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Emerging Careers for the Modern-Day Engineer!

Over the last four decades; starting from 1971, when the fabrication of the first microprocessor with 1MHz operation happened, there has been an unprecedented rapid development in Computer-based solutions and operations across all aspects of human life and activities. Similarly in 1983 with the invention of hand-held mobile by Martin Cooper and team at Motorola, came the mobile revolution starting from early 2000. Currently, miniaturized microprocessors and microcontrollers along with the evolution of high speed internet have been transforming the world since 2010. The tremendous growth in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and their convergence has made human life much easier. Collective intelligence and behavioral aspect of socially networked population which enjoys high speed communication, touch screen based gadgets, has transformed the community into a device-addicted society. In last five years starting from 2012 there have been major breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence and automation that has led to new and emerging domains which were just imaginary a decade ago.
So it necessitates an aspiring engineer to widen his/her thought process and look at fundamentals more seriously in order to be part of the upcoming active workforce. Couple of years ago an engineering graduate with limited knowledge in specific domain could have easily landed a job in the IT-based service industry; particularly in India. All that was required was basic arithmetic and good communication skills particular in the English Language, But now domains like Artificial Intelligence , Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Flexible Manufacturing, Nano Satellite, Machine Learning, Digital Agriculture, Intelligent Healthcare have taken over the world. There have been remarkable changes in job skills required and career growth patterns in the Indian context due to these new technologies which require different sets of skills and knowledge in specific domain.
So, if an individual who wants to be an engineer he/she should have some idea about what domains he/she may end up working in after passing the basic bachelors degree in engineering, technology or science. Though the domain names changes continuously over time, the fundamentals remain the same. Most of the current emerging disciplines are based on earlier developed technologies. For example, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the product of convergence of Automation, Sensor Design, Actuators, Embedded System, Wireless Communication and Networking. So what the industry is looking for is a passionate engineer; one with strong fundamentals in one particular domain and sufficient understanding of related disciplines. Since programming has become must for all, that alone as a skill cannot suffice the industry requirements any more. Secondly, with the growth in automation and AI it has become a must for an engineer to have in-depth knowledge in a specific engineering discipline. AI and Machine Learning is all about providing intelligence to the already available in conventional machinery and equipment. In this context let’s have a look at few of the emerging disciplines by 2025.
IoT-Wearable Electronics
The present day technology offers solutions to reduce the cost and at the same time provide quality diagnostic, monitoring, therapeutic solutions for management of patients’ healthcare. The major focus of this research area is towards developing low cost embedded solutions for real-time data collections from patients. Simultaneously it focuses on developing technology to communicate sensor’s data wirelessly for IoT applications.
To pursue a career in this domain, students would require a B.E. degree in Information Technology (IT) / Computer Engineering (CE/CSE/ CS) / Electronics & Telecommunication (E&TC) / Chemical Engineering / Mechanical Engineering. But more importantly, they should have additional skills in Embedded Systems Design / Programming Languages and ability to work with interfaces. Specializations in Embedded Systems, Wireless Communication, Mechatronics, Biomedical Engineering or Communication Engineering at Masters Level is also required.
3D Printing Technology
3D Rapid prototyping have seen tremendous growth in recent years. But it is still at its infancy in India. The main aim of this technology-based research is to design, develop and implement low cost prototyping systems and flexible manufacturing systems to focus on indigenous requirements.
A passion for 3-D based design alongside a B.E. degree is a must to look at opportunities in this field. Sound knowledge of inter-disciplinary areas of Mechanical and Embedded Systems Design is essential. Being electronic based, a passion for hardware is also expected. To enhance knowledge after under graduate (B.E.), students must try and pursue a Masters Degree in Flexible Manufacturing / Industrial Design / Product Design / Mechatronics / Biomedical as well; as many biological materials are now being printed using this technology.
Satellite Engineering
Micro and Nano satellites have been restricted to academic research in the last two decades. Availability of powerful, low cost and less weight processing systems have created new commercial space for development of Nanosatellites for low altitude applications. Research in this area is focused towards two sectors – one, developing Stationary High Altitude Relay Platform (SHARP) and two, developing swarm based Nanosatellites for space applications.
A B.E. in Computer Engineering (CE / CSE / CS) / Electronics & Telecommunication (E&TC) / Information Technology (IT) / Electronics is a pre-requisite for considering a career in this area. More importantly, students should have good skills in using tools like Labview / Matlab or any CAD tools. A Postgraduate specialization in Satellite Engineering or Wireless Communication is also vital if one wants to be successful in this sphere.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)
Autonomous & Remotely Controlled UAV and terrestrial vehicles research is focused on developing application specific systems. The applications include agriculture, defence and remote monitoring systems. The development also includes integration with IoT platforms specifically for civilian use.

