It was in late 1970s that biotechnology as an engineering discipline attained prominence in India. Prior to this, topics related to this was linked and restricted to biochemistry. Within a decade the then Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi even set up an exclusive wing for this and thus the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) was born. Consequently, in academics this subject attracted hundreds of students, prompting universities to launch extensive degree courses. Biotechnology as such is applications of engineering in biochemistry and biology with emphasis on research and development.
Indeed, there are ample job opportunities for the students who attain graduation, post-graduate and doctorate scrolls in this discipline. The DBT in its document on Vision and Strategy of 2007 had spelt out that there is a need to establish institutional network and protocol to engage the research and educational institutions, scientific and public agencies, to share their scientific information and experience in the relevant field as discussed above. This has been reiterated in the revised 2014 document too. On their part, the best biotechnology colleges in India have risen to the occasion to produce brilliant scholars. One among such institutions is the Dehradun-based Graphic Era University.
As for the criteria to pursue the three-year B.Sc. or four-year B.E or B.Tech degree courses, the minimum qualification is a pass in 10+2 Higher Secondary examination with at least 50% marks. Apart from the joint entrance examination (JEE), certain universities and colleges also conduct formal tests and interviews for admission.
The major topics studied during the course are microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, process biotechnology, plant and animal biotechnology and immunology apart from bioinformatics, mathematics and engineering. Depending on aptitude and interests the students can opt for specialisation in the spheres of fishery, food and nutrition technology, horticulture, pharmacology, pesticides etc. On graduation, outstanding and scholarly students can pursue post-graduation courses leading to M.Sc, M.E or M.Tech and later aspire for doctorate with specialisation in a particular field.
In the context of career prospects, there are numerous options in the corporate and health sectors, chemical industries and research laboratories, academic institutions, projects concerning energy, bio-diversity and environment, organisations engaged in genetics, stem cells as well as nanotechnology.
So much so in the long run, biotechnologists have a crucial role to play in the overall societal development. And rightly the DBT’s Vision 2020 Paper asserts this aspect for improving family incomes, nutrition and health and reducing inequalities through use of precision tool and techniques for future creation of wealth ensuring social justice.
Likewise, there are several other academic courses that lead to highly progressive and lucrative professional careers. Oil and petroleum technology is one among them. However, the number of colleges offering full-time courses on petroleum engineering in India is limited. It is a discipline that involves engineering, geology, environmental science and several other subjects.
Fortunately, institutions like the university cited earlier for studies in biotechnology has a well structured graduation course in this discipline. It covers the entire gamut of petroleum industry – both upstream and downstream. Industrial visit and exposure to field based experience is an integral part of this programme. Projects are planned on problem oriented research.
The Department of Petroleum Engineering at this university offers B.Tech and also doctoral programmes leading to petroleum engineering. Incidentally, the country’s premier organisation in the petroleum sector, ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) had its origin in Dehradun and even today, its headquarters is located in this city although the main operational offices function from Mumbai and elsewhere in the country.
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