B.E (Hons.) Mechanical Engineering
BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus
What do Chatur Ramalingam, Cisco Ramone, Tony Stark and Elon Musk have in common? Aside from the fact that they work in super awesome places, of course. They’re Mechanical Engineers. Before we get into the mumbo jumbo of post entrance exam stream choosing, take a minute. Ever seen a machine? ANY machine? And wondered about its beauty and working? The answer to the thoughts you had while trying to satisfy that intrinsic curiosity, penned down, is called Mechanical Engineering. From that cradle you rocked in as a kid, to the rocket you might end up designing and sending into space, or the robot you build that’ll wipe humans out(please, no), the world works on the principles of Mechanical Engineering.
There is one question that I have come across very frequently, as a Mechanical Engineering student, and in general as well. “Should girls take up Mechanical Engineering? Its not for them, right? Too much physical labour, no?” The answer to that is a big “YES. THEY SHOULD TAKE UP MECHANICAL ENGINEERING IF THEY’RE INTERESTED IN IT.” As I said earlier, it isn’t some grease covered guy(or girl, in this case), underneath a truck. There are various profiles, like design and analysis, research and development, application etc. Not everyone goes into fieldwork, especially if they don’t wish to. Hence, if a girl finds this branch of engineering interests her, there is absolutely nothing to stop her from becoming one of the best in the world, and it will hardly involve the kind of work you’re worried she might have to do.
And PLEASE, wipe that image of some grease-covered guy trying to fix some truck with a giant wrench from your head. Those are mechanics. WE don’t do that, at least not directly.
Delving into the slightly technical side, let me describe some of the courses that are taken up in BITS, for example. Our core disciplinary courses(CDCs) begin with advanced versions of the Mechanics you studied while preparing for your entrance examinations. In the subsequent semesters, courses include Machine Design and Drawing, CAD, Production Techniques, Kinetics and Dynamics of Machines, Mechanical Vibrations and Oscillations, IC Engines, to name a few. While the titles may vary, the content essentially remains the same throughout various institutes. The courses are an amalgamation of the Math and theory you need in order to quantify phenomena into more than just “intuition”, and then be able to predict the nature of the unknown, like the time a machine can run before it wears out, for example. These courses are designed and delivered by each Professor keeping in mind the current research and developments in the subject coupled with the tried and tested concepts that are the very basis of the subject. A good grasp of these courses is what defines your knowledge of Mechanical Engineering. Aside from the CDCs, we get the option to choose whatever related courses we might wish to pursue, as electives. So you can go ahead and dive into Robotics, Image Processing, Automotive Vehicles, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Numerical Fluid Flow and Heat Transfer, and basically whatever else gets your heart racing. And hands-on experience in labs, wherever possible, makes it a joy!
That gets us to the related topic of jobs. Depending on the institute you are in, various companies arrive on-campus to recruit fresh graduates into their companies. Depending on your resume, CGPA(cut-off varies for each company), electives completed, internships, activities etc. these companies shortlist candidates for various profiles, some of which I described above. After rounds of written tests, Group Discussions, Group Activities, Personal Interviews(all of these varying from company to company), the companies then offer jobs to the selected candidates. Some of the Core companies that Mechanical Engineers typically aspire for are BMW, Honda Motors, Airbus, Schlumberger, Cairn etc. There is also an option of not sitting for on-campus placements and sitting for off-campus options. There, you’re pretty much on your own, regarding what companies to sit for.
Still reading? Good. Now that you have a somewhat clear picture of what it is, let us take a look at some things to satisfy your parents. Academic and job prospects. This branch of engineering is possibly the most vast there is, panning almost everything from automobiles, to aviation, nuclear science, rocket science, equipment design, petroleum refining, thermonuclear astrophysics(get the reference?) etc. In some form or another, you’ll need a Mechanical Engineer there. Which goes to show that if your heart goes to any such field, whether you lean towards research or practical work, you have more options than you could possibly wish for. It is fair to wonder, though, about how you’ll know what you’re interested in. After all, all that glitters isn’t gold, right? Well, starting from an undergraduate level, there are a lot of national and international events, competitions, internships etc. that take place all over the country, and sometimes outside, which are focused on either hardcore Mechanical Engineering or a mix of various branches. These events give you an excellent opportunity to interact with the best and brightest minds around and also broaden your horizons by networking with mentors, teachers etc. In short, it is paradise if you want it to be so. And at the end of it, having gained some knowledge, or building something with your own hands, gives you immense satisfaction.
If you’re a fan of supercars, space missions, airplanes, or basically any of the stuff the Discovery Channel airs with Mega- suffixed on the title, you’ve already stepped into our world. Mechanical Engineering gives you the platform from which to see the world from the eyes of the people who created everything around you, to experience the wonder of being able to build whatever is humanly possible, and to make the world a better place. I’ve always loved it, and have had the good fortune to be a part of several projects in this field, working with some of the best minds around the country. I can tell you this much, if you have the slightest interest in how the world around you works, why things happen in one way and not the opposite, why you can’t just go ahead and saw cars in half with one punch, or why Leonardo Da Vinci was super awesome, Mechanical Engineering might just be the way to go. Go ahead, explore.
Rounaq Dhar is a Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate student at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani Campus. He has worked on various projects in industries like Automobile, Cement and Oil. When he isn’t sleeping, he can be found reading, composing and playing music, composing poetry, playing football or tinkering with machines. Being a Kashmiri and foodie, he has high standards of non-vegetarian cuisine. And he can speak five languages. He has been active in a lot of activities on campus, and has an internship with Schlumberger this summer. You can follow him at @raw_knuck.
B.E (Hons.) Mechanical Engineering
BITS Pilani, Pilani Campus