Do You Want to Be an Engineer?

A few decades ago, studying engineering was considered to be a great thing. All the parents wanted their children to become engineers but there were very few engineering colleges around. It was considered to be the highest paying job at the time, and was a dream not only of the parents but also of the students to pursue higher studies in engineering, and to be the first engineer in the family. Unfortunately, not everyone succeeded.

Thus started the trend of engineering. All those students who didn’t make it through to engineering colleges made sure they worked hard enough for their children to do engineering. And they took pride in saying that their son/daughter was an engineer. It became a thing to flaunt – something that they could proudly present during marriage proposals. The children also caught on to the “engineering fever” for many reasons. At the time, only two professions were considered praiseworthy: engineering and medical (due to the society’s influence) and studying to become an engineer was cheaper and easier than studying to become a doctor. Moreover, the media also portrayed how amazing it was to do engineering. The false belief that engineering graduates have 100% employment opportunities spread rapidly.

Due to the increasing demand for engineering colleges in the nation, hundreds of colleges were suddenly established knowing that engineering colleges were a profitable business. Today there are about three thousand engineering colleges in India: and where there’s quantity, the quality is a question mark. The standard of education began to degrade: students were keen on getting into the field, but didn’t really want to get practical education. Their dreams were only to be called an engineer, while very few actually wanted to study science and technology.

Over 1.5 million engineers graduate each year in India – a majority of whom wished to pursue their careers in different fields as per their hobbies, interests and skills but were just too scared to take risks. And for the remaining few, who wanted to become engineers, it became a challenge to simply get into an engineering college with a decent reputation. Moreover, the fascinating IITs and NITs, the best engineering institutes in the nation are a dream of every engineering aspirant. Students right after 10th grade stress about the national level common entrance tests such as the JEE Mains and JEE advanced. They join IIT coaching institutes to prepare for the aptitude test. In Tamil Nadu, to get into any engineering college affiliated to Anna University, the 12th standard board exams played a huge role. Students are expected to crack the final board exam with a relatively higher cut-off percentage. They have to fight for their seat.

Apart from this, another theory arose that if one scores well enough in the class 12 board exams, he/she will be able to excel in engineering. Bright young minds were therefore forced to join engineering as they had the capability to study well. Thus, India lost many talented minds who fell into the trap of engineering without being given the chance to choose their career. Between doing what they wanted to do and doing what they were made to, thoughts of passion and desire were forgotten. Furthermore, the pay comes into play. It was believed that engineering pays more than arts degrees. The need for money overtook the passion and the dream. Yet, more than 60% of engineering college pass-outs are unemployed in India. As a result, in the past couple of years, we see that about 45% of the total available engineering seats remain vacant.

Students these days are not like those of a decade ago. There is an evolution of thought among the students. It is no longer the desire of the parents or the need for money that drives youngsters to pursue engineering. These students are able to distinguish on their own how to go about choosing their career paths with their interests and the scope in the field. This decision of children to follow their dreams over parental pressure is a huge step towards students finding themselves truly, instead of just running all their lives behind something they don’t really want. Today’s youth are ready to take risks with their career; they are swift to follow their heart’s desires with all the determination needed to reach their goal. They are finding their talent and their passion. Today, the dream itself has become the motivation and not the money or the crown.

Contributed by Sarah Meryln

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