What Engineering has taught me – SHIVAM CHANDEL

There are dozens of misconceptions hurling in the air that one comes across while discussing about the life of an engineering student. And let me tell you, some of them are quite absurd too!!.

Like the fact that there is quite a significant amount of people (and by that I mean mostly parents) who still believe that the only way to be successful and to live a prosperous life, in today’s society, is by doing engineering.

Which is a very insanely misguided belief, as success doesn’t come from doing engineering, but from doing something that interests you most and doing it with all your heart.

Speaking from personal experience, most of the kids from my class, who were having difficulties keeping up, were the ones who enrolled because of their parents.

That’s speaks for itself. The one prime pre-requisite that every student must have is ‘self-interest’.

 There is no denying the fact it is one of the most rigorous and (supposedly) difficult academic courses out there. Which is also true, but only to a certain extent. But, It really depends on the personal abilities & interests of the individual. 

All the infamous reputation that exists about the engineering degrees in our country and its ‘produced Engineer’s unemployability’ is there only because of the reason that ‘someone did it because their friends did it too‘ psychology.

It is very simple – if you don’t like to study law, then you’d be a terrible lawyer even if you graduate from Stanford. 

It’s just a simple understanding that our education system misses to express to its students.

So Whenever someone asks me, “ why would you opt to study engineering willingly?”. 

I simply reply- “I’m doing it because I like it”

Because that’s the way it is. Because it interests me enough for me to make it my profession. 

But little did I know how much of a difference it would make in me, my personality and the way I perceive my life.

All of us as students are placed in the ‘hot seat’ to make some “very important decisions”, quite frequently throughout our school life.

Like making the first ultimate decision that every school child has to make, which would passively decide their entire future.

And I’m not talking about confessing your feelings to your crush!!! (which also seems like one, if you think about it that way) but the decision of choosing between science, humanities or commerce after our 10th grade.

Contrary to popular belief, it was a very easy decision for me. For a guy, who literally grew up watching ‘The Space Odyssey’ a million times, a die- hard fanatic of the Science – fiction genre and someone who quite possibly had spent more days of his childhood at science camps than at home, it was an easy sell.

Studying and understanding the wonders of science and the nature has always been relaxing and enriching to me. So, it should not come as any surprise that I decided to pursue engineering. 

My father, who has served in the Indian Army for over 30 years, taught me his “Three principles of life”. The three principles which he learned through the course of his life’s deepest struggles and greatest successes. And those are- Perseverance, Love & determination. Exclusively in that order.

“Be persistent in what you do, do it as you love it and never give up”.

I did jot down these points in my journals as a kid but it was not till college that I actually realized them. And as much as I love my dad, I always knew that I need to make my own principles. It always seemed like a silly thought until through college when I was really able to realize my own ‘Three Principles’. Which I will describe as follows:

College is a major step forward in the life of every student. Being the first time far from home, on your own, pressured up to the capacity, to handle AND construct your career. It’s a bit too much and personally speaking I used to have my own meltdowns every month, over call to my mom in the first year. It was a disaster!!!!!

Let’s admit it, our parent’s selfless, ever-nurturing & love spoiled us in our school days. 

Enjoying Maa’s mouth-watering and flavorsome home cooked food made having meals at the college mess almost unbearable. It’s well said that “We often don’t appreciate some things until we can’t have them”.

But again, change is the only constant in life and we all have to learn how to adapt to it. 

Which brings us to the first principle – ‘Flexibility’.

You have to be flexible with and according to your choices.

The ‘degree of increasing complexities’ is the perfect measure about how I’d like to describe – how an engineering degree differs from other degrees. Understanding is the backbone of success in such a terribly complex and rigorous academic course and without understanding, you simply cannot clear engineering.

I learned that straight away when I started with college. My college is affiliated to the Pune University, and Pune university is infamously known, amongst us ‘Engineering-kids’, for its ridiculously hectic academic schedule!!

AND I MEAN IT WHEN I SAY RIDICULOUS.

Let me give you a simple example – Compared to other private universities, where students get a decent post-semester break of about almost a month. Which is quite important, as it can be utilized for internships, home visits (much needed!!), or even to learn a new skill. It can be whatever you want. But here in PU, we get a maxed out post semester break of about 2-3 weeks (3 if you’re lucky but It’s highly unlikely). Other than that, exhausting exams calendar throughout the year, orals, practical’s, really gets the best of us sometimes. It definitely gets very hectic, considering the times I had to manage my time between college studies and my online courses. BUT, I’m not complaining 

It is one of the best reputed universities for engineering in the country for a reason. The hectic schedule & meticulous work load is there to ensure and maintain a certain quality of engineers are produced at the output of the program. And it’s true, the hard work does pay us in the long run.

And so comes the second principle- ‘Commitment’. It is of prime importance to stay committed to your goal. You need to have a crystal-clear view of your goal and the actions necessary for you to achieve it. 

Well, for me, the stressful everyday schedule had a different view.

I always took it as a challenge. It was a little difficult in the beginning, trying to get things to fit in a way that I didn’t lose out on my studies or my interest in growing my other skillsets. But once I was able to construct a systematic pattern for myself, I think it would be fair to say that I enjoyed my time.

Beings have to sacrifice on a little socializing or parties is one thing all us engineering students get used to. But that does not stop us from having the time of our lives. Be it joy-walking with friends to the washrooms (our second hangout spot!!) after every 2 hours long lecture or singing songs in the classroom as soon as the teacher leaves, we have our own ways of making fun. 

 You can say that we are like water, we can adapt very quickly to our surroundings. And that’s the third principle- ‘ Adaptability’ 

 That’s a universal quality because change is the only constant that there is. I have developed to take this into consideration that I have to be ready to be able to adapt to change. No set of parameters remain constant in the equation of life and you have to be able to keep up with that.

In all my subjects that I studied during the course of my engineering degree I was most fond of mathematics. I believe that it is truly mind blowing that we have discovered a way to understand the secrets of the universe through the language of the numbers.

And so, I have developed a way of creating an analytic & calculative approach towards dealing with my life circumstances. I try to discover the problems, highlight its causes, & look for possible solutions. You solve enough problems, you succeed. If you fail, you try again.

That is what engineering teaches you. It inculcates these habits in you that you begin to look at the world with a slightly different mindset than the mundane.

It is an experience like none other and I’m very proud to be a part of the engineering fraternity.

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