Thursday, April 11, 2019

Fancy Engineering Undergraduate (UG) Courses

Recently I came across some media reports which suggest some new courses launched at undergraduate (UG) level (BE., B Tech) that are likely have huge demand in next five years. Since I doubt that claim, this blog is specifically to express my views on that subject.

Some of the UG courses predicted to have huge demand and job opportunities, in next five years are: robotics, automation, automotive design, data analytics, polymers, biochemical engineering, mechatronics. I would not like to mention any specific course, but try to put forward my view, giving some examples.

Few years back, a new engineering UG course was launched by a renowned university in Maharashtra (India), titled “Instrumentation Engineering”, with much fanfare. At that time, large number of students opted for the course. However, even before the first batch of UG students passed out in that course, it was realised it has very few job opportunities. As a result, many private engineering colleges that initially started the course backed out and closed the Department. In my opinion, any graduate mechanical, chemical or electronics engineer can fulfill the requirement of instrumentation engineer, after a brief initial training.

The story is somewhat similar in case of Bio-Chemical Engineering at UG level. Any UG chemical engineer can work in a biochemical industry, perhaps better, because he is able to take a 3600 view as a chemical engineer. There can be no difference of opinion, if I say mechanical, electrical or electronics engineer can work in robotics, automation, mechatronics and so on.

The point is, the job opportunities shall be much limited for the graduates (BE, B Tech) passing out from narrow engineering courses like biochemical engineering or robotics. To give an example, a chemical engineer graduate can work in biochemical engineering and also in many other chemical industries, but a graduate with biochemical engineering degree will find it difficult or will not be accepted by other chemical industries.

I feel, while choosing the engineering branch, first preference should be given to basic branches like chemical, civil, computer, electronics, electrical and mechanical engineering. It is better to avoid joining UG course with a narrow engineering scope, as discussed above. These subjects should be left for PG (MS, M Tech, ME) qualification.

Image Source: CERDEC Math and Science Summer Camp, 2013, US Army, Creative Commons License. 

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