The reasons one chose to become an engineer were quite different back then. It was to do with peer pressure and almost expected if one were good at mathematics with above-average intelligence. As an educator for the last 35 years, I have seen the changing landscape, be it the technological trends, industrial revolutions, evolving career options and more, both from student and educator point of view. Here are five reasons why you must still choose engineering:
New interdisciplinary ‘avatar’
The rigid walls between various disciplines of engineering have ceased to exist. The interdisciplinary options have allowed students to pursue their passion and changed the way we look at engineering. Core engineering courses and domain knowledge have become important to support AI and data science applications in all fields. More engineering specialists would be required as we enter the digital era; engineers with a background in coding, data analytics, computer applications, cybersecurity, machine learning, and the likes will be assured of lucrative careers.
A wide range of new programmes has been introduced in emerging areas. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, aviation, gaming design, data science, web technology, and cybersecurity will see a wide scope for application in the future. The GenZ grew up with these technologies, so these programmes could easily capture their imagination.The opportunities are varied and in diverse areas of application. There are also plentiful possibilities to apply tech in the field of life sciences, healthcare, and housing while pursuing engineering. With industry 4.0, a combination of core engineering with a specialisation in any of these emerging technologies is the way to go.
As an academician and a professional, I absolutely vouch for the benefits of pursuing an engineering programme. The advantage of being surrounded by professionals at all levels and the exposure to industry and its functioning makes a lifetime impact on young minds. Handling pressure, working under strict time limits, the importance of timely submissions, tuning oneself to working in teams, a diverse peer group, pitching for funding, trouble-shooting, are just a sample of what an engineering graduate goes through in the four years of graduation.
This builds the mindset required of a tech professional or a manager and comes in handy later in a corporate or industrial set-up. An engineering mind helps grasping complex processes in any sector easier. The ability to think differently, strong conviction, and an action-oriented mindset, are by-products in the process of becoming an engineer.
The job market for engineers has always been stable, secure, and lucrative. I see it expanding multifold in the coming years. IT and tech giants are hiring in tens of thousands. The specialisations of data science/AI/cybersecurity are expected to ride the next wave of hiring with the expected hiring of young graduates crossing millions. What has changed and what is a fantastic change is the multidisciplinary hiring.
The demand is expected to increase for say, a core mechanical or civil engineer with a background in robotics, AI, automation and the likes. The job profiles for engineers are getting more interesting and diverse. In addition to core engineering, engineers are now sought-after from the finance/marketing/insurance/ agriculture sectors too. Film making, editing, sound engineering, media and the gaming industry are other areas where engineers find their calling. The potential and suitability of engineers as managers is well-proven over the years.
There is a need for a new breed of global engineers who can take up the challenge of improving the daily lives of developing communities. Also, with artificial intelligence gradually becoming all-pervasive, engineering is fast losing its single dimension identity. Earlier, opting for engineering meant one had to give up all other interests be it medicine, pure sciences, literature, humanities and the likes. But with multidisciplinary research and product development engineering, they can go back to pursuing their interests in various fields all while having a secure career.
Engineering is essentially the science of finding solutions to human problems. Engineers have been at the forefront of attempting to solve problems that could range from designing an efficient way of erecting a pillar to splitting the atom. But how does this translate to our daily life? This is where the study of engineering makes a difference. It teaches students to develop a perspective rooted in logic and critical analysis where they can learn to approach any given problem in different ways, work out probable solutions based on scientific principles, and then assess them through experimentation. This will never go out of style.
(The writer is Dean of NMIMS Mukesh Patel School of Technology Management and Engineering, Mumbai.)