Wed, 6 Jul 2022

Engineering - more on the go

Posted on Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Think about a career as an engineer and the options that come to your mind the conventional ones like civil, electrical, mechanical and computers. But engineering has moved beyond this, and today there are some new options to choose from. Mousumi Halder Ghosh explores

Engineering optionsThink of all the technology that really makes a difference to our lives- mobile phones that have seamlessly made distances faint into oblivion, computers that store gigabytes of data in chips which are measured in millimeters, remotes that control the air conditioner back home when you still driving and are about five kilometers away! These are sure miracles that are product of the tireless efforts of a group of individuals who refer to themselves as ‘engineers’.
Engineering surely is a fascinating field and attracts thousands of students towards it! If you belonged to the school of thought that believed that computer engineering is the best thing that has happened for students, think again! Today, engineering is reinventing itself and many new streams are making their way out and attracting talent.
Here’s a list of some that are worth a mention:
Molecular Engineering

What is it?
Eric Drexler (American engineer best known for popularising the potential of molecular nanotechnology)
defines molecular engineering or nanotechnology as “control of the structure of matter at the molecular level, however achieved”.

Molecular engineering is an important part of pharmaceutical research and materials science. It may be used to create, on an extremely small scale, most typically one at a time, new molecules which may not exist in nature, or be stable beyond a very narrow range of conditions.

Molecular engineering is sometimes called generically "nanotechnology" (Nanotechnology is a field of applied science focused on the design, synthesis, characterisation and application of materials and devices on the nanoscale, i.e a size scale below 100 nm).

Molecular engineering helps in developing techniques that allow us to create and develop a whole range of materials and structures, which will have a huge range of applications ranging from medical products, pharmaceutical drugs, new materials, nano robots, molecular machines, 3-D intelligent structures, novel electronics devices, etc.

IIT Bombay is one of the leading institutions in the country for research in the area of Nanotechnology. IIT Bombay has recently consolidated its nanotechnology research activities through the formation of a Centre for Research in Nanotechnology & Science (CRNTS). For more information, log on to:
Control Systems Engineering
What is it?
Control systems engineeringinvolves the design and manufacture of instrumentation and ways to control dynamic processes automatically. Such engineers draw on a variety of disciplines, including elements of electrical, mechanical, and chemical, and focus on the technologies needed for feedback and feedforward control of dynamic systems. These engineers ensure safe and efficient system performance.
Control engineering has a wide range of applications from the flight and propulsion systems of commercial airliners to the cruise control present in many modern automobiles.
The Master of Science in Control Systems Engineering is a free standing degree program offered by the College of Engineering Architecture and Technology, Oklahoma. Also visit
In India, the electronic engineering department of Jadavpur University, India offers a two-year master degree programme in Control Systems Engineering. For more information, log onto:
Department of Electrical Engineering Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University) has a research wing that deals with Control Systems. For more information log on to:
Geotechnical Engineering

What is it?
Geotechnical engineers basically deal with the investigation of the soil and bedrock on and below a site to determine their engineering properties and how they will interact with, on or in a proposed construction. The geotechnical engineer then goes ahead to determine the designs and the type of foundations, earthworks, and pavements required for the intended man-made structures to be built.

Geotechnical engineers also assess the risk to humans, property and the environment from natural hazards. Their field of application is huge and expansive.
A structural or geotechnical engineer (or both) has had a hand in virtually every structure that you see in our urban environment. These engineers continue to be involved as these structures require modifications, expansions or rehabilitation.

The Department of Civil Engineering, IIT Madras has a geotechnical engineering division, which offers a number of theory and laboratory courses covering the diverse areas of Geotechnical Engineering. For more information log on to. IIT Kanpur also offers some courses in the discipline.

Biochemical Engineering
What is it?
Biochemical engineering mainly deals with the design and construction of unit processes that involve biological organisms or molecules. Biochemical engineering is often taught as a supplementary option to chemical engineering due to the similarities in both the background subject curriculum and problem-solving techniques used by both professions.
Its applications are used in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and water treatment industries.
Dual Degree Programme [Btech and MTech] is offered by IIT Delhi (Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology).
Subsurface Imaging
What is it?
Subsurface imagingis a new discipline encompassing optical, x-ray, electromagnetic, electrical, and ultrasonic methods for imaging objects that are hidden under water, underground, under tissue, or below man-made objects such as layers of fabricated material. Despite the broad medical, biological, geophysical, environmental, and industrial applications, and the wide range of technologies involved, the underlying fundamental principles and methodologies are rather similar and are taught as a single unified discipline.
It can be used with good results on airport, railroad, transit, building construction and any other public works projects where underground utilities may be encountered during excavation activities. It also applies to water and wastewater treatment plants, processing plants, nuclear and other power facilities, and military bases. In addition, it can be used for environmental purposes, such as detecting and mapping underground storage tanks, septic fields, and even contaminants (utility trenches provide preferential migration paths for contaminants).

The Center for Subsurface Sensing and Imaging Systems(CenSSIS), Boston, USA
 - an Engineering Research Center (ERC) offers a pioneering course in this. The new course has been developed in various forms at the four universities that make the CenSSIS academic partnership - Boston UniversityNortheastern UniversityUniversity of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is being inculcated into their engineering syllabus.

(All institute listings are indicative)


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