8 Lessons You Learn In Engineering

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Earning an engineering degree has its own pride of place, but the route to that degree is seldom smooth. Soham Bhaumik shares his acquired wisdom on what it takes to be an engineer.

When you’re a kid, you want to be a barber, a gardener, an astronaut or some other wacky profession (I wanted to be a pirate). But if you’re an Indian kid with a seemingly higher level of intellect, there is invariably one road that seems to promise to take you to wonderland. So you become an engineer.
At the end of a four-year battle to win a BE or BTech degree, you’re a war veteran, and each of your scars has a story to tell. If you’re an engineer, you’ll soon learn that the glass that was ‘half full’ to the pessimist is just a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be.

Lesson 1
To be or not to be, that is NOT the question
You know it’s an engineering college if on day 1 you receive threatening stares from a ‘senior’. Once the principal is done congratulating you on making it to the college and invariably promising you a safe and ragging-free pursuit of excellence, the ‘seniors’ give you the follow-up welcome speech. “Only formals, no fancy hair, no soul patch”, and of course, their pending college assignments come before your own. Obviously, they can be rude to you and whack you around. Ask any IIT guy what GPL is and you will be enriched.
With stringent anti-ragging laws in place now, you can simply be the non-obeying junior and avoid being ragged. But if you choose otherwise, you will bond better with your seniors. Therefore, a better four years.
P.S.: If you’re a girl, this is of little relevance. You will have it easier.

Lesson 2
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel
Give your engineer-ego a break! Somebody already gave you Lego blocks, right? Why not build yourself a fancy building with it instead of looking to build even more complicated building blocks?

Lesson 3
“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities”
I don’t endorse cheating, no. But if you can scan a soft drink bottle’s wrapper and then take a print out of it on glossy paper, just replacing the contents of the cola with contents that should’ve been in your head, I HAVE to consider it!
You need to think on your feet all the time. Whatever the situation – be it assignments or graphics sheets – you will and should always come up with an answer. Simply the biggest lesson you can take away.


Lessons 4, 5 & 6
Work, work and work some more; but work smart
Internships: Engineers turn out to be the coolest people. Even after scoring disastrous marks, I can configure networks, block them, do something fancy with Facebook pages and even create web pages. How did I learn? I interned. Stuff you learn in college will barely resemble industry work. If you want to learn, you need to intern. Hunt down the places where you think you’ll learn the most and just apply.
Writing papers: Your presentation of ideas will be judged, so do it well. Read as many journals as you can. If your college doesn’t provide you with any, there’s always the Internet, where you can access the IEEE website.
Remember to aim high. And in doing so, hit the nail on its head.

Lesson 7
Extra-curriculars? Do them
You will be trained to filter unwanted speech from your head to allow yourself a power nap in class, and your cartoon drawing skills will attain unimaginable heights. Even then, try and be a part of any event that goes on. If you’re not skilled enough to be the rock musician in a fest, at least sing-along. If you don’t think that this is going to help, check out Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean’s educational profile (hint: he has an MSc in electrical engineering).

Lesson 8
And then life’s like that
If you’re a guy and watch a bit of Bollywood now and then, you’re sure to have thought about singing in a concert to woo the best looking girl in college.
Reality check: you need to sing on the streets first to get some girls to step into your college. If that backfires, I guess you have to fall back on the ones that are in your college. I am a feminist, by the way.




A person who hopes he can build iron suits and fly like Ironman, but is actually the person whose advice is sought any time any problem remotely related to household repairs and maths crops up. So long, Tony Stark.

If you’re a guy, practicals are spent staring at girls poring over complicated equipment, doing your experiment or theirs and destroying a fair bit of them, and then copying their results.

Apparent gibberish with fancy names like C, Java, etc. It’s something you can’t communicate in. Only your computer understands you, which explains many a relationship between an engineer and his/her computer.

An engineer’s solution to unfinished assignments. As I said, always build on whatever is already there (the Internet).



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