This is an article I wrote in my college magazine a few months back... And thought I'd put it up here as well ;)
For those of you who are apprehensive, who think this is going to be an other article that rubbishes our course, and talks of how useless the subjects we study are, can allay your fears. This article does exactly the opposite - how great engineers are groomed in an engineering college - or to be more specific, our grand alma mater, GEC Thrissur!
Now please understand, when I say 'Engineer', I don't allude to someone who knows a hundred equations by rote, a thousand circuit diagrams inside-out, or a zillion experimental theories like the proverbial back of his hand. For that is not what makes an engineer. Yes, anyone can become a university topper by locking himself in a room with stacks of references, cutting himself off from all civilization (my apologies to actual toppers... I tend to exaggerate at times!).
Being an engineer is not about knowing the derivation of the Darcy-Weischbach relation, the corollaries of all of Kirschoff's laws, or the reaction conditions of the Perry-Wilkinson synthesis. Really now, once you're in an actual industry, do you think your boss would actually allow you to rely on your memory? Imagine - in your calculations, if you used density where you needed to use pressure drop, your faux pas may run the industry to bankruptcy!
This is why, 'memorizing', the common tactic we adopt to steer clear of supplementary examinations, won't help you become a good engineer. However... In our stormy GEC lives... Four years of chaos, struggle and doing nothing at all, we learn a lot of other skills. Subliminally, these skills are imbibed into most of us... Here are a few...
1. Planning and deadline-meeting: If we really want India to develop,p we should get rid of all politicians, kill all bureaucrats, and put engineers in their place. Tell them to get things done in two months or they will face demotion. In the first month nothing will happen. In the next two weeks, there will be minor activity among the junior members. In the suceeding two weeks, though, there will be frenetic activity to meet the deadline. Sounds familiar, all this? Rewind to what happens a month before the University exams. Engineers are like the best bikes: We can go from 0 to 60 in almost no time!
[Another analogy would be the time period of 09:25 to 09:30 in MH bathrooms]
2. Diplomatic Skills: Many a time, business deals and bilateral talks fail because of the inefficacy of managers and diplomats. Engineers make excellent diplomates. Need proof? Watch what happens in any class in which an internal exam is declared upon the poor souls. Hectic lobbying and discussions with the concerned teacher ensue, only to get the exam postponed! Kashmir would have been solved in two weeks!
3. Endurance: Engineers have an infinite suppli... Oops :P ... Supply of patience. This skill arises from the practice of four years, pretending to nod your head in lectures.
4. Strategists: Engineering students are among the best planners that I have ever seen. This is not becasue we studt graphics - which has plans and elevations. For example, there are a few people who utilize a system I like to call the Cut-O-Meter, wherein he/she tabulates how many hours he has cut, and how many more he can afford to do so without compromising the 75% barrier. Such planning would do the Harappan Municipal Corporation proud.
Continued in part 2!