Engineering is injurious to health, engineering causes frustration.
If you study engineering, you will have a good future.’ This is a claim often repeated to children and teenagers by parents and teachers in many parts of India. But those who have pursued and are pursuing engineering know that it’s not completely true. Many of us are either forced or brainwashed to choose engineering after school by our parents, who are labouring under the illusion that it is the gateway to money and success. I always had a doubt; but now, years after graduating, I know for sure that studying what we like and doing what we enjoy may not always lead to money and success but it is definitely the route to happiness.
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
We are not talking about just a few random youngsters getting lost in the career highway. We are talking about a huge portion of our population who are growing up without knowing why they are studying the course they are studying and what they want to do with it.
If Einstein was born in India, his parents would have made him study mechanical engineering and he would have become a banker after working for a software coding company.
Ask yourself why you studied what you studied? What did you want to do in life, when you were in school, before the concept of earning money and going to work entered your mind? Is there any relationship between what you wanted to do, what you studied and what you are doing now? Be frank with yourself Don’t try to fool yourself.
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Students of engineering often end up as artists while several arts students study arts only because they couldn’t qualify for or afford an engineering degree. There are some who take engineering because they actually like engineering and want to make a career out of it, but these are only a minority among the lakhs of engineering students. The majority of us join engineering with no interest or purpose.
However, in India, children study what their parents want them to study, which is invariably the course that brings the most money. Then we proudly share on facebook and twitter that 20% of NASA scientists and 29% of Microsoft engineers are Indians. We are not able to create the next Facebook or Apple because we study engineering not to become engineers but to earn money. Money may be functionally important but it is never more important than happiness. We sacrifice happiness for money and then we spend that money to buy back our lost happiness.
In a four year engineering course, each of the 8 semesters have around 6 theoretical papers and 2 practical papers. The first year usually has the same subjects that you would have studied in 11th and 12th standard, just at a slightly higher level. The subjects are basically physics, chemistry, mathematics, english, etc., with a shiny coating — engineering physics, engineering chemistry, engineering mathematics, communication skills etc.
The ‘real’ engineering subjects start from the second year, where the in-depth study of concepts unknown to most students earlier comes into play. This is when many start to realize that passing each semester may not be as easy as it was in the first year. Studying the same school subjects in the first year helps the students settle down in the academic structure of an engineering college and helps them slowly come face-to-face with the real engineering subjects, which are obviously not as easy as the basic subjects studied in the first year. Many would have easily scored above 80% in the 1st year but from second year onwards they will struggle to get above 70% and soon just passing would be more than enough for most students, to prevent them from getting disqualified for appearing in the campus interview.
India produces a lot of engineering graduates but not engineers. An electrician knows more about electrical wiring and installation than an average electrical eng-ineering graduate. A mechanic knows more about bikes and cars than an average mechanical or automobile engineering graduate. Even if a student has taken up electrical or mechanical engineering without any interest, giving the student hands-on experience in electrical wiring and operations of car mechanics will create interest in students to explore his/her area of study.
Our syllabus is not designed or implemented to encourage original thinking; it encourages memorizing facts and theories. Any creative and free-thinking student who likes engineering would find it difficult to stick to this pattern of education. As a result, the course of study not only fails to generate interest in students who have chosen engineering under force, but it also actually destroys the enthusiasm of students who joined engineering with interest.
We are engineers, we fix everything, from broken machine appliances to broken hearts. We engineers are survivors, we’ve been through hell and back again. We carry ideas with a potential capable of changing the world. We are awesome because we have completed ENGINEERING.