“Pata hai? Bada hokar na main engineer banuga. Mere bhaai ne bhi engineering kari thi. Usmein bahut paise hai.”
There goes this story of a professor in a reputed Engineering College who would go around asking lone students about the reason they wanted to be an Engineer. It is said that he hasn’t found a worthy answer yet.
I do not know if the story is true, but Engineering Colleges are in a terrible shape. Parents usually turn a blind eye to these tales, firstly because they remember how glorious it was to be an Engineer back when they were young and, secondly because they read articles about the extraordinary 1-2 crores package offers that only a select few receive from the world’s top companies.
“Even though India produces more than five lakh engineers annually, only 17.45% of them are employable for the IT services sector, while a dismal 3.51% are appropriately trained to be directly deployed on projects. Further, only 2.68% are employable in IT product companies, which require greater understanding of computer science and algorithms.”
The above findings are from the National Employability Report of 2011 which is undertaken annually by Aspiring Minds. The report further states, “An economy with a large percent of unemployable qualified candidates is not only inefficient, but socially dangerous.”
What about the non-IT sectors? Well, they do not fare well either, as revealed by the same annual report conducted in 2014. “For core jobs in mechanical, electronics/electrical and civil engineering only a mere 7.49% are employable.” It also reveals that “Over 40% employable graduates beyond the top 30% colleges have no way to signal their employability to potential recruiters”.
So 9 out 10 of most engineers are not employable and about half of those who are employable are not recruited by the top companies just because their college isn’t in the top tier of engineering institutes.
Now, there can be several reasons for this. In foreign countries, most traditional degree programs are at least several years behind the industry standards. In India, the gap can even be multiple decades. Even in colleges which have up-to-date syllabus, there is a lack of adequate faculty to teach those courses. There is a system of rote learning in colleges where the students might know of the concepts, but they really do not understand them or know how to apply them.
In a country with more than 3000 Engineering colleges, is earning a profit the only focus of these higher education institutes? There is an infamous saying, “Engineering colleges mein kuch padhai nahi hoti”. This isn’t true. Speaking from personal experience, “Engineering colleges mein padhai toh hoti hai, par dhang ki padhai nahi hoti.”
Research papers and publications are a good measure of the worth of professors. Apart from the top IITs, less than 1% of all Engineering Colleges churn out a sizeable amount of research each year. Colleges mask their poor teaching with great placement cells. The following tweet by Zomato’s Founder and CEO Deepinder Goyal after being denied a Day 1 slot in Placements at IIT-Delhi shall shed some light at how placement cells work.
“Ek baar jaake poocho jinko best packages milte hai, ki usmein unke college ka kitna haath hai, aur unka kitna haath hai.” Sure, the top Engineering Colleges get all the top firms due to efforts of their great placement cells, how many of them actually impart the hard skills needed to get a job? Ask fourth-years and most of them will choose not to say a word against the College publically.
Some of them will tell you though, anonymously, that the college will not teach you anything you can’t learn on your own. These are the students who have spent their nights for the past three years learning to Code from online resources and frantically solving questions on SPOJ and CodeChef just to get noticed by the recruiters.
This is the situation of Engineering Colleges, something you probably won’t get to know before you actually enter one. Is this all Engineering has come to mean?
Engineering is about creating things, discovering new tools, solving real world problems and making existing structures more efficient. Engineers are lovers of math and science, computer and logic; they are those who create the new world we step into. That is the real aim to this field one that has been largely forgotten.
So before you spend two years of your life preparing for an examination which determines which Engineering College you get into, ask yourself, again: Why do you want to become an Engineer?