Scope of Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering courses Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is right now the most happening place as far as space missions are concerned. With successful missions to Mars and the moon and applauded internationally, many aspiring young engineers and scientists will be eager to join ISRO and be a part of its space exploration programs. Women are also encouraged to join.
There are, of course, varied job openings at ISRO, from technical and trade-related ones to administrative and research ones where the engineering fields of civil, mechanical, electrical, electronics, etc are relevant. However, if you are eager to get a post which is related to space satellites, space missiles, space-related components, etc then an engineering degree with a specialization in aeronautics, aerospace, space science and the like will be the plus point. This is because aeronautical and aerospace engineering courses are focused on learning about developing varied kinds of technology which are required in the fields of aviation, exploration missions in space and defence systems. So you can, for example, learn how to design, construct, maintain and operate a space vehicle. Through such courses, you can also get in-depth knowledge of navigation, communication and instrumentation systems. As you can see, with an Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering course you will not just be touching the sky, but be involved in exciting programs of expeditions to the vast Galaxy out there.
Let's have a look, then, at the career path to becoming an ISRO scientist or engineer.
ISRO Scientist and Engineer career opportunities First of all, let's consider where at ISRO you can get a posting. Other than the Headquarters of ISRO, there are career opportunities as scientists and engineers at various ISRO Centres in India. These include the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thiruvananthapuram, where they work on the technology behind launch vehicles; the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR at Sriharikota, which is where the launch pads of India's spacecraft take off; the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru which works on tracking support systems for satellite and launch vehicle missions; U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), which is ISRO's primary hub for designing and developing the technologies which go into building a satellite.
Academic qualifications, skills and other requirements You can apply for a job at ISRO right after you acquire the relevant Degree, with no experience, if there is an ongoing recruitment drive for freshers. You must have a good academic record at both the school and college levels and should pursue higher academic studies in the science or engineering stream. For certain types of jobs, there will be specific subject requirements at Class 12 and Graduate levels, such as Physics or Mathematics.
Based on the level of the position of scientist or engineer and the field of work, you are expected to have a graduate and postgraduate qualification in specific streams. Thus for example, when URSC had recruited scientists and engineers a couple of years ago, the requirement was that at the graduate level, you needed to score an aggregate of at least 65%, be it a B.E./B.E. with MBA or a B.Tech. or a B.Sc. (Engineering) Degree and this Degree was required to be in the fields of Electronics & Communication / Electrical & Electronics Engineering or allied branches. Additionally, it was required to have a Postgraduate Degree with Aeronautical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering specialization, scoring at least an aggregate minimum of 60%.
It should be noted that qualifications acquired through Open and Distance Learning (ODL) are not accepted as eligible academic qualifications for a posting at ISRO. Further, if you have the requisite academic qualification from a foreign educational institute or a foreign University, then you are required to submit its Equivalency Certificate issued by the Association of Indian Universities, New Delhi.
It is not just the Degree which is important, though, in taking up work with ISRO or with any other similar organization. The work responsibilities are challenging and require a high degree of technical aptitude. Good communication skills and teamwork is a must since you will be part of a team under the supervision of senior scientists and senior engineers.
As for age criteria, you need to check the qualification date as on which the age is considered. The age criteria may be relaxed for certain categories of candidates, which would be mentioned in the recruitment notification.
The selection process The first stage of the ISRO recruitment application process is a simple one, where you have to fill up the online application form and upload relevant documents. Based on your academic records and other criteria as decided by the selection committee, you may be shortlisted for a written test. Candidates are then again shortlisted based on the test scores and they are called for a personal interview. For some positions, ISRO may skip the requirement of a written test and call candidates directly for an interview. It is ultimately the interview which will be crucial in selecting the candidates for the vacant position, with the written test's scores not necessarily considered for final selection.
Work location, salary and perks Once you are selected, you must be prepared to take up work at any of the ISRO centres/Department of Space units located anywhere in India, as and when required. As an employee of ISRO, you come under the purview of the National Pension System. For the positions of scientists and engineers, ISRO may provide accommodation and transport facilities, insurance and subsidized canteen facilities. Medical benefits are provided as well to you and eligible dependents. The pay scale will be as per the as per 7th Pay Commission. It is possible that the position at ISRO is a temporary one only. However, they do extend it based on performance and you may be able to continue with ISRO for many years. You can start at the level of Scientist/Engineer SC and get promotions after every four to five years, right up to 'H' level.
You can see the image below to get an insight into the possible career progression at ISRO as a scientist/engineer.
[Chart image source: www.isro.gov.in/]
Other ISRO opportunities It is also advisable to look out for opportunities after completing a Ph.D Aerospace Engineering as a Senior Research Fellow or Research Associate. The Fellowship/Research Associateship offered is of a fixed amount, this based on qualification and experience and the duration may be from one year or more, the renewal depending on the review of the research work's progress.
However, the Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering qualification may not be the required specialization at all ISRO centres. For example, the VSSC ISRO centre had a couple of times offered a Fellowship program to enable students to work as a Research Associate. For this, they required the applicant to have a Ph.D. in any field of research which was relevant to the work at a laboratory of VSSC. Some examples of research studies at VSSC: meteorology, space weather, clouds and gases in the atmosphere, explorations of planets, etc.
Conclusion At the beginning of this article, we spoke about the scope of Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering courses vis-à-vis ISRO. There are other options as well. On completing these specialized courses, you can explore career opportunities in the aviation industry related to commercial airlines, helicopters, military aircraft, turbines, etc.
About nine or ten years ago, Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering was considered a relatively new and offbeat field of engineering. Today, it is an exciting one!
Vandana is based in India with over 15 years experience as a freelance writer. Writing, no doubt, is her primary passion! Having learned the art of blogging from ISC, Vandana is enjoying the thrills of blogging, taking pleasure in sharing information & getting good pageviews at her various blogs.
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