An increasing number of students are expressing interest in studying aerospace engineering, as lucrative jobs are available

Even as the process for admissions to professional courses is only a step away, with the online counselling for rank holders of the Common Entrance Test (CET) set to commence soon after the ongoing document verification process, engineering institutions are waiting with crossed fingers to see if the response will be good this time. The fear stems out of the 20,000-odd vacant engineering seats that stared at colleges last year, in addition to various surveys labelling engineering graduates as not “job-ready.”

This year, along with traditionally popular engineering courses like mechanical and electronic, many students are aiming for the skies, literally. Engineering institutes are getting a lot of queries about aerospace engineering, apart from automobile engineering. Unfortunately for students, not a single college under Visvesvaraya Technological University (VTU) offers the course.

VTU Vice-Chancellor H. Maheshappa explained the reasons for the rising interest in the course. “Bangalore is the hub of aerospace activities, with several organisations including National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) being situated here,” he said.

Introducing the course

Buoyed by the increasing number of students expressing interest in studying the course, VUT is planning to introduce it in some of its constituent colleges the next academic year. Speaking about the plan, Mr. Maheshappa said, “Except for the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and a few private universities, not many colleges offer aerospace engineering. The reason why the course is gaining popularity is because applications are huge and job opportunities are lucrative.”

UBDT College of Engineering, which has now become a constituent college of VTU after it was shifted out of Davangere University, is likely to be one of the colleges in which the aerospace course will be offered, along with a college each in Karwar and Raichur.

Interestingly, aerospace engineering is being preferred over aeronautical engineering even though there are a handful of colleges that offer the aeronautical course.

The International Institute for Aerospace Engineering and Management under Jain University, Bangalore, is one of the few colleges which offers the sought-after course. Explaining the difference between the two, Krishna Venkatesh, director and chief technical officer for the Centre for Engineering Technologies, Jain University, said: “The aeronautical course primarily deals with aircraft, while aerospace engineering deals with both space technology and aircraft.”

Mr. Venkatesh said that in the bachelor’s course, the first year is along similar lines for all fields and the second year will see students studying concepts in mechanical and electronics. It is in the third year that specialisation takes place in aerodynamics, proportions, ergonomics and engine technology, among others. The three-year-old course admits 40-50 students each year, while the postgraduate course has about 50 students in both years.

Expensive programme

“Only around 40 institutions in India offer the course. It is an expensive programme and requires high-end laboratory facilities. A minimum of 12 years is required to start getting returns from the programme,” he said, when asked why institutions offering aerospace engineering are far and few.

Job opportunities are many, said Mr. Venkatesh, with several top industry names from India and abroad vying to hire the graduates. The likes of ADE hire through the DRDO recruitments, he added.

It is not just colleges that are waking up to the aero dream. Dilip Chenoy, CEO of the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), said his organisation had recently been approached to start a sector skill council in aerospace.

Marine engineering

Meanwhile, it is not just the skies that aspiring engineers can aim for now. VTU is also starting a marine engineering course this year, catering to the huge demand that the Navy, among others, has. The Mangalore Marine Engineering College will offer the course this year, along with mechanical, civil, computer science, etc.