Introduction

The Department of Energy Science and Engineering (DESE) has a vision to develop sustainable energy systems and solutions for future energy needs of the world in general and India in particular. Established as the interdisciplinary Energy Systems Engineering programme in 1981, it was upgraded to a full-fledged department in 2007. It is one of the very few departments in India to cater to the challenges specific to the energy sector.

What is Energy Science and Engineering all about?

Energy Science

It involves various sciences which are related to and important for Energy Engineering. For e.g. Thermodynamics, Fluid Mechanics, Structural Mechanics, Heat Transfer, Mass Transfer, Material Science and Basics of Electrical Engineering such as Electrical Machines and Power Electronics

Energy Engineering

It involves application of the concepts learnt in courses related to Energy Science to specific areas such as renewable power generation, energy storage, energy transmission and load scheduling etc. It invoves interplay of concepts from one or more energy sciences as any energy system is itself interdisciplinary.

Under renewable power generation we may have solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, wind energy, nuclear energy, fuel cells, hydrogen energy etc. Energy storage involves storage in form of thermal (solar thermal) or electrochemical energy (batteries) whereas energy transmission requires knowledge of electrical transmission systems. Energy Engineering also involves a few basic concepts of economics, financial and resources engineering so as to help individuals choose between various available options of energy systems and for appropriate allocation of resources and time to all the available players respectively; so as to have an optimal energy system.

The Department of Energy Science and Engineering (DESE) offers a Dual Degree Program (B-tech in Energy Engineering + M-Tech in Energy Systems Engineering) to 30 of the JEE entrants of IIT-Bombay. Just as summarized in the chart, it is a vastly diverse department which is basically a blend of some aspects of each of Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical and Material Science Departments modified to cater to the challenges thrown at engineers due to ever increasing relevance of renewable energy in the world. Due to its small strength per undergrad batch (30), the faculty-student ratio is quite high which a huge bonus is.

What kind of courses do you have to do?

Just as classified, we basically have 2 types of courses viz. those related to energy sciences and those related to energy engineering. Apart from the core courses (compulsory courses), as per the curriculum the students of DESE are required to do a few electives. It is in these electives where the energy engineering or application part comes in. Most of the core courses are courses related to energy sciences:

1st year: First year courses are common for the entire undergrad batch except for the Department introductory course which is in the 2nd semester for DESE students. The first year courses are mostly related to basic sciences (physics, math, chemistry, biology (yes bio too!! just to make you a well-rounded individual)). There are also a few courses such as workshop, engineering drawing, physics lab, chemistry lab where we are taught some basic engineering skills which every engineer should possess irrespective of his/ her field of study. In the Department introductory course you will be taught in general about various types of Renewable systems, about energy resources and a bit of energy economics. It will be a perfect trailer for the movie ahead.

2nd year: From 2nd year onwards, you will start having your own department courses. In the second year you will be taught a few of the energy science related courses such as mechanics of materials, material science, thermodynamics, Transport phenomena( essentially fluid mechanics+ heat transfer+ mass transfer) ,electrical machines, basic electrical and electronics engineering etc. Note that most of these courses are vast in themselves but they have been modified to suit the needs of energy engineers and are taught accordingly. You will also have a lab which will teach you to handle electrical equipments. In order to widen the curriculum we also have courses from environment and economics. In this year you will have one engineering related course: energy resources, economics and environment and another course from math’s department namely numerical analysis which is a must for most engineers.

3rd year: It offers a blend of energy science and energy engineering courses. You will have some energy science courses based on power electronics, combustion and labs related to these courses. Most of the courses will be engineering related such as power systems, reaction engineering, thermos-fluid devices, thermal and fluid engineering lab, solar lab, power generation and system planning etc. You will also be required to take 2 electives (of course of your choice from the list) which can be science or engineering based as per your interests. In the 5th semester you will be required to do a course from philosophy, literature, psychology, sociology which will be interesting (believe me!!) and it is compulsory for the entire institute.

