- Engineering Mathematics: Composed of vector calculus, complex algebra and differential equations, along with frequency domain analysis, Fourier and Laplace Transforms, all important tools for an engineer.
- Electromagnetic Theory: Based on vector calculus, this teaches you the basics of electric and magnetic fields, electromagnetic waves and their propagation, and the applications of these, like waveguides, transmission lines, and antennae.
- Network Analysis: This consists of analysing circuits and networks by using various methods, studying various circuit topologies, studying alternating current circuits.
- Electronics: A vast subject covering: a) Device fundamentals, teaching the physics and working of common electronic components, b) Analog electronics, that teaches the design of analogue systems and components like amplifiers, oscillators and electronic wave generators, and c) Digital electronics, that teaches designing digital systems like memory devices, ICs. This field also transitions into computer architecture, hardware, and microprocessor programming and interfacing.
- Machines and Power: This heavy subject involves the basics of electrical generators, motors, transformers, power generation and transmission and the distribution of electrical energy in grids. From making power to moving things electrically, it teaches you all.
- Signals and Systems: This involves, as the name says, analysis of electrical signals and their interaction with electrical systems. You study the properties of signals and the nature of systems and use mathematics to model their responses to various kinds of signals. Signal processing is the manipulation of electrical signals and has applications in audio, video and image processing and communications.
- Control Engineering: This subject studies the mathematical techniques and physical implementations towards the goal of automation and control of the behaviour of electrical systems. It is perhaps the heart of engineering, and involves a blend of physical visualisation and mathematics.
- Communications: The generation and processing of communication signals, with focus on communication media and more efficient transmissions. Involves mathematics, and teaches you the working of everything from FM to mobile phones.
- Instrumentation: Teaches you the design of sensors and instruments to measure quantities and convert them into electrical signals. Used everywhere, from radio telescopes to particle accelerators to aircraft, because sensing comes before taking action.
Electrical engineering seeks to apply the basic laws of electrodynamics to design applications in a myriad of areas, and is a ubiquitous cornerstone of modern technology. From the primitive telegraph, to the largest particle accelerator in the world, it is the lifeblood of all of humankind’s technological thrusts, with a wide array of fields, like control systems, power, electronics, communications, signal processing and computers.
If science is the pursuit of truth, engineering is the art of moulding those truths into applicable systems. Engineering is the vehicle that carries the world into the future every day. And one of the core branches of engineering is also its most widely-applied: electrical engineering.
As aspirants for a bachelor’s degree in engineering, we are stage-actors in a play of irony. The tests that are used to judge us for admission test only minimally on actual engineering subjects. The issue is compounded by the near-total lack of awareness about what engineering truly entails. And thus begins the great façade of surviving through a rigorous engineering degree without having an iota of knowledge of its true depth, usage or avenues, and without real interest. Ergo, it is most essential to brief oneself with the inside-out of the fields we are asked to pick between.
To understand the wide applications of this field, let us look at the working of one dish of the Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope, one of the largest in the world, at Khodad in Pune. You want to observe one part of the sky, so you move the dish in one direction. Electronics in your computer convert the motion of your mouse to a signal that moves a motor under the dish, automated using control theory. The observed light, an electromagnetic wave, is converted to a signal by electronics again, and through well-designed circuits travels to the computing centre, where a system of programmed digital electronics stores it. This simple act combines multiple branches of electrical engineering, and comes through as a result of their beautiful conjunction. An undergraduate course will set you on your path to dreaming and designing such wonders.
The study of currents was a part of physics curricula earlier, but in the 1900s universities began providing degrees in electrical engineering. The courses at the IITs and BITS provide an overview of the various branches of this wide subject, readying you for research, higher education, or technical jobs. A typical set of courses offers a rigorous preparation with these thrust areas: mathematics, electromagnetic theory, network analysis, electronics, machines and power, signals and systems, communications, and instrumentation (a series of notes on each of these is given as the postscript for the interested reader).
An electrical engineering degree requires hard work due to the challenging and voluminous nature of the coursework, and is often labelled the toughest engineering branch to study. It combines visualisation, insight and mathematical rigour and trains you for a variety of applications. Apart from usual classroom pedagogy, laboratory work is vital in a complete understanding of this field, especially in machines, electronics and communications, and thus a major part of the degree, along with electronics simulations and the usage of computer applications like MATLAB and SimuLink for modelling and analysis.
