Engineering & Technology, Mechanical Engineering

Is Mechanical Engineering a Lost World?

One of my relative’s daughter opted out of the JEE counselling process last year as she was offered a seat in Mechanical Engineering. Of course, she had her own strong reasons:

  • Mechanical Engineering doesn’t possess that charm anymore
  • Job prospects are poor with a degree in Mechanical Engineering
  • Being a girl, I don’t prefer to work alongside heavy machineries

I never intended to tear her down for her decision. However, I decided to utilize the free time of hers during this lockdown period, and unlock her mind to the scope and versatility of the contemporarily rich field of Mechanical Engineering.

Mechanical Engineering doesn’t possess that charm anymore

Enjoying the luxury, comfort and functionality of a modern automobile; sitting in a cool room and sipping a cool pack of kiwi juice delivered from a distant part of the world preserved through HVAC system; accessing the latest versions of utility products, clothes, medicines, food, shoes mass produced through smart manufacturing; savouring the enabled dexterity while playing the video games blessed by the motion sensor designs; utilizing robots to sanitize the house- Isn’t it really charming to be a part of the driving technical team of Mechanical engineers who conceptualize, design, fabricate and maintain such real life products/processes.

Further, the charm is to rise up to the right occasion. Worldwide, Mechanical Engineers have joined hands to design and develop COVID-19 response related products. A contributory effort towards product realization in terms of detection kits, disinfection robots, laser cut disposable face and eye shields, rapid prototyping of masks, PPE respirators, anti-microbial coating in medical equipment, trolley mounted large area sanitization equipment, UV sanitization handheld devices, automatic mist based sanitizer dispensing units, and many more in the pipeline.

Job prospects are poor with a degree in Mechanical Engineering

The famous Thomas Industry Insights, a service wing of Thomas International, upholds the fact that Mechanical Engineering has a much bigger engineering canvas, mainly due to the field’s smooth blend with the other areas of professional study. A recent survey by Times of India brought out the expanding prospects of Mechanical Engineering cutting across geographic boundaries and disciplines in the industry sectors to name a few:

  • Industrial Design, Aerospace, Automobile, Electronics, Marine, Defence, Consumer Goods, Construction, Materials and Metals, Energy & Power.

Remember the video of the song ‘This Too Shall Pass’ by the American rock band OK GO. The song was played with the band members singing alongside a giant Rube Goldberg machine whose parts were synchronized in time with music. In a recent TED talk, Adam Sadowsky, the American entrepreneur, described the features of the gigantic machine as a marvel of Mechanical Engineering. Special effects in the films heavily rely on Mechanical engineers specialized in computer aided design and prototyping. The point I like to hit home is:

  • Mechanical Engineers have a big demand in entertainment sector.

A recent survey projected 11% growth in the jobs for Mechanical engineers by 2026. Mechanical Engineering graduate job opportunities span the professional roles including:

  • Designers, Technical Managers, Analysts, Business Operators, Technical Sales Managers, Project Managers, Technical Inspectors, Software Engineering role in product and service-based companies.

In particular, National Design Policy (2007), Indian Design Council (2009), and CII published India Design Report (2018) envisions Design Enabled Indian Industry, thus, opening up further job avenues. Moreover, with the Make-in-India campaign in place, the empowerment of the manufacturing sector shall see the big players setting up their manufacturing plants in India. Additionally, alternative career roles exist in government organizations, Public Welfare Departments, banking sector, and consultancy.

The need of the hour is to choose an effective Mechanical Engineering programme, amongst the various offerings, which delivers the right skill set. Graduating with experiences in the latest trends in the field will, in turn, pave the path for a lucrative career in industries along with better scopes for switching-over career roles. Undergraduate experiences on traditionally rich Mechanical Engineering programme need to blend with the modern day demands of expertise in:

  • Design Engineering, Smart Manufacturing, HVAC Engineering, Micro & Nano Engineering, Smart Materials, Welding Engineering, Electric Vehicles, Bio-mechatronics, Automation and Robotics, Artificial Intelligence Applications, IoT enabled Mechanical Devices, Energy Systems Engineering.

The underlying fact is that the industry is ripe with opportunities but there is a shortfall of skill set, industry is presently looking for, among the candidates graduating with Mechanical Engineering degrees. It’s high time; an aspirant develops awareness and chooses the right programme to give a scintillating start to his/her career.

Being a girl, I don’t prefer to work alongside heavy machineries

It is not very unusual that girls have a feeling that it is brawn (boys perceived to have a marginal advantage) that matters in the field of Mechanical Engineering. Notion is ripe that girls fail to manage the production line when she gets into an industry. Perceptions are viral that Mechanical industries are highly gender biased. This is 21st century, and it’s time to break these stereotypes.

It needs to be understood that Mechanical Engineering is not all about oil spills, dirty hands and dirty apparel. Mechanical Engineering is not only about Machines, and a common Mechanic who repair things. Who else can defy the misconceptions better than the leading women Mechanical engineers?

  • Lila Poonawala- Padma Shri awardee professional Mechanical engineer who acted as the chairperson of Alfa Laval India and TetraPak India.
  • Karen Nyberg- An American Mechanical engineer and NASA astronaut.
  • Alba Colon- She hailed from Spain and ruled the Stock Car Auto Racing as the Programme Manager of General Motors.
  • Kate Gleason- She was instrumental in giving birth to Gleason Corp. which is one of the world’s top providers of gear manufacturing machines, tooling, and technologies.
  • Priya Balasubramaniam- An engineer with a background in Mechanical Engineering, supply chain management, marketing and software engineering. She is currently the vice president of Core Technologies Operations and iPhone Operations at Apple Inc.

Nowadays jobs are based on talent and are not gender biased. It is no wondering that while scouting through any job site, the search results yield a large number of companies hiring female Mechanical engineers. Companies like Cummins India, leading technology innovator in turbos and fuel systems, hire female Mechanical engineers to be a substantial part of its workforce. With Government policies endowing certain privileges to companies with equal sex employee ratios, girls are always welcome to Mechanical field. Being a Mechanical engineer, girls have a bigger basket to choose from:

  • Design and Analysis, Vehicle Integration, Electromechanical jobs, Quality Assurance, Planning and Purchase, Vehicle Inspection, Software Development, Project Management, Technical Consultancy, Entrepreneurship.

Mechanical Engineering is a stepping stone for specialized fields of Aerospace Engineering, Automobile Engineering and Marine Engineering which are proven to be the exceptionally preferred destinations of female graduates. With its attraction of a work-life balance, research & teaching has also received big thumbs up.

Redesign your thought process, fuel your think-tank, and gear up for a journey to the prospective and vibrant world of Mechanical Engineering.

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