Published: 28th September 2023
Emerging Engineering disciplines shaping the India of tomorrow
Let's explore some of the new-age engineering disciplines that have emerged
In an era defined by rapid technological advancements, India stands at the crossroads of innovation and progress. The nation's pursuit of excellence in engineering and technology has never been more critical. As the global landscape undergoes profound transformations, driven by the relentless march of Industry 4.0 technologies and the imperative of digital transformation, India's engineering education and industries must evolve in tandem.
The need for this evolution is clear: India's growing economy, its burgeoning industrial sectors, and its aspirations to lead in the global innovation race all hinge on the ability to harness the latest developments in engineering. Emerging engineering disciplines are not just optional facets of this transformation; they are the very foundation upon which India's future competitiveness and sustainability are built.
Let's explore some of the new-age engineering disciplines that have emerged, each carrying the potential to shape India's technological future and contribute to its societal and economic well-being.
Robotics is rapidly gaining traction in India, projected to grow by -4.63% (2023-2028) resulting in a market volume of US$639.50m in 2028. Witnessing robotics in action across various sectors, from manufacturing and healthcare to agriculture and defence, highlights its widespread adoption.
Prestigious institutions like the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras are pioneering cutting-edge research in robotics, showcasing India's technological prowess on a global scale. It's essential to recognise that robotics is not just a buzzword; it's actively transforming industries by enhancing productivity, reducing labour costs, and ensuring precise operations.
Importantly, robotics plays a pivotal role in realising the Make in India initiative, contributing significantly to manufacturing excellence and productivity.
India's remarkable achievement of being the first country to land on the south pole of the Moon through Chandrayaan-3 serves as a testament to the nation's prowess in space engineering. As India continues its pursuit of space exploration, the demand for skilled engineers to design, build, maintain, and test space systems remains evident.
Beyond space exploration, India is actively involved in launching commercial satellites, advancing satellite technology, and enhancing communication networks. Space engineering is instrumental in bolstering national security, aiding disaster management, and strengthening telecommunication infrastructure, showcasing its vital role in India's technological advancement.
The pressing need to advance sustainability efforts has been outlined as a global priority, and India is no exception. Achieving India's net-zero targets necessitates the expertise of adept environmental engineers leading the way. These professionals are pivotal in developing sustainable solutions, including innovative wastewater treatment methods, air quality monitoring systems, and renewable energy technologies.
Innovations in clean energy, waste management, and eco-friendly construction materials are also vital, with the potential for increased entrepreneurship and research and development in this space. This specialisation is expected to be in high demand, not only in India but also overseas, as countries strive to meet the sustainability targets outlined in international agreements such as the Paris Agreement.
Modern Mobility Systems
India's rapid urbanisation and population growth have created a pressing need for efficient and sustainable transportation solutions. The challenges of high carbon footprints, road congestion, and a lack of well-designed multimodal transport infrastructure have made this an urgent priority. Engineers specialising in modern mobility systems are at the forefront of addressing these challenges.
From electric vehicles to drones and autonomous cars, there are numerous opportunities available within this field. Both passenger mobility and freight segments require substantial overhaul and innovation to create sustainable solutions that align with India's environmental and economic goals.
Quantum computing represents the future of computation, promising exponential leaps in processing power that could revolutionise various industries. Its real-world applications extend far beyond theoretical concepts, encompassing cryptography, drug discovery, materials science, and optimisation problems.
This field offers diverse career options, including research, software development, education, operations, mathematics engineering, and more. Embracing quantum computing is not just about staying ahead in the technological race; it's about unlocking new dimensions of problem-solving and innovation that can have profound implications for India's scientific and industrial landscape. But since it’s so nascent, industries in India have to weigh their needs and manage adoption carefully.
Adoption and Integration of Emerging Engineering Disciplines
Policymakers and industry leaders play a pivotal role in facilitating the seamless adoption and integration of these emerging technologies into India's socio-economic fabric. To encourage innovation and engagement, policymakers can institute supportive regulatory frameworks, tax incentives, and research grants that incentivise companies to invest in these new engineering disciplines.
Furthermore, fostering partnerships between academia, research institutions, and industries can catalyse knowledge transfer and collaborative projects. Industry stakeholders should also invest in upskilling the workforce through training programmes and educational initiatives to ensure a steady supply of skilled professionals in these fields. Encouraging knowledge-sharing forums and international collaborations can broaden the scope of innovation. Ultimately, a concerted effort between policymakers and industry leaders can accelerate the pace at which India harnesses the potential of these technologies, leading to sustainable economic growth and technological leadership on the global stage.
Empowering the Future of Engineering
The academia are at the forefront of shaping the future of engineering in India. For universities, it's crucial to adapt curricula to align with the new and evolving industrial needs by introducing specialised programmes in fields like robotics, space engineering, environmental engineering, modern mobility systems, and quantum computing. By fostering interdisciplinary approaches and encouraging research collaborations with industry partners, universities can equip students with practical skills and knowledge that are in high demand.
To students, I would advise...
Your choice of specialisation matters, and these emerging engineering disciplines offer exciting opportunities for innovation and impact. Embrace these fields, seize internships and research opportunities, and actively engage in projects that address real-world challenges. Your contributions can drive India's technological advancement and position you as future leader in the global engineering landscape.
In conclusion, aspiring engineers, educational institutions, policymakers, and industry leaders must collectively recognise the potential of these fields and commit to their integration into India's technological fabric. By doing so, we not only ensure the nation's competitiveness but also address pressing global challenges like sustainability, transportation efficiency, and computational complexity.
India's journey towards technological excellence is not a solitary one; it's a collaborative endeavour that brings together talent, ambition, and innovation. As we pioneer this transformative future, we pave the way for India to not only embrace change but also lead it, shaping a brighter, more innovative world for generations to come.
(Shekhar Sanyal is the Country Head and Director, IET India. Views expressed are his own)