When in doubt, just ASK

Choosing the right engineering college and course can be an arduous task. To narrow down your choices, use Aptitude, Scope, and Knowledge as your yardsticks.

In Tamil Nadu alone, there are more than 500 engineering colleges functioning under the auspices of Anna University. IIT Madras, NIT Trichy, NIITs and the deemed-to-be universities make up about 25 engineering institutions. The colleges under Anna University comprise university departments, university colleges, government colleges and government aided and unaided private colleges. A good number of them are autonomous, and many have been accredited differently by the National Assessment and accreditation Council (NAAC).

At the UG engineering level, there are B.E./ B.Technology programmes, with branches that are Self Supporting (SS), sandwich courses (five years), NBA (National Board of Accreditation)-accredited and Tamil medium classifications. From aeronautical engineering to textile technology, there are around 30 basic branches with further specialisations.

Now, imagine these numbers nationally — the options are mind-boggling.

Many aspiring students and parents may find it difficult to comprehend these details and decide on the branches and colleges best suited for them.

Here are some ways to help you come out of the quagmire of information to somewhat clearer waters.


If you ASK how to choose branches, you have already answered your question. The answer is in ‘ASK’: Aptitude, Scope, and Knowledge.

First, ask yourself in which area your aptitude and your interests, lie. If you are not yet aware of it, take the help of psychometric tests designed by specialists for this purpose, listen to seasoned guides, teachers and parents, but never yield to pressure from any.

After selecting the group/groups as per your aptitude, you can narrow down to suitable branch/branches within them more easily. Call the set of branches so selected as Set A.

Next, you consider the scope of the branches you are interested in, from the points of potential for job/higher studies both in and outside the country, pay package, job satisfaction and so on. Group them under Set B. There could be common items in A and B.

Third, examine for which branches you possess the required knowledge or qualifications. For example, those who are weak in math may not fit well in electrical engineering; an average mark of 50% in class XII is mandatory for choosing architecture; marine and mining engineering lay extra eligibility constraints. The branches so selected can be labelled as Set C.

The branches commonly found in all the three sets are the best choices. If no such a branch is found, select those which are found in two of the sets.

To avoid getting confused with all the 60 or more branches at a time, you may note that all these branches can be classified into seven groups: under the heads (in alphabetical order): Biotechnology, Chemical Engineering/Technology, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronics Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

A complete list of the classified branches is as follows:

Biotechnology: Biotechnology, industrial biotechnology, biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, and biomedical instrumentation.

Chemical Engineering/Technology: Chemical engineering/technology, polymer technology, plastic/rubber technology, chemical/ electrochemical engineering, petroleum engineering, petrochemical engineering, ceramic engineering, textile technology, fashion technology, textile chemistry, carpet and textile technology, metallurgical engineering, metallurgical and materials engineering, pulp and paper technology, biochemical engineering, medical technology, food technology, and leather technology.

Civil Engineering: Civil engineering, geoinformatics, environmental engineering, agricultural engineering, architecture, town and country planning, soil technology, ocean and coastal engineering, and naval architecture.

Computer Science: Computer science and engineering, information technology, communication and computer engineering, computer science, computer science and information technology, computer software engineering, information and communication technology, and information technology and management.

Electrical Engineering: Electrical and electronics engineering, instrumentation and control engineering, energy engineering, electrical engineering, and electrical engineering.

Electrics Engineering: Electronics and communication engineering, electronics and telecommunication engineering, and electronics and instrumentation.

Mechanical Engineering: Mechanical engineering, aeronautical engineering, automobile engineering, industrial engineering, manufacturing engineering, marine engineering, mechanics and automation, mechatronics, mining engineering, mining machinery, production engineering, and robotics.

Choosing colleges

After selecting the suitable branches, candidates must pick out a good number of colleges offering those branches, evaluate their ‘merit’ according to certain criteria, rank them and consider them in the order of their rank. Of course, for assessing their merit you have to visit them, interact with existing students, discuss with the heads of departments, consult their websites and so on, so as to evaluate them under the ten heads described below.

The assessment heads and the maximum marks allotted for each of them could be as follows.

Infrastructural facilities: Comfortable class rooms, library, labs, hostel, sports/gym facilities, canteen, rest room, resting rooms, bank, roads, transport and medical assistance will fall under this. (Maximum mark allotted: 16)

Quality teaching: Maintenance of prescribed teacher-student ratio (now, 1: 20), senior teaching faculty with Ph.Ds, PG and research programmes, modern teaching and administrative methods. (16)

Accreditation: The institution and courses being accredited by NAAC and NBA. (12)

Relative ranking: Semester exam results and academic ranking, with respect to other colleges as announced by the university and other bodies. (12)

Skill development programmes: Provision of personality and soft skill development programmes on comprehension, communication, cooperation and leadership qualities and training for GRE, TOEFL, GATE and the likes which are required for jobs/higher studies. (8)

Placement: Availability of placement wing and its performance level. (8)

Feedback: Active alumni association and the feedback from its members on their alma mater. (8)

In-plant training and bridge courses: MOUs and other arrangements for semester-end in-plant training in industries; bridge courses on parts of first-year syllabus in math, and so on, missed by lateral entry students. (8)

Involvement of management and provision for foreign language: Genuineness of the management’s interest in education as reflected in their approach to academic problems; provision for learning at least one useful foreign language, such as German, French, Japanese and Russian. (6)

Special arrangements and prevention of unlawful activities: Provision of ramp, lift, and so on, for the differently abled; arrangements to curb ragging, teasing etc. (6)

Total marks: 100

For each of the colleges you have already short listed allot marks as per the above criteria and obtain the total marks. Ranking those colleges according to their total marks and considering them in that order for choice filling during counselling will be a scientific way of getting over the problem.

The writer is former director of entrance examinations and admission Anna University, Chennai.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 10:42:21 AM |

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