working in teams
  • Enjoy building or improving the way things work

Entrance tests:
To gain admission into an engineering college, one has to successfully clear entrance exams held individually at a college, state or all-India level. Most entrance exams today are online, where a student can book a convenient slot to answer it, though there are still some which are in traditional paper and pen mode.

The best known of all engineering entrance exams in India is the Joint Entrance Exam (JEE), for admission to the IITs, NITs and many of India’s other best engineering colleges. The JEE has 2 levels, first the main exam in April, which is a qualifying exam for the JEE advanced exam. If a student clears this within the specified ranking and has the requisite percentage of higher secondary marks, he/she is considered eligible to appear for the JEE advanced, which ensures admission into the IITs or NITs. Other colleges consider the JEE main score and give it weightage with higher secondary scores, to evaluate admission eligibility.

The other most written test is the BITSAT, the entrance test for admission to the Birla Institute of Technological Sciences.

Still other colleges – India’s top deemed universities like SRM in Chennai, or Vellore Institute of Technology, have their own engineering entrance exams.

All entrance exams will have 3 core sections, one each on Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Some exams also test ability in English, Reasoning and / or General awareness.

You can find more information on the various test structures in our “Test content at a glance” section.

Degrees / Diplomas:

A college awards a student earns either a B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) or a B.E (Bachelor of Engineering) degree after completion of the 4 year course.

What are my job prospects as an engineer?

Professionals in this field are in great demand today and the demand keeps on burgeoning day by day. Engineering offers tremendous scope for employment depending upon the area of specialization. Apart from jobs in the private sector, engineers can find employment in the public sector as well. There are numerous opportunities for engineers in the computer software industry, too.

Engineers can join Defense services as commissioned officers. They have great demand in the Civil Aviation Industry and Merchant Navy. Other opportunities include working as a Consultant in research / scientific organizations. Engineers with Post Graduate degree get senior position in private and government department or as a planner or advisor on basic infrastructure development of the industry. An engineer with entrepreneurship abilities can also set up his/her own enterprise.

The five largest engineering areas are:

  • Chemical engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Industrial engineering
  • Mechanical engineering

There are also more specialized engineering fields, including:

  • Aerospace engineering
  • Oceanic engineering
  • Nuclear engineering
  • Biomedical engineering
  • Environmental engineering

Civil Engineering: Considered as one of the oldest engineering disciplines, Civil Engineering involves planning, designing and executing structural works. The profession deals with a wide variety of engineering tasks including designing, supervision and construction activities of public works like roads, bridges, tunnels, buildings, airports, dams, water works, sewage systems, ports etc. and offers a multitude of challenging career opportunities.

Chemical Engineering: Chemical Engineering involves the design and maintenance of chemical plants and the development of chemical processes for converting raw materials or chemicals into valuable forms including those to remove chemicals from waste materials, to enable large-scale manufacture. It combines knowledge of Chemistry and Engineering for the production of chemicals and related by-products. This branch of engineering is a varied field, covering areas from biotechnology and nanotechnology to mineral processing. It covers various fields of chemical technology in mineral based industries, petrochemical plants, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibres, petroleum refining plants etc. Chemical engineers design and operate chemical plants and improve methods of production.

Note: Chemical Engineering is different from chemical technology. The former is concerned with the designing, supervision, construction, installation and operation of plants and equipments for manufacturing chemical products and developing new methods of production while the latter deals with the actual production of substances with new properties which require new methods of production in the fields of petroleum refining, fertilizer technology, processing of food and agricultural products, paints and dyes; recycling metals, glass and plastics; cosmetics, mineral based industries and prevention and control of environmental hazards.

Electrical Engineering: Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. Electrical engineering, an amalgamation of what is now called electrical, electronics and communication, instrumentation, computer engineering etc. is the largest of all engineering disciplines. Four well recognised branches of electrical engineering are power, communications, electronics and control systems. In a broader sense, this field covers a range of sub-disciplines including those that deal with power, optoelectronics, digital electronics, analogue electronics, artificial intelligence, control systems, electronics, signal processing and telecommunications. Overlapping of this field with computer has opened up the door to a career in almost any industry.