The intense coursework, with focus on practical experience and engineering software, prepares one for a phalanx of future avenues, ranging from core technical jobs to research and development. Post an electrical engineering education, one can take up a job with electronics companies like Intel and Nvidia, or in the power grid sector, which is becoming a hot area, or with research and development wings of robotics or aeronautics companies. Or one can go for science applications, communications, instrumentation, signal processing, audio engineering, computer applications, hardware design and architecture. You can try to follow one branch further by exploring the endless roads to higher education in India and abroad. Or, you can hop on to the wagon of research, with a thriving community.
Core engineering jobs involve significant hands-on training in the initial years, and your employers invest in you in that regard, leading to your lower compensations than, let’s say, computer engineers. Social discourse, in India especially, might sometimes bemoan the relatively lower “packages” of core engineers, but let that never be a deterrent. With enough passion and focus, you can enjoy this deep and rich subject, and reap satisfaction too.
The art of electrical engineering is everywhere, and thus, as an artist-in-training, you have the potential to be indispensable. There is no dearth of possibilities when in fact, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN employs more engineers that physicists! So, you know your opportunities are endless. There is nowhere you can’t go!
Postscript: A Coverage of EEE Fields
Himanish Ganjoo is a graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering from BITS Pilani with a strong interest in physics. He is currently interning at the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (TIFR), Pune, having interned previously at CERN, Geneva. He dabbles in writing, singing, and cricket when he is not guzzling kebabs.
I don't remember the exact point in my past three years of life in BITS, or the two years of slogging for the entrances when I realized that Physics will be the starting point of my career path. However having delved deep enough, I am certain that it is going to be an essential part of whatever I choose to pursue as my career in future.
Before college, preparing for entrances introduces us to the topics of Newtonian Mechanics, Electrostatics, Thermodynamics and Modern Physics out of which are churned out those myriad questions involving systems of pulleys, capacitors, wedges, spheres and whatnot. But what we are offered in those two years is a cocktail of Physics and Mathematics that has been mostly developed over the last 500 years (since the time of Newton and his predecessors). Getting comfortable with all the physics being taught at the intermediate level one usually notices how even almost every engineering science ultimately traces its roots to some very fundamental Physics, and the fascination of this can be enough to spark a flame for Physics. It is imperative that one knows to what extent the jungle thickens as he ventures further into it which is the moment after his intermediate studies end and the academic life of college starts. It depends very slightly on the college or the discipline you have chosen for yourself, but most top tier colleges offer some Physics courses in the first year that are common for students from all disciplines. This is the time when you may not have even recovered from the hangover of the mechanical and objective way of looking at Physics problems as a legacy of the two years before, and you are expected to be able to solve even more rigorous situations subjectively. For some of you, the fresh new techniques of calculus that you have recently been only introduced to in Mathematics and are expected to apply in solving the physical problems as well can be a little daunting for now. But they start forming an essential part of almost every course you study in your undergraduate life. And it only helps to have formed a solid understanding of their use and application before starting off with college. For those of you going for undergraduate degrees in Physics, the scene could get a murkier in the next three or four years after the first year when you finally start with 're-learning' the concepts that you studied in +2 in a more rigorous and general way. The 'mathematics' that is involved throughout an undergraduate Physics course has a radically different genre than what we get used to at the intermediate level. Recounting my own experience from second year on wards, I took courses on Classical Mechanics, Optics, Electrodynamics, Mathematical Methods for Physics, two Quantum Mechanics courses, Statistical Mechanics, Nuclear and Particle Physics - all of which focus on the theoretical aspects of fundamental Physics, and without Advanced Calculus, it really doesn't make much sense! Other courses like Computational Physics, Atomic and Molecular Physics and Solid State Physics, and the lab courses have more to do with Applied and Experimental Physics.
