When Anurag Kalra was doing his masters degree in chemical engineering at Punjab Technical University, he only vaguely knew about rubber technology, which transforms rubber or polymers (plastics) into stuff like automobile tyres. However, he was keen on pursuing polymer engineering because he knew it covered aspects of the petrochemical industry, a sunrise sector.
When he subsequently took up the discipline at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi, he understood the potential of rubber technology. Thanks to a judicious career switch, Kalra — who started off 10 years ago on Rs 10,000 a month as a technical consultant at the Footwear Design and Development Institute, Noida — is today manager of the quality department of Maruti Suzuki India Ltd (MSIL). Today, his annual pay packet is nearly Rs 18 lakh.
Rubber technology, a niche area of polymer technology, has been around for quite some time, but the massive growth in the automobile industry in recent years has clearly made it a hot career option.
In addition to tyres and rubber parts for the automobile industry, it involves the production of materials such as latex, synthetic rubber and a wide range of plastic products.
I did postgraduation in chemistry and then enrolled for a masters in technology at the IIT, Kharagpur, which offers rubber technology as a specialisation. I was awed by the fact that the department had a 100 per cent placement record, says Manas Mondal, a second-year student.
The industry is keen to hire freshers or experienced rubber technologists. Says Rahul Ghatak, head of human resources (HR), Ceat Limited, The job calls for a niche skill set. With the advent of several tyre majors in India and the boom in the automobile and infrastructure sectors, the demand for the profession has risen sharply.
Experts such as S.Y. Siddiqui, HR head at Maruti Suzuki, feel that once you bag a job in a top company theres no looking back.
In the automobile original equipment manufacturing segment [firms that make products for others to repackage and sell], the career growth for rubber technologists is similar to that of engineers from any other stream. However, in the tyre or rubber industries, they enjoy an edge over others. At Maruti Suzuki, we have a career growth policy, which offers three distinct career tracks — fast track career, normal career track and extended career track. One can get into any one, depending on his or her performance and potential, explains Siddiqui.
The biggest advantage of this sector is that it has little or no competition.
For a bachelors degree in rubber technology, you need to study science in Plus Two and clear the respective entrance exam. For an MTech, you must be a BTech or postgraduate in polymer chemistry with a substantially good Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) score.
We offer MTech and PhD in rubber technology for those wanting to make it in the rubber industry or research. We also offer a few short-term courses for professionals seeking an edge over their peers, says Santanu Chattopadhyay, principal co-ordinator and assistant professor, Rubber Technology Centre, IIT, Kharagpur.
According to teachers at the various institutes, there has been a steady increase in the number of applicants for courses in rubber technology.
We began offering it as a specialisation with just 10 seats in 1983. But over the years, we were forced to increase the intake to 30, says Bharat H. Shah, assistant professor of chemical engineering, L.D. College of Engineering, Ahmedabad. Shah adds that all students get good placements even before they get their degrees.
Last, but not the least, the pay is good.
With so much going for it, the horizons of rubber technology will continue to expand for a long time to come.
What you earn
At the entry level one can
expect Rs 5 lakh (annually), Rs 12-18 lakh at the mid level, and Rs 20-35 lakh at the senior level.
Where you learn
- BE in rubber engineering (4 years), Gujarat University (http://ldce.itgo.com), Navarangpura, Ahmedabad
- BTech (4 years), Anna University (www.annauniv.edu), Chennai
- BTech in polymer science and rubber technology (3 years),
Cochin University of Science & Technology (www.cusat.ac.in), Kochi
- BSc in rubber technology (3 years), Mahatma Gandhi University (www.mguniversity.edu/home.
- MTech in polymer science (2 years), Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi (www.iitd.ac.in/center/cpse/polymer.html)
- MTech in rubber technology
(2 years), Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (www.iitkgp.ac.in/departments/home.php?deptcode=RT)
- The list is not exhaustive
Good pay n exciting growth prospects
Limited opportunities for a corporate career as compared with, say, a mechanical or electronics engineer