If a student is keen to pursue his / her career into this area, he/ should first obtain a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering / Electronics / Electronics & Telecommunication (E&TC) / Computer Engineering (CSE / CE / CS) / Information Technology (IT). The basic degree needs to be augmented with a sound knowledge of Embedded Hardware and design skills using CAD / CAM tools and a Post graduate specialization in Aerospace Systems / Robotics / Mechatronics / Aviation Engineering or Technology / Space Communication.
Alternative Energy Systems
The alternative energy scenario has been growing steadily in the last two decades. Solar and Wind based energy solutions have developed rapidly with breakthrough in semiconductor technologies and turbine design. The goal is to develop low cost monitoring and energy management systems for IoT applications. These applications include Smart City solutions and remote monitoring systems.
To take up a career in this challenging sector, students would have to complete a B.E. / B.Tech in Electrical Engineering / Chemical Engineering / Mechanical Engineering; but being inter-disciplinary, it is imperative that students utilize their under graduate time to develop a passion for Embedded Systems / Basic Electronics. This will help them get into the industry directly. A PG / MS / M Tech in Energy Systems / Solar Powered Systems / Nuclear Engineering / Production Engineering / Power Electronics will augment a student’s career growth in this field.
Aeroponics is a new technology based on soilless growth of plants. Considering the climatic changes and decrease in land used for agriculture, Aeroponics offers solutions to use the open spaces as well concrete structures available for maximum production of agricultural products. The researches in this area are focused on developing low cost portable systems as wells large area smart monitoring systems for agriculture. The systems include interfaces for IoT and remote sensing technologies.
Though the domain is related to agriculture, technical skills are what are important. A student who wishes to develop his / her career in this field should hold a B.E. degree in Electrical / Electronics & Telecommunication (E&TC) but must definitely has a passion for Embedded Systems Design / Wireless Communication as well as an enthusiasm for agricultural techniques and farm equipment. With these knowledge, students can directly get into the industry; if not, they can pursue their Masters / Research in Digital Agriculture / Urbanized Agriculture / Environmental Sciences / Energy Systems.
Intelligent Transportation system
With evolution of hi-quality cameras and sensor design, self-driving cars have today become a reality. Cost and energy consumption have been the major stumbling blocks for the evolution of self-driving cars; but precise brushless dc motors and energy storage technologies have significantly upgraded the self-driven system. Self-Learning Systems, Machine Learning and allied domains have enabled the computing platform in cars to take decisions that are similar to human thought processes.
To passionately engage in this domain, students would have to successfully complete a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering / Chemical Engineering / Electronics. Besides, they would have to develop an interest in understanding and working on Embedded Systems and/or Wireless Communication. Besides, learning some CAD tools is very important too especially in the area of 3-D modeling. This will get into directly into the industry where they can apply their knowledge. Higher education into Masters can be pursued in Robotics / Energy Systems / Automotive Embedded Systems / Production Engineering.
Photonics is an emerging technology that co-exists with VLSI and microelectronics. To overcome the limitations posed by Silicon-based chip design, light based technologies are making rapid progress across the world. Photonic Integrated Circuits have consistently emerged and are part of most of the Chip design CAD tools presently available in the market.
If a student wishes to take up a career in this sphere, he/she would have to complete a B.E. in Electrical / Electronics / Electronics & Telecommunication (E&TC). Capability and efficiency in using simulation tools like CAMSOL / ANSYS will be an added advantage. More importantly, the student should be focused towards research. Keenness to study further in Photonics Engineering / Optical Communication Systems / Nanotechnology / Micro Fabrication is imperative. Alongside this learning tools like LUCEDA / PHOENIX / PHOTON DESIGN will be advantageous.
Those who are passionate about becoming an successful engineer in these spheres must have inherent interest towards Creating, Building And Analyzing Things Scientifically. Programming skills and the ability to build with hands is a must for all irrespective of the educational qualification one chooses to pursue..
As an engineer one needs to start with a basic undergraduate degree B.E. and follow it up with specialization at the Masters level. This can guarantee a stable career. As the IT service industry stabilizes from the recent setbacks due to technology and visa related issues, the pay packets at the entry level are predicted to go down to almost half of what is was a year ago. For an individual with a yearning to learn, the ability to manage things independently and progress, entrepreneurship can be a good option. But caution has be to taken that ideas are good only if they can be commercialized. Service-based entrepreneurship is purely dependent on consumers’ spending ability and application tools android ( like Ola and Uber kind of apps). Most successful ones are the ideas wherein the core is product, like Elon Musk who began with small software company but later was able to combine his skill with passion to create SpaceX and TESLA motors. Far sightedness and having genuine interest are the keys that make successful technocrats.
Author Name:
Prof.Rabinder Henry
Pralhad P Chhabria Research Center (PPCRC), Pune
Prof. Rabinder. Henry is currently the Director at Pralhad P.Chhabria Research Center, Pune (A Project of Finolex). His thrust areas of work have been in transforming the education system specifically in Engineering Higher Education by making it more applied intelligence oriented. Formerly been Director for Engineering Colleges and also been CTO in the industry. He has a Master of Science Degrees in RF & Microwave Engineering (1) and Photonics (2) from Technical University Dresden and Master of Science in Medical Systems Engineering (3) form University of Magdeburg, Germany. He has worked with Fraunhofer Institute for Photonics Microsystems, Institute for Mikrosystemtechnik, Magdbeurg and Helmholtz Zentrum Rossendorf, Germany. His areas of interest include Microwave Engineering, Microfabrication, Bio implants, Photonics, Nanotechnology and convergence of technology. Professional member of many bodies IEEE, VLSI Society of India, ISTE, and ISC etc. Established Institutes at Meerut, Jaipur and Pune.

His profile has been published by Marquis Publications in Who’s Who in World 2009. Global Young Leader by UNDP (United Nations Development Program) for Peace Initiative in 2008. Awarded by Society for Reliability Engineering, Quality and Operations Management (SREQOM) for Innovative Applications of Information Technology in Interdisciplinary areas in Science and Technology, December 2009.nano