Instrumentation Engineer Career Information
What an Instrumentation Engineer does
Thanks to the ‘Herculean’ efforts of Instrumentation Engineers, we have seen the light of the day (not literally, of course)! Had it not been for their saving grace, we would have perennially remained in the ‘Dark Ages’. Pigeons or emissaries, would have perpetually been our sole mode of communication and leave alone computers, even tele-communication would have been a distant dream. So, without these key people functioning in our society, it would inevitably have become sparkless!
There are various alternative titles for Instrumentation Engineering viz
• Electrical Engineering (Heavy) / Engineering (Electrical)
• Instrumentation Engineering
• Power Systems Engineering / Power Supply Company Engineering
• Building Services Engineering (Electrical)
With the increasing demand for electrical energy, the development in audio and video communication systems and the automation industry, instrumentation/ electrical engineers have become indispensable to society today.
The role of an electrical or instrumental engineer comprises the design and development of more efficient electrical machinery, power systems and control equipment for the generation, transmission and distribution of electrical energy and telecommunication.
Instrumentation Engineering Technology provides knowledge and skill development in understanding and applying the instrumentation used to measure, record and control process variables (such as flow, temperature, level and pressure).
After two years of suitable industrial experience, graduates are eligible for the position of Applied Science Technologists. Graduates also receive advance credit standing for apprenticeship training in the Industrial Instrument Mechanic trade.
Instrumentation technicians commission, install, calibrate, maintain and repair complex measurement and control systems used in a variety of process control applications.
Instrumentation measurement and control principles, as applied to both pneumatic and electronic instruments, will be studied providing the student with a sound background in theory and practice.
The ‘Tasks and Duties’ of Instrumentation/Electrical engineers constitutes of:
• Developing concept designs and feasibility studies
• Designing or updating specifications and designs of electrical systems and equipment
• Designing ways to generate and manage electricity
• Devising ways to control processes using automation techniques and computers
• Preparing the specifications, plans and drawings
• Calculating estimates of the cost and amount of materials required
• Examining the safety aspects of the planned work
• Planning the manufacture or use of equipment and appliances
• Overseeing the testing of new systems and correction of faults
• Supervising the installation and maintenance of systems and equipment
One could also opt for specializations in:
• Infrastructure (power stations, water and waste treatment, transport etc.)
• Buildings (high rise, commercial, residential)
• Production (factories, products etc.)
• Research (university, industrial etc.)
There is no dearth of jobs for instrumentation / electrical engineers. Graduates with B.E. in Instrumentation can always find work in the pulp and paper industry, engineering firms, petrochemical plants, mining industry, sales and service companies, oil refineries, gas plants or consulting firms. They can find employment in the following areas:
Government Sector, including the railways, municipal corporations, telecommunications
• Public Sector organisations
• Private companies
• As commissioned officers in the defence services
• Research organisations and laboratories
• As technical experts on engineering projects in banks and financial corporations
• An engineer can set up his / her own small unit / company or consultancy
Thus, they can seek careers in public and private sectors such as railways, civil aviation and almost all types of manufacturing plants. They can also get into teaching in India or abroad or indulge in research in laboratories. Opportunities also exist in instrument departments in the chemical, petroleum, steel, manufacturing industries.
The organizations dealing with nuclear and thermal generation, sales and technical service of instrumentation equipment are also in constant need of instrumentation engineers.
Instrumentation or Electrical engineers are needed in all kinds of industries and firms – large or small. They can find jobs in power plants - atomic, hydroelectric or thermal. Career prospects for engineers in this field, particularly blossoms in the following career-options as Instrumentation Technologists, Engineering Technologists, Control technicians, Technical representatives
Abilities & Traits Required
Electrical engineers need to have:
• Conceptual and interpretive drawing skills
• Computer skills
• Problem-solving skills
• Mathematical ability
• Decision-making and Organisational ability
Electrical engineers spend a lot of time interacting with people, so it is important that they have good communication and people-management skills. Sound business skills are also required in this field.
Electrical engineers need to know about:
• Circuit theory
• Heavy-current or power electrical engineering
• Law (including contract law), resource management, and the acts of legislation and industry standards that apply to them and their work.
• Updated information, equipment and methods associated with electrical engineering
Personal Attributes Organizing ability, practicality, ability to get on well with people of all types- at all levels in the hierarchy - from operatives to heads of research and managing director, ability to keep calm under pressure and in inevitable crises, and a liking for being at the centre of action. It is also necessary to like working with tools, drawing sketches of complex things and operations, and conceptualising forms and structures. While a high level of practicality, skill, accuracy, understanding power, capacity to toil, and perseverance are needed in ample quality, one must also have a knack for numbers and the ability to express one's ideas precisely to others.
Electrical engineers need to be accurate, careful, imaginative and creative. They should be able to work well under pressure, make good judgements and prioritise. They need to be able to work as part of a team, and have the ability to work unsupervised. They also need to be adaptable, practical and able to do hands-on work if required.
Physical Requirements Electrical engineers must have normal colour vision. For hands-on work, good hand and eye co-ordination is an advantage.
BE Instrumentation Engineering or BTech Instrumentation Engineering
Along with a sense of satisfaction, being compensated well for the work you do is a primary concern. Engineers generally make what is considered a "good salary." One can usually expect a good payment in the fields of engineering, but the extent of the money offered would depend on one’s academic credentials, job profile and most importantly, his individual performance.
There was a time when the career path for any Indian whiz kid with ambition and a degree in electrical engineering, from any the country's top technology institutes, would be to head for Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin or Texas to work at a premier U.S. semiconductor company. But, no longer now. Today, the India's best and brightest tech minds need move no farther than Bangalore, where they can do cutting-edge work for the rapidly expanding labs of Intel, Texas Instruments, Hewlett-Packard, and other tech giants. India has some 7,500 chip designers working for 65 companies, and their ranks are swelling by 20% a year. Their pay starting at Rs 25000- 45000 safely ensures quite a comfortable and fulfilling life in India.