Course popular in TN but less so elsewhere; experts say it offers unlimited scope for jobs

There are two things every student at the Anna University campus, waiting for her admission these days, is sure of. First, she wants to be in a college that attracts good placements and second, she wants the Electronics and Communication Engineering (ECE) course.

Three days after engineering counselling began on Sunday, of the 4,948 students allotted seats, nearly 1, 226 have opted for ECE. Mechanical engineering, with 892 seats, came second and computer science with around 724 takers was third.

This preference for ECE is not unusual in the State. Over the last three years, ECE has dominated student choices here. In other parts of the country however, the scenario is not quite the same. Mechanical engineering is more or less the first preference in Mumbai, Pune, while students still opt for computer science and allied engineering courses in New Delhi. ECE – sometimes offered as a subset of electrical engineering and many a time, combined with the study of telecom networks – is definitely a popular choice, but does not seem to attract the kind of numbers as it does in Tamil Nadu.

“The origin of this ECE affiliation is not known. Very few students actually know why they opt for a specific branch. Many times, it is because consultants recommend these courses or families pressure students to opt for them,” says V. Rhymend Uthariaraj, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions.

P. Murali, who got through the ECE course at Anna University, is unsure if he is really interested in the course. But he wants to pursue it, because it will help him later pursue marine physics, a subject he is interested in.

Many others are even more perplexed. “My sister did the same course. She has a job with a multi-national corporation now,” says R. Pramila, another ECE aspirant. Tell her that an IT or a computer science degree would get her the same job, and she says, “I have a higher cut-off and the teachers are also good in the ECE department, my sister said.” The fact that students in ECE are permitted to appear for campus placements of both core and IT jobs, is a contributing factor to the course’s popularity, say experts.

Former Anna University Vice Chancellor E. Balagurusamy attributes the situation to computer science losing its sheen. “Every graduate can become a programmer but ECE offers an unlimited scope to work in areas including IT, mobile networks and instrumentation. This flexibility is what attracts them,” he said.

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