The undergraduate programmes in Physics in IITs and BITS Pilani are usually designed so as to give you a very brief introduction to the major fields of research active in the present time, all the while equipping you with the necessary fundamentals skills and aptitude that'd be essential if you ever decide to take up research as a career option. But a lot of this comes with serious effort from the student's side as well. To be honest, 4 years is too short a time to have a achieved a strong grasp over each of the courses you study, when each of them last only a semester long and before you actually start getting a feel of the subject (assuming you haven't given up already!) the grades will have already been awarded. And with courses of another major also on your hand (in the case of BITS), following every course up to the brink of satisfaction can turn out to be a painstaking task. However for those of you who do manage to sustain the same enthusiasm to pursue research in Physics and related fields as a career option, working to fill up any gaps in the basic concepts and skills these courses introduce to you becomes indispensable. Regardless of the hectic coursework, the professors are always eager to help provided you seek it! The curriculum is peppered with elective courses on Astronomy, Quantum Computation, Relativity, Semiconductors etc. that can help narrow down the specific research topic that you might want to take up in future. For me, the Project type course offered as a part of my curriculum helped me learn the basics of documentation and presentation required for a generic research work. A further advantage can be from Summer schools and research internships that again serve to add to your experience and help you form a clearer picture of your specific goals. A time well spent in the summers and winters can be crucial in filling up any vacuum that you might be feeling even after spending the last semester on some topics.
There is a plethora of opportunities available to choose from once you graduate with a Physics degree. You gain a chance to be part of all those exciting projects that you have only read or heard about as of yet. There are equally interesting (but lesser known) research opportunities to take about which you only come to know about during your undergraduate studies. Many Research Institutes in India (like TIFR, IUCAA Pune, IISc Bangalore and more!) have turned up to some really exciting places to be, with the Summer Internships programs and the fellowships that they offer. Speaking for Astronomy, India is a part of some major projects like the Thirty Meter Telescope, LIGO-India and CERN, and they have ample opportunities for diligent and skilled Physicists. But for all this, the flame needs to be kept alive and rekindled all the long way.
A third year student pursuing a dual degree in M.Sc Physics and Electrical and Electronics Engineering, with interests in Astrophysics, Space Science and Space technology. Vatsal is currently a summer undergraduate research student at National Central University in Taiwan.
Find Vatsal on LinkedIn.
Want to know about BITS Pilani? Get an exclusive look inside BITS Pilani, Pilani campus with our guest blogger, Rounaq.
BITS Pilani - what's it all about?
Nested in the desertlands of Rajasthan lies this hamlet. At a first glance from the outside, you wouldn’t be able to tell that these men and women are some of the best and brightest of the country, who got here purely based on merit surpassing lakhs of others in competition. Maybe not even in the subsequent glances. Step inside the gates, and it's a whole different world.
Welcome to Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani. In 1964, the Birla Colleges of Humanities, Commerce, Engineering, Pharmacy and Science were merged to form the Birla Institute of Technology & Science. With an acceptance rate of 1.47% BITS Pilani is arguably the best private engineering college in the country.
Isolated from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan culture, this campus still retains the pristine aura of the yesteryear's, when our founders gave birth to one of the premier institutions for learning in the nation. Spread over an area of over 320 acres are some of the study centers, hostels, guest houses, shopping centers, workshops, a newly constructed underground academic block etc. And did I mention the library?
The BITS Library has been mentioned as one of India’s best libraries with a floor area of 65000 sq ft and over 2,35,250 volumes of books on almost all topics ranging from Science and Technology to Management and Humanities!
Life as a BITSian - what to expect
Let’s talk about what you as a student go through, once you gain the title of a BITSian. The first thing that every starry-eyed student who enters the campus sees is its sheer vastness. It isn’t far - well, far enough that the auto-wallas become your best friends, seeing as there is only so many times you can walk from your hostel to the market, both inside campus, without needing glucose drinks.
The campus has its own market, called C’not, where you can get almost everything you’ll need for your years on campus. And the rest is from online shopping. A number of lawns provide the ideal place to relax in an almost pollution free environment, as are the rows of trees with which the streets are lined. And the stars at night are more than you’ve ever seen, unless you live on a hillock or something.
Being a BITS student
Along with academics, the campus boasts of an extremely vibrant co-curricular culture. Clubs, as they are called, are groups of people that share a common interest and work towards bettering themselves in that particular area, and popularizing their work among other BITSians via events, functions etc.
