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Driven to success

education Updated: Jun 12, 2012 18:06 IST

The lowdown
An automobile designer/engineer works in the vehicle manufacturing industry. Engineers hired by reputed auto companies go through a year’s training in which they are taught everything about designing a vehicle. While the biggest percentage of automobile engineers still have a background in mechanical engineering, the growing trend of using electronic components in the manufacturing process is likely to lead to an increased demand for electronics engineers as well. Since there are various engineering principles involved in the art of building a four-wheeler, there is really no one entity called “an automobile engineer”. Though a few institutes in the country offer BE/BTech courses in automobile engineering, most of the engineers hired by top carmakers in India tend to be mechanical engineers. Electrical and electronics engineers and metallurgists are the others who contribute significantly to the auto industry. Designing or engineering a car also involves specialisation in material treatment, electronics (for control units), designing (CAD), logistics, supply management etc

An average day’s work routine varies greatly, depending on where an engineer is working - assembly line, design, administration or any other area. A team leader’s (at the assembly line) day could go like this:
9am: Reach the plant, survey the day’s production plan and get to the plant floor
11am: Review the ongoing work
1pm: Lunch break
2pm: Back to the plant floor
4pm: Quality review
4pm: File the quality report
6pm: Leave for home

The payoff
A graduate engineer at a major OEM (original equipment manufacturer, ie carmaker) gets a stipend of Rs. 28,000 to Rs. 30,000 a month during training. This can go up to Rs. 40,000 till s/he is confirmed. A line leader/assistant manager can earn anything from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 80,000 a month, depending on their experience in the industry. A division head with 18 years’ experience can make anything from Rs. 25 lakh to Rs. 30 lakh per annum

* A passion for cars
* Aptitude for mathematics
* Fast learning curve
* Good design skills
* Automotive engineers should have a keen interest in mechanics, cars, mathematics and electronics
* Must be well-organised and methodical in working habits
* Automotive engineers must be able to communicate ideas and give orders in a clear, concise fashion

Getting there
After completing Class 12 from the science stream, a student interested in automobile engineering can opt for a BE or BTech in automobile engineering. Though a few institutes in the country do offer BE/BTech courses in automobile engineering, the biggest bulk of the engineers hired by top carmakers in India tend to be mechanical engineers. Electrical and electronics engineers and metallurgists are the others who contribute significantly to the vehicle industry. To hire engineers, companies in India usually prefer a first look at the IITs and the NITs (National Institutes of Technology). The Madras Institute of Technology in Chennai stands out among the many institutes in the south. A number of smaller institutions offer BE/BTech degrees in automobile engineering as well. An aspirant needs to use some filters to decide which one to go for. A student should look up the institute website and see if it has the required information about the course and admission criteria. Does it list the faculty members and their qualifications? Does the college have publications, projects, collaborative projects, funding from the government? Cross-check the reputation of college, find out how the alumni are doing. Do some research applying for admission

Institutes and URLs
* Indian Institutes of Technology and National Institutes of Technology (all across the coutry various websites)
* Jadavpur University, Kolkata
* Madras Institute of Technology
* MITS Gwalior

Pros and cons
* Vast international exposure
* Great pay package
* Constant improvement expected
* Automotive engineers can advance to supervisory and senior management positions within their companies
* Recession impact on overseas job prospects
* Scope for car designers limited in India

It’s one of the most promising careers today. India is emerging as a major hub of the global automobile industry – which means more career opportunities in this sector B D Pathak, dean academics, hoD Mechanical, Delhi Technological University