The year 2020 will be defined in history by the name of the pandemic created by COVID19. We all are experiencing situations that we have never experienced before. ‘Lockdown’, ‘sanitizer’,

‘face mask’, ‘social distancing’, ‘digital platform’, ‘work from home’, etc. are presently some of the buzzwords wandering around us. Every situation carries with it some positive as well as

negative effects. It depends on the person, how he looks at the situation. I believe this pandemic situation also brought with it lots of opportunities for us.

As a faculty of a prestigious self-financed Engineering College of Assam, Girijananda

Chowdhury Institute of Management and Technology (GIMT), this pandemic forced me to adopt the virtual reality. In virtual reality, an artificial environment is created in such a way that it can be accepted as a real environment where communication is done only through two senses: sight and sound. This medium of communication is more efficient, secured, and transparent too. So the process of learning is not stopped for us even when the outside world seems to be static. We along with students are using this virtual medium to attend webinars, learn the latest skills, do video conferencing, and carry out training programs along with doing regular classes online. I found the new environment is not restricted to the four walls of the classroom but extends to the corners of the world. I have found that my duty hour is not restricted to a mere 8 hours per day instead I have the flexibility to use the entire 24 hours of the day. I found my students too doing and enjoying the same. The practices we are forced to adopt during these days will soon become a habit for all of us and the related demand and requirements will lift the technology to another level in the post-pandemic era. So here we need to prepare ourselves for the post COVID period where there may arise lots of opportunities for technically skilled and trained people in various fields.

Here some of the opportunities that may grow to peak after pandemic:

  1. The stay-at-home and social distancing policy around the world during this period has enforced people to work remotely and online learning in full swing where the only requirement is the high-speed internet connectivity. COVID-19 has forced the telecom industry to strengthen the existing broadband capacity and availability to support its consumer demands. Even many service providers have already offered additional bandwidth to handle the crisis. One of the positive outcomes of this pandemic is the stronger demand for 5G replacing the present broadband infrastructure. So it may be expected that post-Covid19 period could be a significant period for 5G build-out progress in telecommunication industries along with the demand for skilled Communication Engineers to tackle this new technology.
  2. To launch the 5G, additional compatible infrastructure may necessary. Hardware 5G productions like phone, chips, antenna, high capacity optical fiber cable, and routers will be in demand for completing the setup of the 5G service. All these requirements will generate opportunities for the Electronics and Communication Engineers skilled with electronic designing tools in the associated industries.
  3. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, several companies have understood the economic benefits of work from home. They may continue this policy afterwards also. This has fueled the electronics market to experience a 40-45% increase in the demands for laptop, tablet, smartphones, etc. Even monitors, Wi-Fi routers, laptop tables, surge protectors, and spike guards are in huge demand in the market and it will continue after the pandemic is over. The related industries are expected to flourish in the long run of time.
  4. Identification of a bacterial or viral infection turns out to be the main task in the health sector during the current pandemic. Technologies are in demand with enhanced accuracy and speed for such analysis. Biochips are developed that can do a complete microbial scan in a couple of hours. Even the need for identifying mutations that make microbes antibiotic-resistant is also there. This demand is not going to end up with pandemic but continue to be there afterwards. Technologies related to automatic genetic analysis are open for exploration for Bioelectronics engineers. Soon portable digital tools are going to take position in the diagnostic centers for accurate and speedy analysis. The days are not far when health care will be delivered in a real-world mixed with the virtual world. Web-based portals will be in use to analyze and monitor the patients’ vital signs. Electronic gadgets are getting popularity among people that can track blood pressure, activity, and other factors as self-care tools. This is going to widen the scope for doing research and development in the field of Biomedical Electronics.
  5. Analysts said that the coronavirus outbreaks has changed the consumer preference and opens up opportunities for automation. Automation is a new concept of technology where control systems are used for operating various processes with minimum human assistants. It reduces human errors and increases productivity tremendously. The pandemic has just speeded up this requirement. With the health expert’s comment that social distancing may be needed to be in place for the coming years, automation of various processes in manufacturing industries will be in greater demand in the coming years. Uses of robots in various industries as well as health sectors are also coming in view recently. Simultaneously there will be an increased requirement for trained Electronic Engineers who can develop the automation algorithm as well as related hardware that may embed artificial intelligence into a machine.
  6. Social distancing, lockdown, etc. during the pandemic have led the consumers to incline towards online shopping, resulting in spikes in e-commerce. Small scale producers, sellers, and consumers in developing countries also have started to adopt the policies of e-commerce to alleviate the loss during the time. The government has also taken a lot of measures to encourage digital transactions, mobile money transfer as well as e-commerce. This has emphasized the need for efficient and affordable information and communication technology services along with digital tools for easy money transfer to keep the e-commerce in the right track. A trained Engineer may help here.
Representative image.

The list does not end here. The coronavirus outbreak in China has prompted global firms presently in China to look for new manufacturing destination for the future. Several industries have realized the negative aspect of being excessively dependent on a single country for manufacturing and decided to spread their reach to other parts of the world. India has been already considered as a viable alternative destination by those global firms and had already initiated talks to pursue production plans in India in sectors like Electronics, Medical Devices, IT sectors, etc. Creating a favorable environment with a cluster of buyers, sellers, technology, and skilled workers India may turn into the next global manufacturing hub. It will increase opportunities manyfold for skilled graduates. So keep on learning because a bright future is waiting for all technical graduates.

(The author is an Associate Professor at the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering, Girijananda Chowdhury Institute of Management and Technology (GIMT), Guwahati)

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