Let me begin by telling a small story. There was a man named 'A' who had 10 bucks. 'A' was happy, hardworking, progressive and more importantly, he was enjoying the work. Slowly but steadily, 'A' was growing up and acquiring 10 bucks every month. Eventually, 'A' had 100 bucks. However, with time, things changed and suddenly, a man named ‘B' appeared who directly started with 100 bucks and was growing at a rate of 100 bucks per month. Nonetheless, 'A' was still happy, hardworking, and enjoying his work as usual. In fact, 'A' did some innovations (also by joining hands with 'B') in his work and now was growing at a rate of 15 bucks per months. The life of 'A' took the wrong turn when another guy 'C' started to force 'A' to compare with 'B' without understanding the job description of 'A' and 'B'. Slowly, 'A' started dying and was not able to innovate further. 'B' was growing as usual at a pace of 100 bucks per month. At one point of time, instead of growing, 'A' started declining by 5 bucks per month. Eventually, 'A' stopped enjoying the work and was completely hopeless. This is called 'number game' and 'A' was a victim of the same. Later on, the perception of 'C' about 'A' also changed as he declared that 'A' is good for nothing.

This story resembles what is currently happening to the core engineering branches such as Civil and Mechanical Engineering. Since we celebrate Engineer’s day in India on September 15 which is the birthday of Bharat Ratna Mokshagundam Vishveshwarayya who was a notable civil engineer, allow me to explain through Civil Engineering examples. Civil engineering is one of the oldest engineering branches and most close to the growth of any civilization. Still, we can see several remarkable historical monuments. A few recent ones are Atal tunnel (longest single-tube tunnel in the world) and Chenab rail bridge (highest rail bridge in the world). Imagine, if any of these mega structures fail, what would happen? It would be a disaster. Can someone, who just finished the bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering, design a structure like the Atal tunnel? The answer is NO. Even if someone has designed one, either it would be highly unsafe or highly uneconomical. We need years of experience and confidence before developing such marvellous projects. For such structures, foreign consultants' opinion still matters a lot, just because the indigenous 'A' is not able to develop further due to ‘number game’ and is subjected to the wrong perception of 'C'. Therefore, the civil engineering firms are not paying very well initially compared to the other firms. In fact, such civil engineering firms are giving a real-life experience of civil engineering practice.

As a faculty of IIT Mandi, I regularly meet students who are actually interested to opt for Civil Engineering as their career choice but under the influence of the 'number game', they are slowly losing interest. The number game further leads to the wrong perception about civil engineers. A false impression about anything can lead to grossly wrong decisions. At least, as a society, one should not impose his/her perception on someone who has a potential to become a respected civil engineer. A slight patience can produce high quality civil engineers in India and eventually, this would also give impetus to the 'Atma nirbhar Bharat' movement.

For those who love Civil Engineering and are under the pressure of the perception of their peers, here I am listing the directions that you can show to your career as a civil engineer: advance and futuristic structures such as space stations, lunar base, deep underground nuclear power plants, use of advanced materials in construction, underwater tunnels, renewable energy infrastructure such as dams and offshore wind turbines, application of advanced computational techniques in design process such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, smart buildings, defence shelters, lightweight floating structures, application of 3D printing in construction, and also developing interdisciplinary structures which involve advanced materials with 3D printing with self-sustaining energy supply. There are also several unexplored possibilities of entrepreneurship in the technology-oriented civil engineering consulting. Thus, there is an ample scope of growth and a good career in this profession.

The media too can play a significant role in improving the perception by highlighting the contributions of the civil engineers. On the occasion of World Engineering Day, I would like to salute and congratulate those who are still continuing in the profession of Civil Engineering despite the declining perception about the core engineering jobs.