Book Review: Wasted In Engineering

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The book has one of the most interesting titles and cover images. The title is a thought that resonates among millions of engineering graduates across the country. The cover picture is conceptualised well – one of a ‘wasted engineer’ holding a placard that announces her as a photographer, showing that she studied engineering but ultimately ended up following her passion, anyway. The additional details in the background are the general stereotypical images you would associate with the word ‘engineering’.

This book should have come with a small note: ‘A partially detailed analysis of Engineering as a course of study and career option. Does NOT tell you what to do once you are in it or have done it – except maybe follow your passion. Forget that you did engineering at all, and do what you wanted to do before you chose an engineering course.’

The summary of this book can be given in three simple statements:

If you have not yet joined engineering, but are toying with it as an option (as is rarely the case – you are either into it or not) slap yourself on the back of your head and run as far away as you can from that idea – unless you genuinely love engineering and can be in the top twenty or thirty students among millions, year after year.

If you are doing engineering, and are thinking of getting placed, you must think twice about it and choose other options, or probably resign yourself to the worst possible outcome. Either join the disgruntled herd of sheep and go to MNCs or forget that you have done engineering and go for some other fancy post graduation degree or find a different field you are actually interested in.

If you have already done engineering, and are regretting it, you will nod your head in frustration and anger – because you already know most of the stuff written in this book anyway. The author has written it all down, giving you a very unwelcome recap into what was probably a horrible journey for you – filled with regrets and a series of wrong decisions, provided you didn’t get into it because you actually liked engineering.

The book is actually a series of ‘chapters’ that covers most aspects of engineering. And also the additional view points and things like peer pressure and mindsets of people who actually pursue the course. It is detailed enough, though is found lacking in certain glaring aspects that cannot be ignored. It touches on a subject that will resonate with a majority of young people who are part of the infamous ‘engineering crowd’, but fails to deliver the expected punch.

Who should read the book?

  • If you are someone who has no idea how engineering works, or are getting into it without any actual wish to pursue it passionately, read this book to know why you should change your mind. This will give you a detailed step by step look into all of the things that could and will go wrong.
  • This book is good for parents who think of engineering as a safe bet career option – for them to realise just how difficult a course it is to pursue without proper passion or interest, and how easy it is to get arrears and stay back without completing the course. It would also tell you why getting placed is not as easy as the colleges and others make it sound. Provided you have not already heard the horror stories first hand from people who have actually pursued the course and are either jobless, or stuck in a job they hate or pursuing something else completely different to their course of study. This book just puts it all down in writing, complete with case studies.

Who would probably not gain much from this book?

  • If you are an engineering student or graduate who is angry and frustrated, this book will tell you nothing that you already don’t know. If you were coerced or forced into it, and are doing it against your will, this book will intensify the hatred and helplessness.
  • If you are expecting a Chetan Bhagat-esque ‘what not to do at an engineering college’ kind of fiction – this is NOT it. It is clearly a nonfiction book written with the lessons gained from the author’s personal wasted life as an engineer (as is his claim). This is neither a story nor a memoir – this is a compilation of things that could go wrong in engineering and why you probably should not choose it.

The book would probably have worked better if the author didn’t sound so bitter. Hardened by his personal experience, the author reflects on all the factors that had influenced all the wrong decisions that had led to his biggest gaffe – choosing engineering. Using himself and other people who had failed and succeeded as case studies, the author clearly tells you why you shouldn’t choose engineering unless you are sure that is what you wanted to do. This sounds more like generic life advice that is applicable for any other career, too.

Maybe if it didn’t repeat ‘Engineering padichittaya? Sathyama urupada maata!’ (‘Did you study engineering? I swear you won’t come up in life.’) this book would have made a stronger impact. In short, it is informative if you want to know what exactly is wrong in choosing engineering. If you are looking for something else, give this a miss.

This is the perfect antitheses of all the glossy prospectuses and advertisements many engineering colleges use to lure students. It will quell any wish you might have to choose that option. In its favour, it is at least straightforward in what it is trying to say.

Title: Wasted In Engineering
Author: Prabhu Swaminathan
Publisher/ Imprint: Notion Press
Pages: 184
Genre/ Sub-Genre: Fiction/ Romance
Rating: 3.50 of 5.00
Reviewed for: Author

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