According to a survey by trade association Nasscom in 2019, India produces 1.5 million engineering graduates every year, but only 250,000 of them get jobs in the core engineering industry. In another survey by Aspiring Minds, 80% of Indian engineers were unemployed in 2019.
Even though there are no separate employability surveys for engineering branches such as automotive and mechanical, Venkatraj K, the deputy director general of SAE India, is of the opinion that students who regularly take part in SAE India’s marque events such as BAJA, SUPRA and AWIM are far more employable than those who don’t.
Short for Society of Automotive Engineers India, SAE India organises BAJA, SUPRA and AWIM, which give a chance to engineering students to design, develop and race prototype vehicles on a challenging terrain. “These events make students industry-ready,” said Venkatraj K.
BAJA India: Started in 2007, it is SAE India’s biggest event. “Student teams need to build an all-terrain vehicle and then put it to test on a tough off-road track near Indore (at NATRAX, Pithampur). Tests such as acceleration, braking, manoeuvrability, etc, are carried out, followed by an endurance race where drivers and their vehicles are pushed to the limits till a winner emerges,” Venkatraj K told FE. “For most mechanical and automotive engineers, winning BAJA India is like a career goal.”
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SUPRA India: If BAJA is held on off-road tracks, SUPRA is the on-road version of it. It’s held on race tracks such as the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida. “SUPRA provides a platform for students to apply their engineering skills to design and construct a Formula category car,” he said. “Students have to conceive, design, fabricate and maintain the Formula car without direct involvement from professionals, automotive engineers, racers, or related professionals.”
AWIM: Short for ‘A World in Motion’, it brings together teachers, students and industry volunteers in an exploration of physical science while addressing essential mathematic and scientific concepts and skills. “Industry volunteers play an essential role in motivating the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths by bringing their everyday experiences into an AWIM classroom,” Venkatraj K said.
In addition to enhancing core engineering skills of participants, these events also contribute towards their soft skills. “Soft skills are possibly as important as technical skills,” he said. “You may be a great engineer, but you also need to be a good team player. That’s what students learn here.