Friday, May 29, 2015

As results of different Engineering Entrance Exams are declared, students and parents start getting anxious and try to grapple with the usual dilemmas about which are the better colleges, scope of branches of Engineering and what are the likely prospects of getting admission in different colleges. This article tries to address the frequently asked questions and typical dilemmas that students face during this crucial phase.
Firstly, Engineering must be taken up for undergraduate studies by any student who has above average logical & mathematical intelligence and has either genuine passion for a particular field of Engineering or is perhaps confused about his career prospects. Over a period of few years (typically 4th year of Engg.), the student shall discover his or her career path which may or may not be related to the Engineering field of his undergraduate studies. However, Engineering education fosters logical thinking, analytical skills and a practical sense which proves invaluable for many other careers like Corporate Management, Civil Services, Entrepreneurship etc. Therefore, Engineering for undergraduate studies in India must be pursued with this broad mind-set.
Secondly, it must be appreciated that there are only 2 fundamental branches of Engineering viz. MECHANICAL Engg and ELECTRICAL Engg. All other branches of Engineering are derivatives of these 2 fundamental branches of Engineering. The branches of Civil Engg, Production Engg., Chemical Engg, Metallurgical Engg, Industrial Engg are all sub-branches of Mechanical Engineering. Likewise, Power Engineering, Electronics Engg, Telecommunications Engg, Computers Engg. are all sub-branches of Electrical Engineering.
It must be noted that Computers Science is a mathematical field and is taught rigorously only in the IITs & BITS PILANI and not in other colleges in India. All other Engg. colleges teach a mix of Computers Engineering (hardware) and Information Technology (software programs, packages, internet, apps etc.) under the guise of Computers Department. So be clear that Computer Science, Computers Engineering and Information Technology are 3 different departments but are presented by different colleges with interchangeable nomenclatures.
There are some branches of Engineering which have come up by combining two or more departments. For example, Mechatronics Engineering is combination of Design aspect of Mechanical Engineering and Microelectronics aspect of Electronics Engineering. Again, Aerospace Engg. is formed by combining Fluids & Design aspect of Mechanical Engg., Materials aspect of Metallurgical Engg. and Microelectronics aspect of Electronics Engg.
Again, Petroleum Engg. is a sub-branch of Chemical Engg. And Environmental Engg. is formed by combining aspects of Civil and Chemical Engg.
Thirdly, the choice of branch of Engineering must be as broad-based as possible. It is better to choose a specialization for post-graduate studies rather than committing oneself to a narrow field at an undergraduate level. This is also due to the fact that most students truly do not know what exactly lies in the different Engineering branches and express their interest based on vague ideas which may often be flawed.
Fourthly, knowledge about computer programming is needed for all branches of Engineering and Science today and hence shall have to be learnt by every Engg. student. This is due to the fact that in every field there are computational tools of analysis (simulation) which are widely used currently. Hence, knowledge of IT is indispensable for every Engineer today. No wonder, many students after Engineering diversify into software field as they find it lucrative and/or more interesting.
Fifthly, every branch of Engineering has scope in terms of job opportunities, further studies opportunities and research if the student has genuine passion for the field. It is unreasonable to suggest that the hot branch is E&TC and some other branch is a poor branch. Every field has its charm and beauty and there is no hierarchy of fields as such. So a student should choose a branch based on passion and not simply the perceived scope as such. This is also suggested as perceived scope keeps changing every year as per global economic market conditions and hence cannot be relied upon to prevail after 4 years.
Sixthly, students suffer from a dilemma of whether to give college more preference or branch of Engineering. The resolution of the dilemma lies in the medium-term aspirations of the student i.e. what the student intends to do after graduation. If the thrust is towards a Job, MBA, UPSC, then college must be given preference over branch of Engg. However, if further studies in India or abroad or Research / Academia is the thrust, then branch must be chosen over the college.
Seventhly, students have a question if Maharashtra colleges of Engineering are as good as non-IIT National-level colleges like NITs, IIITs, DA-IICT, VIT-Vellore, MANIPAL, SRM etc. The interesting fact is that though in terms of curriculum and quality of education, Maharashtra colleges of Engineering are considerably inferior to national level colleges, the A-grade Engineering colleges of Maharashtra (about 40 in number) have excellent future scope in terms of job, further studies options and even overall brand equity. However, what a student gains by going into a National college is the vibrant campus life there wherein students from across India come together unlike State colleges. This exposure is much desired and recommended in today’s globalised world wherein EQ counts equal or more than IQ (or professional quotient (PQ) or degree as some call it).
Eighthly, admissions to Maharashtra Engineering colleges happen through 3 types of quotas viz. 65% State quota, 15% All India quota and 20% Management quota. The admissions to 65% of the seats in unaided colleges is on the basis of the 50-50 Rule wherein 50% weightage is given to XII Boards PCM Percentile (not marks) and 50% weightage is given to JEE MAINS Percentile (not marks). It must be noted that a score of about 75% in XII PCM corresponds to about 90 Percentile points. And a score of 100+ in JEE MAINS out of 360 marks corresponds to about 90 Percentile points. Also note that a score of 50 marks in JEE MAINS would correspond to 45 Percentile points. So JEE  MAINS is the deciding factor for admissions and not XII Boards so much.
However, admissions via the 15% All India quota is on the basis of JEE MAINS marks only. Please note that autonomous colleges do not have Management quota and usually take most of their admissions on the basis of 50-50 Rule only.
Ninethly, marks scored in XII Boards PCM are important for admissions to Maharashtra colleges. And Aggregate marks (5 subjects) scored in XII Boards PCM have relevance for NIT / IIIT admissions.
Tenthly, from 2015 onwards admission to 88 National-level colleges which includes the 17 IITs, 30 NITs, 4 IIITs etc. shall be via a joint counseling mechanism from June end onwards. It shall be co-ordinated by a joint team from IITs and NITs as per Court and HRD directives.
Similarly, admissions to Maharashtra colleges shall be through a CAP mechanism instituted by DTE, Maharashtra. It normally happens in 2 phases viz. First phase is for admissions into the 12+ Autonomous colleges of Maharashtra and then the second phase is for 350+ Private Colleges of Maharashtra. There are multiple rounds in each phase and the rules change every year. Students and parents must read the rules properly from the official websites of the Govt.
The admissions of private National level colleges like BITS, VIT-Vellore, Manipal and SRM shall all happen separately online by a separate process altogether. Students must read their individual websites to understand their admission rules and procedures.
The above points must be kept in mind by students, parents and other stake-holders during this crucial phase of Engineering admissions.
-          Durgesh C. Mangeshkar

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