Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Careers in defence science

Defence is not just about soldiers braving the enemy in battle tanks, fighter planes or battleships, scientists and engineers have an equal contribution towards making our borders and our soldiers that much safer. A number of scientists and technicians work day and night in laboratories to make life less difficult for the man behind the machine.

Warrior Science
Kanika Tandon

Says Dr G. Ilavazhagan, Director, Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences (DIPAS), New Delhi, one of the life sciences lab of DRDO, "Soldiers have to perform under high mental and physical stress. Our aim is to make sure that they not only survive those harsh conditions, but also sustain themselves and perform well in such extreme situations."

The field of defence research calls for capacity-building in design, development and delivery of military systems and critical defence equipments like missiles, Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA), Main Battle Tanks (MBT), armaments and so on.

But that’s not all. Defence research could get you working on how to create a superior missile or naval system. Or, you could be sitting in a laboratory and working on how to prevent frostbites so that the defence personnel posted in Siachen or Leh can be saved from its ill-effects. You could also be devising psychological tests to help decide who would better suit a particular post in the defence services.

Candidates are hired through a UPSC exam to undertake ordnance production that itself has undergone a sea change with the changing requirements of defence services. To become a research and development professional in the defence sector, you need a first-class master’s degree in any subject of science or technology. Candidates are selected on the basis of the Scientist Entry Test (SET) and Registration of Students With Scholastic Aptitudes (ROSSA). DRDO has special tie-ups with the IITs and major universities all across the country for campus recruitments. Starting monthly salary is around Rs 34,000 in the government sector. In the private sector, you could be making Rs 1-2 lakh per month in a two-five years’ time frame.