Specialised branches is the way ahead
ENGINEERING meant either Civil, Mechanical or Electrical branches in an earlier era. Interdisciplinary meant Electronics and Telecommunications. With the advent of computing, Information Technology became the new craze. As knowledge expanded and new challenges arose in the corporate field, new disciplines emerged as potential fields of study in many academic domains.
With the advent of new technologies, the boundaries between engineering branches are fast diminishing. Engineering is also evolving fast, and multidisciplinary studies are at par for the course. While disciplines like Textiles, Power and Petroleum have been in existence for a long time, new verticals are on the rise. Branches like Ceramic Engineering, Food Technology and Fashion Technology are up and coming in today’s engineering scenario. Here we a list out 14 not-so-conventional streams of engineering studies.
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Applied Electronics & Instrumentation
The creation of well-equipped devices for various purposes is unavoidable in the emerging era of automation and process industries. The study of Applied Electronics & Instrumentation deals with design and development of instruments and devices that can measure, control, regulate and record data involved in various industrial processes. These devices are critical for monitoring and controlling industrial processes. Some major courses offered by most institutes include programming techniques, design communication networks composed of sensors, actuators, PLCs, Control theory and so on.
Major Power plants, refineries, compressor stations, and several other manufacturing plants and research institutions need well-equipped manpower with a good understanding of modern equipment used in the industry. This branch of engineering finds application in fields like robotics, chemical engineering, rolling mills, process control and many such engineering disciplines.
Ceramics is a cutting-edge, low-cost material; hence the use of this material is on the rise. Ceramics engineering goes way beyond the manufacture of cereal bowls, plates, bathroom and kitchen tiles and so on. From the production of ceramic teeth, bones and joints to implementation of the same in fibre optic cables used by doctors to see inside the human body, manufacturing ceramic superconductors, lasers and so on, ceramic engineering is very much needed.
The branch deals with the creation of objects from inorganic and non-metallic materials by using heat, or lowering temperatures through precipitation reactions from high purity chemical solutions. Ceramic materials, being heat resistant finds usefulness in mining, aerospace, refinery, medicine and a wide range of industries.
The curriculum at most institutes includes courses like Materials Thermodynamics, Raw Materials Analysis, Ceramic Processing, Drawing of Refractory Lining and Joints, Ceramic Fabrication, Ceramic Equipment Design, Sensor Technology, Electrical and Magnetic Ceramics, Pollution & Waste Management in Ceramic Industry and lots more.
A BTech course in Dairy Technology trains students rigorously in milk processing. Apart from that, it also equips them with techniques related to processing of various milk products on offer in the market. Students get to know about these products and their quality control. They also learn to work with dairy processing equipment. Apart from working in the role of dairy scientists who analyse the production aspect of a company, successful graduates also get to work in quality control departments of milk plants, ice-cream units and so on. The National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal is the leading institute in this field in the country
Electronics plays a significant role in increasing the efficiency level of productivity in major industries including energy, agriculture, petroleum, chemical and lots of other industries. Even healthcare industry uses electronic instruments to perform various tests. Electronics Engineering is also involved in transport, factory and domestic sectors.
This particular branch equips students with designing, analysis and manufacturing of electronic devices (including wireless devices), integrated circuits and so on. One of the fastest engineering fields, there is tremendous scope for innovation and employment in Electronics Engineering. Some popular electives usually offered by institutes include Network Theory, Microprocessor and Peripherals, Analog Communication, Digital IC Applications, VLSI Technology & Processes, Telecommunication Switching Systems & Networks, Artificial Intelligence, Industrial Automation, Radar Systems and more. Electronics engineers have good scope for employment in both central and state government as well as private organisations including telephone industries, laboratories and so on.
An amalgamation of three disciplines - engineering, physics and mathematics - the subject deals with the study of the relationship between the three. It augments one’s understanding of the application of physics in day-to-day life through the application of basic scientific principles and theoretical skills and knowledge required for specific engineering applications. The role of an engineering physics professional is to perform research and development activities in telecom, micro devices, lasers, microelectronics and industries in similar domains.
Major electives in the course include: Classical/Quantum Mechanics, Condensed Matter Physics, Solid State Physics, Electromagnetic, Antennas and Propagation, Fibre Optics and Advanced Optical Communication, Mobile and Satellite Communication and so on. The curriculum allows students to hone their problem-solving abilities and hence bring about technological advancement.
A graduate of this discipline finds himself working in industries related to photonics, telecommunication, nanotechnology apart from DRDO, CSIR laboratories and lots more. If you love solving practical problems and physics as a subject, Engineering Physics is the best option for you.
This branch of engineering deals with the application of various techniques to maintain a healthy environment through the maintenance of air, water and land resources. With tremendous development of economy in the present era, environment pollution poses a serious threat and herein comes the role of environmental engineers.
An environmental engineer learns how to design, construct and maintain proper waste management system for habitation. The job profile of a professional in the field also includes analysis of possible health hazards in the environment due to various factors.
NGOs, research centres, and various governmental departments look out for environmental engineers. Environmental engineers evaluate and analyse various threats and hazards related to environment.
This one comprises various aspects of design which include quality control, designing, marketing, printing, merchandising of various textiles, apparels, garments and accessories. This course also equips a student to conduct market research, analyse trends and understand products with respect to quality, cost and standard. Students also learn ideas and techniques for new products. Some institutes also offer specialisations in garments, accessories, footwear, bags and so on. The student learns details of apparel production, coupled with the basics of Information Technology, which help him or her to significantly contribute as a Fashion Technology professional.
