Chennai: The first phase single window counseling for admission to engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu, which drew to a close on Monday, is sure to dishearten the manufacturing and infrastructure industries.
Nearly 80 percent of over 15,000 aspirants who had chosen a seat at the four counseling centers in the State have dumped the core engineering branches-Mechanical, Civil and Chemical-in favour of the lucreative circuit branches – Electronics and Communication, Information Technology, Computer Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Electronics.
The unhealthy pattern has emerged since the revival of the Information Technology industry in 2003-04 when head-hunters began picking up freshers, offering fancy pay packets.
As students are not inclined to give core technical courses a try, barring government colleges and a few reputed self-financing institutions, core engineering seats have few or no takers in around 200 colleges. Academics warn that this short-sighted approach will not fetch students returns in the long run.
“It will be sensible for students to move away from the past mindset. By the time this batch comes out of colleges they will find that core engineers will be in high demand,” pointed out M Anandakrishnan, eminent academic and former vice-chancellor of Anna University. It is easier to convert a mechanical engineer into a computer engineer but not vice versa.
“The problem is that the students are not informed of the opportunities in core engineering branches which are equally challenging. With the manufacturing sector growing at the rate of 10 to 11 percent, the industry requirement for mechanical engineers is going to be high. Since our infrastructure is one of the worst, we will need a lot of civil engineers,” observed Prof V G Idichandy, Dean (Students), Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
“Everyone is looking at short-term benefits and not the future. This mad rush for circuit branches is unjustified,” Prof Idichandy said. In future, companies would look for people with knowledge in core domains and ability to apply IT in their fields, according to Anandakrishnan.
“The economy of future India is going to be largely governed by core engineering domains. The other trend that is emerging is that outsourcing in the IT industry is now expanding to automobile designing and other core areas. Therefore, simple software programming skills alone will not suffice,” he explained.