Career Interview - Nilesh Shelar - Electrical Engineer
HomeElectrical Engineer ‣ Interviews: Nilesh Shelar

Nilesh Shelar : Electrical Engineer

What do Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Guglielmo Marconi have in common? All of them were practically applied the theory of electricity to develop devises/ machines that modernized the world we live in - inventing the electric light bulb, induction motor and radio respectively! They all are one of the most influential electrical engineers the world has witnessed. If a career in electrical engineering appeals to you too, take out some time to read what Nilesh Shelar, a senior electrical engineer, has to say:

What is your current position, career focus and total years of experience?

I'm an engineering graduate (specialising in electrical engineering) from Pune Vidyarthi Griha’s (PVG) College of Engineering & Technology that is affiliated to the University of Pune. I'm currently working with a reputed manufacturing organization as Senior Engineer- Electrical Design. I have more than eight years of experience in the field of designing low voltage electrical control panels for industrial applications. My focus area in my current job is "new product development projects". In this we develop new series of products which will be introduced in the market to meet customer requirements. We have different types of products and I work to develop electrical parts for those new products, which later became part of the series production, where a number of machines will be built based on the approved design.

How did you get started in your career? What motivated you to get into this career?

Well, my story is interesting! My education after 10th standard was completely in the technical side - I completed my diploma in Electrical Engineering from G.P.Pune and later shifted to PVG college for graduation in the same field. After my 3rd year examination, I had to face campus interviews. The trend at that time was to get into a software company - irrespective of your specialization. All the toppers and mid-level students were determined to get selected into such organizations.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to enter the field of software after spending almost 5 years in my specialization. All the knowledge I had gained in the domain of electrical engineering would be of no use in a software firm. Nevertheless, I appeared for the interview rounds for some of the software firms, but didn't clear any. I had applied half-heartedly as I too wasn't very keen to get selected - as per my college policy, we could not apply to other companies if we got selected by an organization.

I was looking forward to the manufacturing organizations who would visit our campus. The first one was a well-known, middle-scale Indian manufacturing company. I cleared the technical aptitude and group discussion round but failed the personal interview (as their intake capacity was low). I kept applying to whichever manufacturing firms that visited our college campus and finally got selected by one. Getting a job in the field I wanted was one of my most memorable moments.

What is this career like?

Selecting the proper industry is the first step towards your goals and selecting a proper career or profile is the second step towards success. Electrical engineering is a very wide field with many options. You must choose a field within it and specialize in it. After graduation (B.E/ B.Tech), you can get a government job or a private job. Government jobs are available in state electricity boards, government organizations like MEDA while private jobs are in plenty out there. In electrical you can get the following job profiles:

1. Maintenance jobs specifically in areas like machine maintenance, low voltage (LT) switchgears maintenance, high voltage (HT) switchgears maintenance etc.

2. Automation jobs such as machine automation, process automation, building automation with additional courses like PLC, DCS, SCADA workings.

3. Design jobs like machine deigning (like compressors, generators etc.), vehicle circuit designing, control panel designing, LT/HT crkt designing etc. as per international/ Indian laws.

4. Energy conservation has its own field where electrical engineers can get into energy auditing with an additional qualification of Energy Auditor exam.

5. Power generation plants

6. Testing of electrical parts in organizations like CGL, Siemens where machines/electrical parts such as VSD drives, circuit breakers are tested. Electromagnetic compatibility testing is another specialization where electrical people can enter.

7. Service, quality are other functions where electrical engineers are in demand specifically.

8. Marketing and sales of electrical products.

I started my career with a manufacturing organization but since I was an electrical engineer, I was asked to do plant maintenance which was not my dream job. I wanted to work in the design field, to make machines work as per my way. I didn't want to end up correcting the machines working as per some other designer’s way. So I shifted to another manufacturing organization where I was into designing of electrical circuitry, testing it and releasing it for the market. I'm into designing Low Voltage (LT) electrical control panels with new technology parts such as VSD’s, qualifying it for usage with the help of different testing as per industrial standards, making it suitable for bulk manufacturing and assembling it for series production.

What is a normal work day in the life of an electrical engineer?

My current organization is a mechanical dominated organization where electrical parts come into the picture when a machine that goes into routine testing after completion does not start due to issues like wrong electrical connections, component failure etc. Then, I have to rush to help the production people. In a normal day, you would see me doing tasks such as:

• Checking for plant/ new product development urgencies which need electrical support and give priority to solve it

• Planning new development projects for electrical part and executing them

• Testing new products in the development laboratory

• Visiting suppliers for electrical discussion, finalization of designs

• Providing trainings to production, service people on new designs and making their life easy.

