Is chemical engineering losing its charm?
India has been a hub for leading chemical industries in the world since few decades. It is very unfortunate that the glory of the Indian chemical industry is not able to inspire students to opt the field. Of course, the number of institutes that offers this engineering specialisation is less. Only little over 100 colleges in India teach Chemical Engineering and Chemical Technology courses and produce only 20,000 chemical engineers and technologists every year. It would be shocking to know that only three private engineering colleges each in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh offer chemical engineering specialisation to students.
If states of affairs and facts are of any indication, we can believe that chemical engineering is losing its charm. Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University of Hyderabad, a premier engineering institute of Telangana does not even have a separate department for chemical engineering and it functions under Department of Chemistry. According to statistics, out of 10 lakh engineering seats, chemical engineering seats are only 10,000 i.e. one per cent.
Out of this, government engineering colleges and universities offers 60 to 70 per cent seats. This would inspire many students to choose chemical engineering as major during engineering studies. But obtaining a seat in these colleges would require a firm footed effort by students. These days, it has become rare to see a student aspiring to be a chemical engineer. Unlike jobs in IT sector, where an employee sits in a big glass building with some fancy name, chemical engineers strive in unaesthetic environment to accommodate the needs of all.
Moreover, everyone has a notion that chemical engineering implies to dealing only with test tubes for hours together. It should be noted that every object that we use in our daily lives, from soaps to perfumes, pencil to bag, cooking gas to bitumen roads, paints on the walls to fabric of the cloth and the micro level chips to super computers take their form from the innovative research of the chemical engineers. It should also be recollected that many prominent personalities of the world like Andrew Grove, founder of Intel; Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric; Victor Mills who developed Pringles at P&G; Mukesh Ambani of Reliance industries; Anant Pai, Father of Indian Comics; Kallam Anji Reddy, Founder of Dr. Reddy's Laboratories; Ashwin Dani, Founder of Asian Paints; Madhukar Parekh, Co-founder of Pidilite Industries were all Chemical and Technologists.
Chemical engineers can change the world as they improve the quality of life of people. They can change the entire world with their innovations. Reviving the glory to this field should be done on war-footing. Students should get inspired to opt this field. For this, governments and engineering institutes should work together and conduct inspiring seminars and conferences. It should be appreciated that engineering institutes like BVRIT, Hyderabad, Institute of Chemical Engineers and other colleges are trying this by organising national student conferences. Many more colleges should join this move and revive its glory. One thing that should be understood by everyone who ignored this field is that, Chemical Engineering is unique sciences that form the core of our life and thank the chemical engineers for the technologically sophisticated and automated.
- Sindhur Gollanapalli