Friday, April 12, 2024

Turn Into Electronics Hobbyists To Redefine Indian Engineering

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It is a well-known fact that electronics engineering has today become one of the most sought-after and vital engineering streams across all Indian states. Now, with demand by students to get into core electronics jobs being at an all-time high, it is worth noting that it is only a reduced number of students who manage to grab the core electronic opportunities.

Reasons for this trend, as analyses by experts, is very less exposure to physically building stuff to solve societal issues. In summary, working knowledge among recent engineering graduates is found to be at an all-time low as per multiple surveys under taken by domain experts and career counselors.

“Today, fresh electronics engineers despite securing high percentiles are tending to build careers in other areas including Information Technology enabled services (ITes), manufacturing, and totally at non-engineering sectors,” states Dr Radhakrishnan – Bengaluru-based career counsellor who has been working closely with engineering students across streams over the last two decades.

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Dr Radhakrishnan also quotes an independent survey he undertook (with help from friends) according to which, the respondents (fresh electronics engineers) were ready to take up  jobs in the business processing outsourcing (BPO) sectors due to having faced rejection from top companies. Reasons for rejection included less practical exposure and inability to build working models.

Getting straight to the point – the solution for better employability

Dr Radhakrishnan is a firm believer of the philosophy of ‘practice makes a man perfect’. He states that when it comes to electronics engineering, students should cultivate electronics as a hobby so that they are better exposed to the domain and can learn the strategies required to develop working models.

According to Dr Radhakrishnan, taking up electronics as a hobby gives an edge when they graduate and start looking out for work opportunities. This mindset also accords an edge when campus placements are in full swing.

“It is vital that students take up electronics as a hobby, as it is interesting as well,” adds Shankar Ganesh a Bengaluru-based electronics engineer who also doubles up as a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) coach. Shankar stresses the fact that students should physically build products using some of their academic knowledge along with a lot of knowledge that they have acquired outside their textbooks.

Building electronics products leads to better ideas and learning

A major plus of cultivating electronics as a hobby, along with effective learning, is the fact that employability of engineers has also been found to increase when they graduate and apply to jobs. Electronics hobbyists even state that with skills like embedded systems, it also becomes easy to innovate newer startup ideas and thereby begin the process of incubation.

With technology startups mushrooming more than ever in India, especially in geographies such as Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi, and more cities, having electronics as a hobby surely adds to the budding entrepreneurship community.

“Indulging in Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects is the best practice since this leads to a formulation of potential startup ideas which directly translates to increased employment opportunities,” advises Chethan Krishna who likes to call himself an Electronics Hobbyist. Chethan is currently in the process of finalising things for his new embedded startup venture that is incubated at the Indian Institute of Management in Bengaluru (IIMB).

Land more core industry jobs

Electronics hobbyists are also of the opinion that with a passion for the subject and active working knowledge, it should not be difficult to land those ‘in-demand’ core electronics jobs that are the drivers of modern electronic trends.

“If students or fresh engineers have a good DIY track record, then there is no stopping the community from acquiring the core industry jobs that are now showing signs of reaching stagnancy due to non-employability of fresh graduates,” adds Chethan.

“Electronics hobbyists also stand a greater chance of acquiring the core jobs as recruiters are generally impressed with working models (if and when presented during interviews) and view these candidates as better-fits for jobs in comparison to those with only pure academic knowledge,” feels Satish Babu who is principal at a Karnataka engineering college.

“Final year engineering students are greatly benefited with the above approach during their campus interviews as this is the stage that exposes prospective engineers to core industry jobs,” adds Satish.

Domain experts believe that by cultivating electronics concepts, students should easily be able to design Arduino projects and program these using R, Python (and more) to effectively solve simple issues. These are also often part of the engineering academic curriculum that encourages students to develop mini-projects (pre-final year) and hands-on live projects (final-year).

“Effective designing skills along with programming skills using modern languages come only with practice, therefore it is vital that students cultivate these from the moment they decide to pursue engineering studies,” recommends Chethan.

Domain experts also believe that with today’s cut-throat competition, everybody is armed with engineering degrees; but the elite status is conferred to only few who have taken up their academic specialisation as a hobby. This approach holds true for all branches of engineering.

Redefine engineering

With ‘hobbyism’ involving a lot of experimentation and innovation, there is ample scope for students (and fresh engineers) to even change the way in which engineering is viewed in India. It is important to understand that rather than seeing electronics as yet another degree-getter and a passport to land fancy jobs in multi-national corporations (MNC), improvement and improvisation should be the key focus.

“Mugging up electronics concepts and clearing exams is always there, but the approach of applying thought to make real-world objects smarter should be the focus for engineers. This is where electronic as a hobby enables a potentially better society that is technologically forward,” adds Dr Radhakrishnan.

At this juncture, it is vital to understand that the ultimate aim of engineering is to make society a better place to live in; with hobbyists taking to improvising the current system, the modern perception of engineering again turns traditional thereby leading to redefinition.

Effective electronics hobbies to cultivate

As far as specific areas are concerned, experts believe that students can start-off by teaching themselves embedded systems.

“Embedded is today an indispensable part of electronics engineering. Smartness is brought about, with effective deployment of embedded systems. Therefore, students can master embedded systems and start off by developing small working models to complement the Internet-of-Things (IoT),” states Prashanth who is co-founder of Bengaluru-based Fedo; a healthtech startup.

Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is also an area that has maximum potential real-world impact. Hence, this skillset can be cultivated as a hobby to build working prototypes to be later converted as actual physical systems.

Building a miniature FM/AM Radio is also a DIY project that is highly sought-after by electronics engineering students in their quest to develop innovative radio models.

With the internet buzzing with lot of hobbyists communities, students can easily interact with members to get a know-how on project ideas.

“Electronics hobbyists are on the decline nowadays. Therefore, it only adds value and does a world of good to the current generation student community to restart the trend and make our Indian society a technically-driven model society,” signs-off Dr Radhakrishnan.

Electronics as a hobby – in a nutshell; key learnings

Electronic as a hobby is fading away
Students are better-placed to land core jobs, by turning into electronics hobbyists
Electronics as a hobby adds value to education
Fresh engineers become more employable
Smart working models for societal issues can be developed
Embedded systems is the perfect resource to work-on and develop models thus turning into electronics hobbyists

Contributors to the story

Dr Radhakrishnan HK a Bengaluru-based career counsellor possessing more than two decades of experience in guiding engineering students
Shankar Ganesh Bengaluru-based electronics engineer who also doubles up as a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) coach
Chethan Krishna Electronics Hobbyist
Satish Babu Electronics Hobbyist and Principal at an engineering college in Karnataka
Prashanth Co-Founder of Fedo – HealthTech startup

Written by Rahul R, Senior Technical Journalist at EFY



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