• Product maintenance/ changes (from design point of view) for existing machines/ products

And my day ends with the satisfaction of knowing that I did/ am doing something that I've always dreamt of - being involved in the technical part.

How was your journey from your first job till the current one? Where do you see yourself 5-10 years from now?

I started my first job with an Indian manufacturer as a trainee engineer where I was working on plant maintenance and was responsible for maintenance of the complete plant, machines, including LT and HT switchgear yards.

As I wanted to get into design, I changed my job to my current organization where initially I worked with the mother company to understand the basics of our product, working styles, nature of work etc. I was trained in Europe for it and was asked to implement the training and learning in the local production. It was a great experience working with the Europeans and understanding design, which helped me evolve as a true professional to technically sound about the products we develop here.

In the future, I'm inclined towards the technological side, where I will be learning and introducing new technologies, electrically in machines - machines which will move ahead of the market, machines with energy efficiency, new technologies and so on.

What specialized training and education did you choose to succeed in this field? What inspired you to build the skills?

Well, choosing a field you like helps to keep you going. From my college days I wanted to work in the electrical design field and my decision helped me reach where I am today. My education in electrical engineering helped me to grow faster - which might have not happened in a software organization. I give the credit of my success to the decision that I made.

I think one should always observe their surroundings and get it verified from the books you read in your college days. I used to compare each part of a circuit with my books, online technical literature etc. and get it verified practically on the machine itself.

My initial training with my European colleagues helped me a lot in my current role. The training and practical work I did with them truly helped me stand out in my current organization. For electrical professionals, it is necessary to understand the exact requirements of the mechanical people. Learning/ training electrical people on mechanical views helps a lot. Testing the product on which you're working helps a lot in understanding your mistakes. An electrical person needs to understand the mechanical requirements and conditions at which a machine should perform and design the system accordingly. I think I learnt that easily and fast due to practical exposure to the product.

Which skills have you found most helpful, and which ones will be most important in the future?

I believe in continuous learning. A person doesn't stand anywhere in future if he's not inclined towards new technology. My learning attitude helped me a lot to achieve success in my current field. Taking responsibility of the work you are doing is vital to develop managerial skills.

According to me, these are some of the most important technologies which we need in the electrical domain:

• Practical knowledge and understanding of energy efficiency.

• Knowledge of international standards like IEC, CSA, UL, NEMA etc. in designing systems to became a global leader.

• Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC testing and designing EMC compliant circuits)

• Renewable energy sources like solar, wind mills etc.

What have been your best experiences and challenges while working in this field?

Normally in India most of the organizations are into engineering. There is a difference between engineering and R & D. Research and Development is all about new creation. Engineering is about usage of components as per the need in products. In my current organization, I had introduced new VSD drives in our products and which we qualified as per international standards. I find it very tough to qualify new component as per international standards but I did it and am happy to tell that we have zero failures in those components and machines which have been running for more than 2-3 years in the field now.

As far as challenges in this field are concerned, I feel that it is necessary for an electrical person to know the function/ operation of each component present in a machine. Otherwise, the person will fail in designing and hence it’s a big challenge to think from the mechanical point of view as well when you are working. It is important to learn the mechanical, electronics and civil engineering subjects thoroughly during college days. For me, in a mechanical dominated organization, I have to be "electro-mechanical" to be successful and this is quite challenging.

What recommendation would you give to prospective students who want to advance in this field? What education & skills do they need to focus on, over others?

Electrical engineering is a basic branch of engineering. You have chosen a very specific field which guarantees success. Electrical engineers need to work on computers, mechanical machines, electronic circuits, instrumentation part. I suggest students to work hard in college days and learn every subject seriously irrespective of their basic branch. You will need all these subjects when you are working practically on machines.

Apart from that extra knowledge and practical exposure, the following trainings will help you to grow further.

• Energy Auditor exams on energy efficiency.

• Practical knowledge of PLC, SCADA, DCS programming.

• Instrumentation part like pressure transmitters, temp, transmitters, solenoid valves, encoders, etc.

• Electromagnetic compatibility, harmonics testing.

Do you have any other 'words of wisdom' that you would like to pass on?

“There is only one way to success and that is through hard work. Work hard and live with dreams”. I think this is all I can say.

Nilesh can also reached at his LinkedIn profile -