Engineering internships

NOVEL SCHEME

There aren’t too many engineers who have seen transformers being built, although they may have textbook knowledge. Often, a practical hands-on approach becomes a handicap. On the other hand, many companies feel that fresh engineers use them as a training ground before moving on to greener pastures.

In this case, brand loyalty seems to be a far cry. No doubt both are dual concerns for engineers and the engineering industry, but they seem to have little in common. The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) a global professional society for the engineering and technology community, has tried to link the two through an upcoming unique programme.

IET has come up with a common platform for both the industry as well as engineering colleges through an Academic Affiliate Programme which will be launched in India in August. The programme will roll out through a 4-6 month internship for second and third year electrical engineering students.

Companies like Siemens and Bosch have been approached for the programme, while reputed autonomous engineering colleges like BMS College of Engineering, College of Engineering, Pune, Anna University and University of Calcutta engineering colleges, are expected to participate in the nation-wide pilot programme. “Students will have to participate in a competition to be part of the programme. They would submit a project, which will be judged by a panel formed from the corporate participants,” said Shekhar Sanyal, country head India, IET.

Two hundred students will be selected for internship, of these five best will be filtered for an international internship. Depending on their performance, they could even get absorbed by the company. All through the internship, IET will provide a support system through mentors, career managers, professional registered engineers and local networks. In the long run, IET plans to extend the programme to other engineering disciplines, besides increasing the number of colleges.

Though IET has had its India presence since 2006, only this year has the company come up with a proposition to link the corporate world and student force, as there is a felt need. Besides the Academic Affiliate Programme, IET has also come up with a Global Certification Programme for the industry. The programme is tailored to enable engineers to move up the value chain in the company. “Mere textbook knowledge isn’t enough.

Organisations are encouraged to apply a range of five competencies to judge their engineers. Most of it is hands-on application as the idea is to get the engineers out of the textbook mould,” said Mike Bridgefoot, Head of Registration and Standards, IET.

Besides technical knowledge, the other parameters include application, management resources which extend to leadership qualities and developing teams. The remaining highlights include written and verbal communication and ethical aspects like professional behaviour.

Once the engineer is judged on these competencies, the person will receive a professional certification, which is crucial for growth. While it helps in better career prospects, it also ensures employee retention. This internal benchmarking assessment is expected to help employees update their skills and knowledge and have an edge in the competitive job market.

“We don’t seem to have apprentice programmes for engineering students. With the result, when they complete their engineering degree, they come into the workforce with little understanding of how the corporate world functions,” explained Sanyal. Though engineers would eventually fit into the system through a trial and error method, professional certification helps them fine tune themselves. This would groom them into chartered engineers (CEng), a globally recognised professional engineering qualification.

All along, the effort is to nurture home-grown talent and create a young breed of chartered engineers, who have the technical expertise and competency to lead innovative change. It gives them the status of being part of a technological elite, along with international recognition of their qualification. It ensures better career prospects.

According to Engineering Council UK, Chartered Engineers, “are characterised by their ability to develop appropriate solutions to engineering problems, using new or existing technologies, through innovation, creativity and change. They might develop and apply new technologies, promote advanced designs and design methods, introduce new and more efficient production techniques, marketing and construction concepts, pioneer new engineering services and management methods.”

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