Electrical Engineers… Lighting the Lives

When I was in school and people around me used to talk about engineers and engineering colleges, the first image that used to flash in my mind was, someone donning a yellow helmet, at the construction site with lots of sheets in his hand which had the construction plan of the site. Sometimes I also used to imagine a person in some power-plant with heavy machinery around him. But over the years that image had actually changed and after I completed my graduation in the field of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, that’s when I realized there is more to engineering than those images which used to rule my mind as a young girl in school.

The term engineer and engineering colleges gained more popularity after the Bollywood blockbuster 3 Idiots directed by Rajkumar Hirani, one of the best director of Indian cinema. The two popular characters – Rancho played by the versatile actor Aamir Khan and Chatur Ramalingam played by then debutant Omi Vaidya, stole the screen space and viewers mostly engineers were able to relate to these characters and relived their good old days of engineering once again. With its humorous take on the life of an engineer right from ragging to placement, it also propagated some thoughtful messages to the masses.

The most popular part of the movie was the 4 minutes hilarious speech by Chatur on the occasion of Teacher’s Day. There he mentioned – “Aaj hum chatra yahan hai, kal desh videsh phail jayenge, waada hai aapse jis desh mein honge wahan “B@!#&*%R” karenge.” Here if I could restore the original speech of Chatur where the obscene word before its replacement meant “CHAMATKAR”. Indeed, engineers round the world has been creating “CHAMATKAR” or in other words creating wonders in various spheres other than the world of engineering.

I am sure, often individuals who have pursued engineering as their graduation feel very elated, when they come across any celebrity or any other renowned figure who has a degree of B.E or B. Tech, tagged to themselves. Similarly when it comes to this type of a feeling and relating to renowned people I am no less in carrying a sense of pride, which perhaps earlier while pursuing the course was not so intense and relevant to me then.

In today’s highly competitive world, where every day is a new challenge, it is difficult but not impossible to win and leave an indelible mark in the profession you pursue. So whenever, I have faced any hurdles or any new challenges on professional front there have been my father (like most of the fathers of this generation who takes pride in their daughter’s achievement) standing behind me like a formidable pillar of strength and support. Being an avid reader himself he always have been highlighting the achievements of various engineers’ especially electrical engineers who had carved a niche for themselves in fields apart from their engineering domain.

For me and my father, careers on engineering is very close to heart reasons being different. For me, it is more of trying to desperately get a foothold in a field which is not meant for me and for my father it is like encouraging his only daughter to be the first generation of engineer from the family. I am sure most of the readers would agree that a discussion with parents on pursuing a different career is the most difficult discussion ever, after the topic on marriage. But his wit and humour, related to engineering and engineers pursuing different professions has always been adding a special flavour to these otherwise heavy father- daughter discussions and he has gladly appreciated my decision on pursuing a career other than technical front.

Let’s take you through the list of few electrical engineers who have done extremely well in fields apart from technical.