Electronics Engineering: Electronics Engineering is one of the largest and fastest growing field of engineering. It covers a wide range of applications which make our life easier and enjoyable such as Television, Radio, computers, telecommunication etc. They helps us to see, hear and communicate over vast distances and do things faster. Electronics has a major role in improving productivity in industries like oil, energy, agriculture and so many other important sectors of economy. In steel, petroleum and chemical industries it is the electronic devices that direct, control and test production processes. Health care industry depend on electronic instruments to perform chemical tests and to check body functions. The safety in transportation, factories and mines and in homes rely heavily on electronics.

Industrial Engineering: Industrial engineering is the branch of engineering that concerns the development, improvement, implementation and evaluation of integrated systems of people, knowledge, equipment, energy, material and process. Industrial engineering draws upon the principles and methods of engineering analysis and synthesis. It eliminates waste of time, money, materials, energy and other resources. Industrial Engineering is also known as Operations management, Production Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering or Manufacturing Systems Engineering depending on the viewpoint or motives of the user. In healthcare Industrial Engineers are more commonly known as Management Engineers or Health Systems Engineers.

Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical engineering deals with design and production of tools, machines and all other mechanical equipment to be used in industries. Mechanical engineering is concerned with all types of machinery in industries and all aspects of their mechanism and functioning; the design, development, construction, production, installation, operation and maintenance; such as large steam and gas turbines, components of thermal power stations, internal combustion engines, jet engines, machine tools, air conditioning and heating machines, refrigerators etc to name a few. They not only design and create new products, but also develop materials for them and ways of making them.

Aeronautical / Aerospace Engineering:Aeronautical / Aerospace Engineering deals with the development of new technology in the field of aviation, space exploration and defence systems. It specialises in the designing, construction, development, testing, operation and maintenance of both commercial and military aircraft, spacecrafts and their components as well as satellites and missiles.

Environmental Engineering: Environmental Engineering related to Environmental science, is a broad field that apply the principles of science and engineering to protect and improve environmental conditions. The field focuses on design and technology for improving environmental quality. The main areas of environmental engineering include air pollution control, industrial hygiene, radiation protection, hazardous waste management, toxic materials control, recycling, water supply, wastewater management, storm water management, solid waste disposal, public health and land management. Within each of these major categories, there are many sub categories.

Marine Engineering: Marine engineering is a branch of Engineering that deals with nautical architecture and science. The term ‘Marine Engineering’ is meant for research conducted in oceans and coastal or inland waters connected to the sea. Marine Engineering courses deal with construction and maintenance of ships and other sailing vessels.

The three professions, i.e Naval Architecture, Marine Engineering and Ocean Engineering are interrelated and sometimes may be confused. Naval Architects are those who are involved with basic ship design, starting with hull forms and overall arrangements, power requirements, structure and stability. Ocean Engineers study the ocean environment to determine its effects on ships and other marine vehicles and structures. They may design and operate stationary ocean platforms, or manned or remote-operated sub-surface vehicles used for deep sea exploration. Marine Engineers have the complete responsibility of the ship’s technical management. They are responsible for selecting the ships’ machinery, which may include diesel engines, steam turbines, gas turbines; and for the design of mechanical, electrical, fluid and control systems throughout the vessel. They are the members of a ship’s crew who are in charge for managing a team of marine technicians and craftspeople. The construction, operations and maintenance of the engine room are the main obligation of a Marine engineer. That means the Marine engineer deals with the technical area of the ship. In fact, they are the overall in charge of the engine and its crew, and ensure the safety and standards of the marine body. The role of Marine Engineers has widened and smoothened with modern development and electronic navigation.

These are only a few of the numerous streams of specialization available, ranging from agricultural and marine engineering to petroleum and mining engineering.

Engineering roles are at the top of the pay scale for fresh hires in India.The median monthly salary of graduate engineers in engineering roles stands at Rs 25,000. The engineering sector representative of manufacturing, chemicals, oil and gas, natural resources and high technology are good paymasters, attracting campus talent. There is a positive momentum in salaries of non-IT engineering roles that largely reflects the sentiment of the industry. The entry-level salaries in non-IT engineering companies are comparatively higher because of the supply-demand mismatch.