What is Polymer Engineering?
Polymers are substances that are made up of large molecules that have sub-units linked together repeatedly to form chains and other patterns. The properties of polymers depend upon the elements comprising the molecules and the patterns formed. Some polymers are hard and strong, some are sticky and gooey, some are stretchy and bendy and some are even rubbery and bouncy. So, polymers are used to create plastics, adhesives, coatings, foams, fibres and even materials used in electronic and optical devices among other things. Polymer engineering is therefore about design and development of techniques and equipment to create or modify polymeric materials at a large scale. Some polymer engineers are responsible for creating processes that will enable polymer materials to be produced more efficiently and cost effectively, while other engineers will be responsible for creating new applications for polymer materials that will ultimately be developed into new products. A course in polymer engineering is Interdisciplinary in nature, and is a confluence of chemical engineering, material science, chemistry and engineering physics. The focus of the course is on development of competencies in the science of polymer materials, test procedures, designing for manufacturability, large quantity processing, and quality assurance. Additionally, various industry specific electives are also offered to students.
How to Pursue the Course?
There are state and national level entrance examinations to be written for taking admission in a Polymer Engineering course. Some of these exams are JEE Mains, JEE Advanced, Maharashtra MHT-CET, CUSAT-CAT in Kerala etc. A student is eligible to give these exams if he/she scores minimum 50% (in some cases 60% or more) in maths, physics and chemistry in class 12th.
Some institutions offering under graduation in Polymer Engineering are: Anna University, Tamil Nadu; Hindustan University, Chennai; BIT Mesra; MIT, Pune; IIT, Roorkee; Delhi Technological University; Visvesvaraya Technological University, Karnataka; Cochin University of Science and Technology, Kerala; University of Calcutta, West Bengal; etc.
Polymers are in use in almost all aspects of our life from the simple plastic products to sophisticated electronics. More and more new polymers are being synthesised in laboratories and new applications for them are coming up. These too need to be mass produced. As a result there is a lot of demand for polymer engineers. They can find jobs in research laboratories, manufacturers of plastics and other polymeric materials and even end user industries such as automotive, electronics, aerospace, consumer electronics and manufacturers of biomedical products. They can be working as process engineers, production engineers, quality control inspectors, mold designers etc.
Polymer Engineering graduates initially gets salary between 2to 3 lakhs a year depending upon the reputation of the institute. This salary goes up significantly with experience and specialization. With approximately five years of experience, senior polymer engineers can earn attractive salaries in the range of Rs. 50,000 to 80,000 per month.