  • Rowan Atkinson: Famously known as Mr Bean, Rowan Atkinson received his degree in Electrical Engineering from Newcastle University, England. He also went on to complete his MSc in Electrical Engineering at The Queen’s College, Oxford. He is one of the best comedian who has been inducing a laughter therapy to his fans since more than two decades.
  • Mike Bloomberg: The 8th richest man in the world, owning the Bloomberg LP, a global financial services, mass media, and software company, Mike Bloomberg has the degree of Electrical Engineering to his achievement. With a net worth estimated at US$43.3 billion, as of October 2016, Mike proved his versatility as a businessman, author, politician, and philanthropist.
  • Raghuram Rajan: The 23rd RBI Governor Raghuram Govind Rajan has received a degree in Electrical Engineering from the reputed Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1981. Apart from being an electrical engineer he has many other awards and accolades to his credit and has held many prestigious positions as an economist. He is one of the youngest achiever in the field of economics in India and has helped in re-engineering the economics of the country through his policies, during his tenure as the RBI Governor.
  • Nitish Kumar: Elected twice as the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar is an electrical engineer, having studied in Bihar College of Engineering, currently known as NIT Patna. He has proved himself as a stalwart in Indian Politics by becoming the Union Minister for Railways and Minister for Surface Transport and later, the Minister for Agriculture in 1998–99, in the NDA Government headed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
  • Prabhu Gaur Gopal Das: Gaur Gopal Das, an Electrical Engineer, have completed his graduation from the College Of Engineering, Pune. Applauded for his famous speech “A Monk Who Bought His Ferrari” Prabhuji through his humorous speeches has been motivating the youth as well as people from different walks of life to lead a dutiful, happy and stress free life. Based on the timeless wisdom coming down from ages, his talks have been contributing in social engineering to build a better society and to find simple solutions to difficult problems.
  • Baba Sehgal: Legendary iconic Indian Rapstar Baba Sehgal, broke all the records in the 90’s with his chart-busters like Thanda Pani, Dr Dhingra, Alibaba and many more. Popularly known as world’s first professional Hindi rapper and first Indian rapper, Baba Sehgal has a degree of Electrical engineering to his credit from B.Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Uttarakhand.
  • Jaspal Bhatti: Best known for his comedy shows Ulta Pulta and Flop Shows which was aired in Doordarshan in late 80s and early 90s, Jaspal Bhatti graduated from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh as an Electrical Engineer. He was honoured with the Padma Bhushan (posthumously), India’s third highest civilian award for his contribution to the field of entertainment.
  • Kailash Satyarthi: The Nobel Peace Prize winner in the year 2014, have completed his graduation in Electrical Engineering from Samrat Ashok Technological Institute, Vidisha and he also holds a post-graduate degree in high-voltage engineering to his credit. He founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement) in 1980 and has been actively working to protect the rights of more than 83,000 children from 144 countries.

Apart from these renowned personalities, we have many other actors, actresses, music directors, authors, entrepreneurs and cricketers like Ashton Kutcher, Fawad Khan, Kriti Sanon, Cindy Crawford, Anupam Roy, Shankar Madhavan, Chetan Bhagat, Sachin Bansal, Binny Bansal, Rohit Bansal, Kunal Bahl, Anil Kumble, Javagal Srinath and many more who apart from being an engineer has also proved their worth in other genres as well. The new kid on the block being Viral Acharya, the newly appointed RBI Deputy Governor who has graduated from IIT, Mumbai in Computer Science Engineering.

But here again few readers might question – why engineering when they actually did not pursue further in technical field? Even I have faced this particular question in many job interviews after I have completed my PGDM in Human Resources.

This same question was also raised in the movie 3 idiots where Aamir Khan questions – “Agar Bank mein hi naukri karni thi toh engineering kyu ki?”

The easiest approach to this question is owing to the large number of engineering colleges both private and government institutes, which have been mushrooming since two decades across the country, most of the students then enrolled themselves for the technical education. Another approach to this question could be owing to pressure from the peers and family a career in the technical field looked more lucrative.

But the answer to this question which might prove apt to the highest level of precision is, perhaps they wanted to do something breakthrough in their field of interest. They wanted to be the leaders and not the followers in their domain and to leave an indelible mark in their field of passion and interest. Making the best use of the opportunity that came across they went on to experiment with life and career beyond engineering. Again a reference can be made to the character, Farhan Qureshi played by R Madhavan who in real life is an electronics engineer. Farhan wanted to be a wild-life photographer and when he was allowed to pursue his passion he was faring very well in his field.

Getting a degree in different branches of education and following one’s own area of interest are totally different things for many people.

For few technical graduates, they might have found their passion in their technical education which in turn has helped them to pursue a career on it. But for selected few, the hunger to achieve more might have driven them to explore different fields other than the technical fields of engineering.

And when you make a career out of your passion you create wonders.

It reminds me of the famous quote by Danny Kaye, an American actor – “Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”

*Disclaimer: apart from the facts on the movie and the renowned personalities, views are personal and are not intended to hurt the sentiment of anyone.

By Devleena Nath.

She writes at Speak Your Heart.