Maximise Your Engineering Degree

Engineering student sitting on stairs and working

Four must-dos during your course that will make it worth the money you spend.

Fresh out of high school, an engineering degree is one of the most popular options that we have in front of us. With the knowledge gathered through the years and some social pressure, we pick a particular stream in engineering. Initially, we have an idea of what we want at the end of four years of under graduation; generally, it is either a good career at a renowned company where we can apply the skills that we gained or pursuing higher education. Ultimately, every one of us wants to do our bit in making the world a better place.

Fast forward four years, most of us find ourselves sitting for an interview at an IT company for a role that does not match what we studied and one that we did not want. Desperation for a job and social pressure of being unemployed brings us here. What happened to our ambitions of making the world a better place? Are we compromising our goals for the need of a job/money? If so, what did we do in the four years for us to get into this situation? The answer is we did “NOTHING”. You read it right; we did nothing to take care of our career, so life made us choose a career that we did not want.

A look into our resume will tell us the story of what we did during under graduation. Ninety percent of us will have only the following: One major project and one mini project, everybody will be an organiser of some sort of a “national symposium” in which only students from your city participate, and everybody will have multiple software skills, but none of these skills would have been used in the projects we worked on.

There is nothing that differentiates us from thousands of engineers graduating with us, and, hence, most of us land up at IT companies who re-train us for a totally different role.

Is there a way to change this? Is there a way to maximize your engineering degree so that your dreams are nurtured and realized? The answer is yes.

Start small

Capitalize on the excitement during your first year. As you enter college, you are excited about the various possibilities you can explore.

Utilize this excitement in a positive way and find a problem you would like to work on. Anything that irritates you or amazes you in daily life might be the perfect starting point. It could be your bike’s brake which doesn’t work as well as you want it to, or the music system which does not produce enough volume, or your phone getting stuck too often, or all these things working brilliantly.

Pick one; you do not have to know the physics behind it. All you need to do is to try and understand how it works and rebuild it. As you move forward, you will get stuck at some point. That is when you call your friends across different departments and ask them to join you. In a couple of months, you may not have fixed what you wanted, but would have understood the mechanism.

You will not know the physics, but you will understand it more intuitively when it is taught. And by getting your friends in, you would have learned networking and co-working 101. This experience will build your confidence in getting things done. Start with something small and build on it.

Skill development

While the first year was about experimenting, the second is about acquiring skills that help you solve the problems that interest you.

Look out for opportunities that present this learning experience. There are multiple ways in which one can acquire a skill.

Intern at a company that develops the product you are interested in. Network yourself into the company; be open to working on anything the company wants you to work on. And in your free time or extra hours, learn the skills you want to acquire by associating yourself with the right people in that company.

Join a club or a team in your college that works on the skill set you want to acquire. If there is no club or a team, then start one; you will be surprised to see all the people who will join you.

The third option is to enroll in a project-based coursework outside the college. Remember, you need to enroll for the skill you are going to acquire and not for a sheet of paper called “certificate.” Make sure it is a project-based coursework which would let you follow a hands-on approach.

Specialisation

Your experiments from the first year and the skills you acquire in your second year will give you a sense of what you want to do in the future. You might appreciate certain topics; pick one of them and develop its real world application. Most often, this means reproducing something that is already present, which is fine; it is the first step towards innovation. Try to do this by your fifth semester.

If you are enjoying it, you can improvise on it for your sixth-semester mini project. If not, you can experiment on another topic.

Find your interest

By the final year, most of you would have figured out what you want to work on, but some students may still not be sure. Here is a quick hack to find your interest.

Pick your transcripts and choose 3-5 subjects in which you scored the most. Amongst these courses, pick one that looks interesting and start working on a project. If, after two months, you make any progress and want to learn more and solve the next step of the problem, then that is your area of interest; but if you are tired of the topic and want to switch, then pick the next subject and work on a project based on it. This method helps you narrow down your interests.

Projects, internships, competitions and hands-on experience in the four years of your course will give you a glimpse of what you like; look at ways in which you can pursue it further.

Irrespective of which year you are in, you can apply these four steps. Enthusiasm, experimentation, perseverance and friends define our college days. All we need to do to get the most out of our engineering degree is to channelise these four factors productively. The recognition, knowledge and the fun while doing all this will make your under graduation worth the money you spend.

 

– Authored by Suryanarayanan Paneerselvam, co-founder, EdXengine.

Source: The Hindu

(All views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent MentorYes’s viewpoint or recommendations. Readers are advised to consider and evaluate the views presented here before implementing them in their preparation or otherwise.)