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iitbd1-02According to Economic Times, IIT Bombay has acceeded to the government’s request to open up first day of placement season to core engineering industries. This is despite the fact that these industries offer only “half of the average Rs 30 lakh (~US$ 46K) salary” benchmark set by Day 1 prima-donnas like investment banking, ecommerce, management consulting and technology industries.

Readers of Michael Lewis’s “The Big Short” would know how banks made a fortune before sparking off the Great Financial Crisis. Here’s a short version for others: Investment banks created structured financial products that no one understood, packaged subprime mortgages into derivatives that Warren Buffett famously called “weapons of mass financial destruction”, hoodwinked Moody’s and other leading CRAs into rating MBS, CDO, and other structured products as prime assets, secured the necessary regulatory approvals, and sold them off to all and sundry, including conservative pension funds. In the process, they made boatloads of money and could reward themselves $$ bonuses – heck even one or two $$$M severance packages. In the end, when everything went belly up, they managed to get bailed out with taxpayer money.

Anyone who has been following the ecommerce industry in India would’ve heard about this cab aggregator company that was recently named as the Best Startup of the Year. Founded by two IIT Bombay engineering graduates five years ago, the company reached an astounding US$ 5B valuation in its latest funding round – despite making little revenues and suffering massive losses.

Investment banks and ecommerce startups have challenged established norms and rewritten many rules of the game. In the process, they have earned fame and fortune without breaking any laws. Without going into the ethics and sustainability of their actions, their accomplishments require top notch talent in their own perverse way.

iitbd1-05Why they need to source this talent from IITs is up to the individual companies to decide. And decide they have: According to this article“IITians are stealing a march… over MBAs. Start-ups and large e-commerce companies such as Flipkart, Ola, Oyo Rooms, Jabong,, Shopclues and Bewakoof. com, plan to hire more engineers this year in corporate and managerial functions.”

Against this backdrop, it’s not surprising that banking and ecommerce dominate Day 1 placements at the IITs.  

Now, coming to “core engineering”, I joined the IT industry soon after I graduated from IIT Bombay in 1985. Therefore, I’m out of touch with the minutiae of the job description of engineering graduates in these industries. However, I do know that cars are still made out of the four stroke combustion engine invented in the early 20th century and soda ash is still manufactured using the Solvay process developed in the 1860s. Therefore, I’m somewhat puzzled at why core engineering is coveting top notch talent from the IITs. The aforementioned article says A-leaguers would give impetus to the government’s “Make In India” initiative. While that’s politically correct, it seems quite lame.


But that’s not the point – if core engineering is coveting top talent from the IITs, it is.

What really matters is, will top notch talent from the IITs reciprocate core engineering’s love for them and accept the jobs offered by steel, electronics and heavy engineering companies on Day 1? That’s the million dollar – er, $46K – question. We’ll know the answer soon, when placements get over by the last week of December.

Ketharaman Swaminathan On November - 25 - 2015


Product, Uncategorized


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  • Abhijit Tongaonkar

    IITs are institutes of choice for the want-to-be-engineer
    talent at the end of 12th standard. The cream of the cream from this
    bunch makes it to IITs. Next four years they learn about technology – generic principles
    in first year and then specialized topics in respective stream over remaining
    three. IITs (and for that matter any other respectable engineering college too) impart one
    more important thing – that of analytical thinking; ability to break down a
    large problem in small ones – till each can be solved using first principles
    and then put it all together for the larger solution.

    I am an engineer myself –and
    after 25+ years of my passing out of engineering college that ability that I
    acquired is helping me today. Soda ash
    and Internal combustion engine industry
    too have complex problems that would be happy to get top talent capable of
    providing solutions to. Instead, what is happening is that the analytical
    problem solving ability is being captured by Banks and consulting agencies and
    put to use to the complex problems in their own domains. That’s the struggle.

    The non-engineering
    industry is looking at the top engineering talent as supply of analytical
    abilities and while the pracice is not incorrect; in some view point it is
    inappropriate. If all you want to play around with excel sheets why spend your four
    years learning intricacies of computing technology and in the process deprive
    computing industry of the much needed talent? Replace ‘computing’ with words
    like mechanical, chemical, civil engineering and statement remains same.

  • sketharaman

    @abhijittongaonkar:disqus : TY for your detailed comment. As an alum of IIT Bombay, I couldn’t agree with you more about your point about how IITs impart an analytical thinking approach. In fact, I mentioned that as the key takeaway of IITs in one of my blog posts:

    That said, the topic under discussion in this blog post is not whether core engineering needs IIT talent but top IIT talent. Virtually everyone from IITs acquires this ability, therefore the analytical thinking approach of even the average IIT talent should suffice for core engineering whose foundations – internal combusion engine, Solvay’s process, etc. – have remained unchanged for nearly a century. Ergo core engineering doesn’t require top IIT talent. But, as I pointed out, what really counts is whether top IIT talent wants core engineering. IMO, analytical ability is as much relevant in Excel spreadsheets as in computing or mechanical or chemical or any other core engineering domain.

  • sketharaman

    UPDATE DATED 23-NOV-2016:

    Indian engineering conglomerate L&T lays off 14,000 employees – which is 11% of its workforce – in what’s perhaps the biggest corporate retrenchment in India of all times.

    Will Core Engineering Still Covet Top IIT Talent?

  • thanks…..for putting such important info. about ENGINEERING COLLEGES. it is very useful for students.THANKS………

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