Another such entity, known as Departments, comprise of people who are responsible for organizing our student-run sports (BITS Open Sports Meet), cultural (Oasis) and technical (Apogee) festivals. There are also various disciplinary (Mechanical, Electrical Engineering etc) and regional associations that are involved as well.
Recruitment starts early in the very first semester for each of the above, as seniors interact with every fresher and get to know them better. And when you are recruited, well, cheers to awesomeness!
One of the benefits is its 0% attendance policy. Yes, you read it right, it isn’t a typo.
What this means is that you are not obliged to attend classes. This however should not be misunderstood. Lectures and tutorial classes are important in order to gain knowledge on any subject. So are the tests that are conducted in them. Missing them all would basically amount to really bad grades.
Whether you decide to gain a skill set or waste time - it is all up to you. So, while this policy gives you the freedom to manage your time effectively, one must always use caution while exercising their freedom. With great power comes great responsibility.
Club, fests & extra-curricular activites at BITS
The Pilani campus provides Single, Dual and Higher Degree programmes across various branches, from Pure Sciences and Engineering to Pharmacy and Management.
Coming to the topic of our fests, they are:
OASIS - This is perhaps the most awaited fest of the year, comprising of participants from various colleges in DU and across the country. From live concerts, karaokes, comedy and fashion shows, to various events and cultural competitions, this fest has got it all. 96 hours of insomnia! It usually takes place towards the end of October and lasts around four days.
APOGEE - This fest takes place around March, and is also four days long. Participants from various colleges arrive with projects that are built under different categories like Design, Transportation, Safety and Health etc.
Remember the Disciplinary Associations I told you about? This is where they come in. They organise various events like RC airplane, boat and car racing and demonstrations of various cool science experiments!
BITS Open Sports Meet (BOSM) - This four day sporting extravaganza sees teams from all across the country competing for the top spot. It happens usually in mid-September, and sees stalls from various big franchises like Dominoes, Subway etc.
Entrepreneurial culture at BITS
BITS Pilani has been known for its entrepreneurial culture, with several successful startups like RedBus.in having BITSian founders or co founders. The Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) has gained nationwide recognition for organizing events like Conquest, which is BITS Pilani’s International Startup Challenge, whose mission is to invite the most innovative startups, mentor them, and help them network with potential investors.
Aside from this, several intra-BITS competitions are also organised by CEL that cater to the entrepreneurial spirit.
Hostel life at BITS
Now coming to the part which is every parent’s nightmare. Hostel and mess food.
Every fresher is randomly allotted a hostel at the time of registration by a computer algorithm. That hostel then becomes his home for the next one year. For the girls, the only hostel is Meera Bhawan, which is a cluster of different residential blocks (so more of a case of which block than which hostel).
The hostels, even though slightly old, are decently equipped with all the amenities you could ask for - ensuring the student is as comfortable as possible. Every hostel has 24x7 internet and LAN access in their rooms. DC++ is a treasure trove of all that is sweet and joyful, like movies, sitcoms, tutorials and what not. That coupled with course loads and club/department work doesn’t leave much time for boredom.
The mess food is decent, although nowhere close to the regal splendour of home-made food, but you know, it could be worse.
Two hostels, Srinivas Ramanujam Bhawan, and Sir CV Raman Bhawan have been recently constructed, and a third, Ram Bhawan, has been recently renovated. The other hostels are expected to undergo the process soon.
BITS alumni network
BITS has one of the strongest alumni networks in the country. BITSians, even from 30-40 years ago in different places across the globe are always willing to help out in whatever aspects they can, through their invaluable advice and resources.
BITSAA was invited to ring the NASDAQ opening bell recently, in 2013 and 2015, which is a rare honour bestowed only upon a handful of educational institutions like MIT and CalTech, which also showcased BITSAA as a family of world class leaders.
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Why BITS and how it will change you
Every senior, junior or batchmate you will meet here will be talented in one way or another, be it music, sports, art or simply, studying. BITSian lingo will make it hard for you to communicate with “normal” people, in a comical way. There is an ocean of talent to be gained from.
Being a part of the student run machinery will not only broaden your outlook and help you gain experience, but also help you pursue your interests, hone your skills, and discover yourself. Having no major distraction around leaves you no choice but to look inside and truly follow your heart. The friends you make here will be the best ones for the rest of your life.
And by the time you’re done with this place, you will not want to leave.
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.