4th year: In the 4th year you will have very few core courses but you will be required to do a plethora of electives. Most of the electives for our department are courses which are advanced level courses of the energy science courses or are application based energy engineering courses such as solar photovoltaics, wind energy, nuclear energy, fuel cells, hydrogen energy, waste to energy, electrochemical energy storage solar thermal, microgrids etc. The core courses will be related to energy systems modelling, optimization and to energy management. Note that most of the electives (if application based) have a course project which makes the course interesting and updates you with the latest research in that field. Apart from these you will be required to do a seminar (it basically teaches you to conduct literature survey for research and you are guided by a professor on the topic that you choose from the topics that have been floated), innovation lab and energy design project which are project based courses and teach you to apply your learnt concepts to solve a problem of not only academic but also industrial relevance.

5th year: You are required to do 2 electives and a dual degree project (DDP). The dual degree project is basically research work and you present your thesis at the end of the year. In your DDP you will be guided by a professor (mostly from DESE, but you may have a co-guide from other department) whom you choose as your guide and it is an integral part of the dual degree program across all departments. It is just like the M-tech thesis that master students are required to submit at the end of their tenure.

What after you are an Energy Science Engineer?

First of all, disclaimer that the following answer would be based on my limited information and thinking, and affected by my biases.

I think that energy department is quite different from other engineering departments: in the way that the breadth our department offers is quite vast, and much of it is left for a student to discover via the electives. A student can develop his degree according to general fields and profiles they're yearning for.

As far as the options go, I think one of the options which a student can choose is further research. Our department is lucky in that easy, because many of the fields involved bin energy are very quickly moving and upcoming. Fields like material science related to PV and electrochemical devices is going to remain very hot, and fields like fluid-thermal engineering are still evergreen with all the new kinds of improvements and operation in power plants and hot/cold fluid storage systems. With added renewables and new kind of devices, incorporating these in the grid is also getting a lot of attention.

Apart from research, most students who want to go for jobs after being an energy engineer are also various. There are noncore jobs which don't really much depend on engineering, so these are kind of common and dependent on how student chooses to develop themselves over their stay at IITB kind of apart from just the department. These may include profiles like finance. Then there are coding profiles, about which I would say our department doesn't really have much coding involved in the compulsory curriculum nor is it present in many of the electives, so a student has to develop those skills if they wish for and are interested in such profile.

Then there are consulting jobs, where although a student would have to prepare by themselves for these, some courses in our department, even compulsory courses, share a DNA of analyzing complicated systems, not always involving just scientific and engineering elements but social aspects as well, and that would certainly be beneficial and a student can pursue such a path.

On a slightly similar note, impact of various policies is also discussed here and there, and (may not be immediately or of the campus) one can also try and get into policy making, especially by taking some courses/projects in CTARA which are related. This kind of thinking mechanism is also helpful in some parts of Management, and a student can choose to work in the field of energy (or some other field) after pursuing management after the degree.

As for the core jobs, there are many startups coming up in the field of especially renewables, microgrids etc., and students can look forward to those (or they can form their own startups and look forward to recruiting other students! :P). There's research going on in the topics mentioned some paragraphs ago in big companies as well.

The main caveat here is that many companies etc yet do not know about our department and program, so they will need some convincing and trying before they give us a thought, but the situation is slowly improving: many companies are knowing our department either directly, or as many other colleges start their programs (not always necessarily through an independent department though) are becoming accustomed to there existing a program in energy (Just that this process is very slow).

Additional information

Q: As an energy engineer, I don't really see how all of this applies to my own life: the power plants, and grid and everything seems so distant from my life! How is energy engineering affecting me directly (not via the way of government decisions and policies and power plant operations etc, which I as a person can't really control)?