One can expect to work as executives, fashion designers and illustrators in industries oriented towards textiles and jewellery, as well as export houses, textile mills, boutiques, and jewellery houses.
Food technology is a branch of food science that equips a student with the technical side of food processing. As a student of Food Technology, one learns the art of preservation, processing and packaging food along with the techniques of transformation of raw materials into safe, nutritious, wholesome ready-to-consume food which can be sold by different organisations in a profitable manner.
It also involves addition of flavours, reduction of toxins and so on. With the rise in the demand for packaged and processed food, there is a rise in demand for manpower with good sense of packaging and preservation, which makes a product more marketable.
A Food Technology graduate can expect to see oneself as Quality Assurance Managers, Production Managers, Product development Technologists in leading packaging and food industries like Hindustan Lever, Amul, Nirula’s and similar companies.(read our career review in this issue).
Industrial & Production Engineering
The branch has its roots in the basic field of Engineering known as Mechanical Engineering but is more focussed towards meeting the demands of the Manufacturing sector in a more holistic manner. Manufacturing industries, these days, are on the constant look out for multiple ways of reducing cost of handling through innovative ways of packaging, storage and other efficient logistical processes.
A typical undergraduate course on Industrial & Production Engineering lays emphasis on manufacturing and improvement of productivity. A student learns the trends of dynamics and control and hence develops a sound knowledge about overall industrial production and management. He or she also learns to analyse the emerging technological trends of the industry.
A good and updated course on industrial and production engineering makes a student smart enough to understand the existing technological trends and adding new technology to the existing system so as to make it at par with the more recent trends.
Most leading manufacturing houses look out for engineers who specialise in Industrial Production so as to reduce costs, increase efficiency and make their products marketable in the competitive era.
Manufacturing industries constantly strive to reduce cost of handling and hence need people with sound knowledge about efficient productivity at low cost.
The branch trains one to blend the fields of applied art and applied science with a motive to improve a product both in terms of its visual aspect as well as its usability with respect to one’s requirements.
An industrial designer studies the sensori-emotional values of sentiment and taste to develop a product. They also learn to work on designs that are beneficial for people both in terms of one’s health and productivity. They also need to address marketing, brand development and sales-related issues while designing and developing a product.
In a market of competition and survival-of-the-fittest, it is very important to design something that looks good, usable and fit to suit the purpose of a customer, and all these at a low cost. A prime example of a company which has made itself a world-known brand due to the superior design of its products is Apple, with flagship products like iMac, iPod, iPad and iPhone.
Almost every marketing and production industry needs skilled people who can read the need of customer and design products accordingly to deliver them cost effective, useful products. Industry, design or architectural studios also look for graduates from this stream.
Industrial designers learn to understand the need of the customers and design products which are both marketable as well as cost effective.
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This branch is a form of applied Bio-Technology. A student learns to apply his knowledge of Bio-Technology for producing and processing materials, bio-energy, chemicals and also pharmaceuticals products. Industrial Bio-Technologists finds alternatives to preserve natural resources through finding alternatives and sustainable form of development.
Industry professionals in this domain learn to use micro-organisms and other enzymes for manufacturing products. They often replace chemical catalysts with biological catalysts to perform processes. On successful completion of the course, one finds work in sectors of paper and pulp, food industries, energy and textile firms.
We are in an era where there is a fight to reduce green house emissions and preserving the environment and planet. The industrial bio-technologists can assume a very prominent role as they are the ones who can come up with ideas of manufacturing products using less energy, reducing waste production and still ensuring higher yields at reasonable pricing. Industrial Bio-Technologists are people who can save planet Earth by reducing green house emissions while manufacturing products and hence they have a huge demand.
Information Science & Engineering
The study of Information science deals with the collection, categorization, strategising, storage and distribution of information. A graduate from this discipline is expected to understand and analyse the existing information systems in a firm and hence creating, replacing or modifying the existing set of system. The study of the discipline also focuses on investigation of properties and behavior of information and hence getting , the forces governing the flow of information, and the means of processing information for optimum accessibility and usability.
This discipline is combination of interdisciplinary aspects that includes computer science, management, mathematics, communications, law, social sciences, philosophy, public policy and many more.
This branch, like Industrial & Production Engineering, is also a shoot-off of Mechanical Engineering, and trains a student to understand the process of manufacturing from conceptualizing to packing and hence delivering a finished product in a marketable form. The course also teaches students to handle machines involved in the process of converting raw materials into a brand new product. A student of this discipline also learns to rationalize production cost in a manner so as to increase the return on investment and hence making the product cost effective.
A graduate of this stream is hired by almost all fields involved in producing goods. Industries in the domain of electronics, automobiles, healthcare, education, food, clothing, all hire manufacturing engineers to deliver cost effective goods.
In a booming competitive era, delivery of good quality-low price goods is extremely essential for survival of a company. Manufacturing engineers are the ones who help them achieve this need.
The branch broadly deals with all sorts of metal-related areas. Apart from basics of engineering, the course equips students with knowledge of designing, manufacturing and production of various metal products that ranges from cars and bikes to buildings and planes. Major areas of studies include Hydrometallurgy, Mechanical metallurgy, Heat treatment of steels and Welding metallurgy. Physical metallurgy, Extractive metallurgy and Mineral processing train students with problem solving abilities, ability to extract metal from ore and gathering mineral products from earth’s crust. These three are considered to be the major branches of Metallurgical Engineering. There are only a few seats in our country for this branch but there is good employment scope for graduates of this stream. Apart from huge scope in Research and Development of metallurgy, marketing departments of various firms look for Metallurgical engineers. In brief, any metallurgical company that deals with production, refining, and manufacturing of metal hires graduates from this stream.