Sunday, March 8, 2015

Engineering - just a degree?

(Note: This was the first draft of my speech for a public speaking module in college. Those who didnt hear it, read it. Those who heard it, well, read to see what points I missed AND what I slyly added :-p)

Last year when I decided to quit my job in IT and pursue journalism, everybody thought I was not only crazy, but also extremely stupid for “ wasting” my engineering degree. My first question – how can education go to waste? Before my brain could get into a philosophical rant of its own, another, more pertinent question popped up – could “engineering” actually go to waste? And ( yes, a third crops up now) is there really no connection between engineering and journalism?
Let’s see what engineering is all about:

1. Contrary to what the people think, engineering is a very creative course. To challenge our creativity and push ourselves out of the box, our tutors set us 20 mark questions based on one line of related information in the book. How we manage to present that one line into atleast 200 - 300 words without repeating the points, while the invigilator breathes down our neck is mentally challenging. It also promotes the “think on your feet" concept.
Yep..that's how it's done!
(Courtesy: Google Images)


2. Engineering – especially electrical engineering- is five basic subjects, the levels of which increase with every semester. Each of these subjects is based on the subjects we studied in the 12th grade. Long story short, there is a lot of repetition involved. And, as we have seen, people get bored of repetition. So you find your real passion then or develop it - Alfred Hitchcock gave us psychological thrillers ( no doubt traumatised by engineering :-p), Herbert Hoover went on to become the President, Cindy Crawford became a supermodel, and Sushant SIngh Rajput started acting.

One of the many geniuses. Love this guy though!
(Courtesy: Google Images)

3. We are the laziest bunch of people. So if we feel a table would take less effort than a paragraph, we will make it. This gives a wrong impression that we are very meticulous, but works in our favour occasionally during exams. Plus, we don’t like to work hard – we work smart. For example, hetan Bhagat wanted to write a book, and what did he write about ? Engineering. I had to give a speech and what did I give one about? You know *wink wink*!

The deck says it all!
(Courtesy: Google Images)

4. One very important binding factor between engineering and journalism – writing speed. Copying assignments a few hours before submission in places like the college bus, or cramped under the desk away from the professor’s prying eyes makes us develop not only a good writing speed but also our very shorthand.
True dat ;-)
(Courtesy: Google Images)


5. Engineering not only teaches you how to make a radio, but also how to handle failure. Till the 12th grade, failing in a subject was a big deal. By the time you are in the third year of engineering, failing becomes routine. Where on one hand we have our friends from the commerce stream who get dejected when their grade slips from an A to a B+, for us engineers, B+ entails a celebration. Plus, phrases like " Ummeed pe duniya kaayam hai" and “Next time I will pass in all subjects”  become our mottos in life. We live off optimism, along with cigarettes and patiala pegs.
Stages of our optimism
(Courtesy: Google Images)

6. While we are talking about failures, can love stay far behind? Of course not. Due to the skewed sex ratio in engineering colleges ( my class had about 12 girls to 40 guys), the list of single girls was practically circulated around. Kudos to all my friends who balanced rejection and university exams with poise. Also, relationships in engineering colleges have weird reasons for fizzling out – a few I heard went from “ we weren’t compatible with each other” to “ He gets better grades than me”. Despite these struggles, quite a lot of couples made it – in fact a lot are married today.

(Courtesy: Google Images)


7.The word "jugaad" was probably coined for engineers. From the lab assistant in the machine and computer labs, to the cycle boy who delivers samosa, we have jugaad, or what can be crudely translated as sources, everywhere. This jugaad is what helps most of us pass our university exams, get insane amounts of free alcohol, get last years’ notes and also get jobs! So whenever in life we face a difficult situation, the first thing that comes to our mind is - do we have any jugaad? And nine times of ten, we do.

In the interest of non Hindi speakers
(Courtesy: Google Images)

8. Planning. It takes immense planning to decide what to skip and what to study, especially when you start studyinga night before the exam. The night before the exam is a big deal –it’s like preparing for a battle. Books which have never seen the day of light suddenly pop out of the cupboard and you cram every word of the book and give the exam half groggy. A year of practice and you manage to give any exam sleepless and pass in it. Passing for us engineers is more important.

In times of crisis, draw a flowchart!
(Courtesy: Google Images)


Creativity, planning, handling rejection, discovering your passion, and jugaad are just a few things engineering teaches us, other than how to draw a circuit, or how to develop a robot. Engineering is like an entire life crammed into four years. No matter what you do, once an engineer, you will always be an engineer, not because you have the degree, but because you have the skills that will last you a lifetime. Still think it’s a “waste”?

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