A: While it is true that energy engineering involves decisions and operations of big huge things such as various powerplants, the grid of a whole region or nation, or the nationwide policies etc, you can definitely see energy engineering right from your home and daily activities, you just have to know how to look for it. I will present some examples, but they are by no means all-encompassing, so feel free to discover more for yourself! One of the things where you can apply energy engineering can be when you are setting up solar PV on your rooftop and designing that system for your home. Even this may seem distant. But there are things to ponder about even from one's daily life. Take an example of cooking, which is an activity performed in every household. Cooking involves usually combusting gas supplied by your gas company, and the food is cooked. Now some of us use wood instead, and combusting gas and combusting wood are quite different, and require different stoves. Also, these stoves can be improved by minimising the heat wastage by catering the size and shape of the stove, and especially in case of stoves using wood, trying to achieve a cleaner combustion. This is one area where the improvement can directly affect you and your household. Another thing which can be analyzed from energy perspective is your electricity usage. This problem may become much more interesting in the future when time based tariff may be applied. Then you can identify the devices which are consuming most of the electricity, and identify whether they need repairs or servicing - if they're consuming much more than intended, or choose an alternative which will result in minimum energy consumption while buying something. Another area which you can look at is your home, and how sunlight interacts with it. Sunlight is often the major source of lighting (during the day) as well as a major contributor to the heat load of your house - which will determine your heater/fan/air conditioner usage, and by some simple modifications such as a makeshift chajja over your window, you may find that you can make your house more comfortable to live in! Another thing would be to look at your energy consumption habits and see how it affects the amount of energy consumed. As an example, you can analyze how you're driving your car and see if by slightly changing you driving pattern, how you can reach the destination in minimum fuel! So, once you start to look around and ponder, you'll see numerous applications, where you can see and apply whatever you learn in energy engineering and try to improve your own life!

Department Alumni

Pritesh Mittal, Dual Degree, 2014

I clearly remember the days when I was in the dilemma of choosing IIT and branch. Actually they go hand in hand. It’s always a combination of IIT and Branch you get to choose from. Fortunately, for me it was simpler. I spoke to lot of people – seniors and alumni and was sure that I want to join IIT Bombay, no matter what! I guess, the sheer explore and the kind of people you meet at IIT Bombay outweighs everything else – at least for me it did!

Choosing a department is a very personal choice. It comes via gut feeling, perceptions and the rank (choices) you hold. Energy department started just one year prior I joined. During counselling, I spoke to my seniors about the course curriculum and the future options it would provide to me. Let me break everything down for you:

1. Course Curriculum: The department offers a mixed curriculum of Chemical, Mechanical and a few courses of Electrical. You also get the freedom to choose courses from other departments as per your interests. Overall, I would say that I really enjoyed the course curriculum.

2. Future opportunities: For any branch in IIT Bombay, the future options depend on your overall performance throughout 4/5 years you spend here. Except Computer Science and Electrical, it is hardly dependent on the branch. So, don’t even worry about this. Energy as a department provides you interesting post graduate and PHD opportunities.

3. Academic Load: Average!

4. Faculty: Extremely supportive. I still remember reaching out to the faculties for anything to everything. In Hindsight, I feel that it was very stupid of me to reach out to faculties for everything but they always motivated me. I was always interested in starting up on my own. They always encouraged me to attend various events in and around Mumbai. Got me several connections. As a result of this support, I today have a startup NearFox. J

5. Extracurricular: Since the academic load is average, you will get sufficient amount of time to explore your interests.

Overall, Energy is a good department to opt for! Still as I mentioned in the beginning, choosing a department and IIT is a very personal choice. You should talk to lot of people before making a final decision.


Regards,
Pritesh Mittal
B.Tech, M.Tech - IIT Bombay
Co-Founder - NearFox
https://nearfox.com


Department Activities

Helios

"Helios", the annual fest of DESE, aspires to ripen into a platform that threads students to interact, discuss and debate on matters related to upcoming energy scenarios and the key issues that concern its future. It comprises an instigating combination of competitions, exhibition, lecture series and workshop that are beyond ordinary and promise to be a rejuvenating experience for each and every participant.

Energy Day

The day-long event will feature technical presentations and interactive posters on wide variety of topics like Microgrids, Solar Photovoltaics, Solar Thermal Technologies, Battery and Storage, Fuel Cells, Power converters and Transformers and many more by passing out students of Dual Degree, M.Tech and Ph.D programs. The proceedings will commence with an inauguration ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Energy Day also brings panel discussion for you on "Grid Parity of Renewables in an era of low oil prices".