But it lost its luster with the emergence of more white-collar jobs in computing, mechanics and electricity, says IIT Guwahati director TG Sitharam, who previously worked at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore.
Civil engineering applies science and mathematics to the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure. “Civil engineering transforms society. A nation's economic engines are built on that, ”says Sithraman. Newer fields like IT, robotics, AI and IoT, he says, are built on top of basic infrastructure, so civil has also become an interdisciplinary issue. "Planning and scheduling, project risk forecasting, modularization and prefabrication, health monitoring and image recognition (using drones) will greatly benefit from AI, IoT and robotics," he says. IIT Guwahati has been encouraging interdisciplinary research and studies for civil engineering students.
As India builds more infrastructure, the demand for civil engineers will grow. The country is estimated to need approximately 4 million civil engineers over the next decade to deliver the real estate space and infrastructure it requires.
Unfortunately, less-skilled civil engineers have undermined the industry's confidence in the profession. “Many civil works, each worth hundreds of millions of rupees, are occupied by illiterate contractors. When they make a mistake, there is no responsibility, "says Sitharam.
The best civil engineers, he says, will emerge if they are better trained in universities and paid well for their jobs. While civil engineering students at IITs tend to get well-paying jobs, those at lower institutes often struggle.
Civil engineers, Sitharam says, must be professionally certified to practice the trade. The Engineers Bill, intended to regulate the profession as doctors and public accountants, has been pending in Parliament for a long time. Civil engineers, he says, should receive training for six months before graduating. "In terms of curriculum, we are fine, but the culture of practice must be incorporated into the academic program," says Sitharam.
To be more employable, civil engineers must develop mathematical, oral, written communication, problem solving, organizing, and decision-making skills. They must develop their work in the laboratories; focus more on new surveying techniques, understand local geology and the behavior of new materials, including soil (they specialize in geotechnical engineering). Civil engineers in the aerospace industry to design aircraft, space stations, and defense-related projects with ISRO, DRDO, etc., will have stable jobs. Some can also be found in the automotive industry. Our students are good at analytical work, doing simulations and models.