How can engineers join Indian Armed Forces? (UES, TGC, SSC Tech, SNAES, AFCAT)

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All of us have dreamt of wearing the defense uniform one day. We once raised our hands when the teacher asked if you wish to defend our nation. Those heavy boots were always a matter of pride. Then, something happened. We grew up. We lost hold of our dreams. We joined engineering. Machines became our friends. 

Do you still have that dream hidden somewhere inside your heart? Then, it’s not over yet.

I’m not talking about going back in your career and starting from zero again. I’m not asking you to give up engineering. What if I tell you that your technical knowledge can also get you inside the defence forces?

So, what am I talking about?

Today, technology is ruling the world. Wars are not just about men any more, it’s the machines. The one with the best technology will always have an upper hand. It’s not just the men who fight with arms, but also the men who support them using their technical skills win wars for us. So, if you wish to be one of them, you’ve opportunities to be part of the technical wing of Indian defence forces and use your engineering skills to guard our nation.

Now, how can engineers join Indian defence force?

First, you need to figure out what you want to do. Do you wish to be a sea warrior? Or do you dream of fixing a fighter jet one day? Or is it the Indian army that interests you? As we all know, Indian armed force has three wings. Namely, the Indian Army, the Indian Airforce and the Indian Navy. While the Indian army is the land-based wing, Air Force and Navy are the air and ocean arms respectively. Let’s look at the ways an engineer can get into these three wings.

How to join Indian Army after engineering?

Indian army is one of the largest land-based forces in the world. It maintains a highly skilled technical wing which supports the troops on the field. Engineers are required for various positions in the Indian army.

So, what are the careers in Indian army after engineering?

If you get through to the Indian Army, you will be assigned to different technical branches based on your area of expertise and individual skills. Most engineers who come through technical entry modes will be allotted to these three branches

Corps of Engineers

Most army officers who get allotted to this wing are civil engineers. Their job is to provide mobility for incoming troops and cripple the advancements of the enemy.

Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers

As the name suggests, engineers from electrical and mechanical backgrounds get commissioned to this branch. The role can include design, development, inspection and maintenance of army equipment.

Corps of Signals

Engineers from electrical, E&C and telecommunication backgrounds are commissioned to this branch. They take care of all communications related aspects of the Army.

Other than these three branches, you can also be sent to arms such as Armour (tanks), Artillery, Ordnance, and Army Air Defence, and Army Aviation.

Here, you’ve to take note of one very important point. You get recruited to the army under two types of contracts. Short service commission and permanent commission.

Types of contract

Under short service commission, your contract will be for 10 years. You will have the option to extend it for 4 more years.

Under permanent commission, your contract tenure will be for a maximum of 30 years. In some posts under short service commission, you will be able to apply for permanent commission towards the end of your contract tenure.

Now, how to get in?

Indian army recruits engineering students for their technical wing through three main routes.

University entry scheme (UES)

You must have seen tech companies coming to your college or university for campus placements. All three wings of Indian Armed forces follows a similar procedure to recruit engineers for their technical wing. Yes, you heard it right. Under UES scheme, Indian Army organises recruitment processes in universities. If you are in your pre-final year of engineering, you will have a chance to appear for UES entry. If shortlisted, you can directly appear for SSB selection process. As the process is not conducted by UPSC, you don’t have to write any exam. Isn’t that great?

So, who can take part in this selection process?

Unfortunately, only male candidates can apply for UES entry. Your age should be between 19 and 24. You academic performance in the last 6 semesters should be above the cut off marks set by the army and you need to meet all the physical and medical standards.

Now, how to get in through UES entry?

The Indian Army will either organise a recruitment drive in your university or they will put up a notification inviting candidates to appear for the UES recruitment process. If you’re applying online, you will have to select your college or the nearest college. You will get an invitation to take part in the screening process. The process consists of group discussions and personal interviews. List of the shortlisted candidates will be published by the university. This selection happens under Short Service Commission. But you’ll have an opportunity to apply for permanent commission towards the end of your term. 

Let’s say your pre-final year is already done. You are not eligible for UES entry. Now, you got two other routes left. One is TGC entry and the other is SSC tech entry.

TGC entry

If you’re a Btech graduate or is in the final year of engineering, you can start applying for Technical Graduate Course (TGC) entry. Every year Indian Army invites applications for their Technical graduate courses which happen at Indian Military Academy. If you make it through the selection process, you will join the military with the officer’s rank.

So, who can try TGC entry?

Again, only male candidates can apply for TGC entry and your age should be between 22 and 27. As per the latest TGC 129 notification, you can apply if you belong to any of the below mentioned field. Civil/Architecture/Mechanical/Electrical / Electrical & Electronics/Computer Science & Engineering /Computer Technology/ Information Technology/ M. Sc Computer Science/Electronics & Telecom/Telecommunication/ Electronics & Communication/ Satellite Communication/Electronics/Electronics & Instrumentation/Instrumentation/Aeronautical/ Ballistics/Avionics.

So, why join Indian army through TGC entry?

TGC entry is the most popular route for engineers. If you get through TGC entry, your training period will be only for one year. You will also have one-year Ante Date Seniority if you’ve and engineering degree from a recognized university. And unlike UES, you will get permanent commision through TGC entry.

Now, how to get in through TGC scheme?

Wait for TGC notification. The selection process happens twice a year. You will be shortlisted on the basis of your academic performance. Yeah, your marks matters. The next round will be the SSB screening process. If selected, you will start training in the Indian Military Academy.

SSC Tech entry

Finally, a gender friendly scheme. Unlike the recruitment schemes I mentioned earlier, both male and female candidates can apply for SSC Tech entry. If selected, the candidates will be sent to the Officers Training Academy. They will undergo training for one and a half years. On successful completion of the training process, you will join the Indian Army’s technical wing as officers. Under SSC Tech entry, candidates will be eligible for short service commission.

So, who can apply for SSC Tech entry?

Your age should be between 20-27 years. You should either be an engineering graduate from the notified field or should be doing your final year of Btech/BE in that field. You should also meet all the physical and medical standards.

How to get in through SSC Tech?

This recruitment process happens twice a year. Wait for SSC Tech recruitment notifications. Apply under SSC Tech category. You will be graded on the basis of your academic performance. If shortlisted, you will receive SSB interview call letter. If recommended by the SSB, pack your bags.

These are the technical entry options available to Engineers in the Indian Army. Now, let’s look at the other two wings.

How to join Indian Navy after engineering?

If your wish was to be a sea warrior, here are your routes to fulfil that dream.

UES Scheme

Again, they know where to find you. For Engineers, the most popular route other than NDA is through UES entry. Navy’s recruitment process under UES scheme is the same as the Indian Army’s. So, if you’re in your pre-final year, you can go with the same steps I mentioned earlier. The preferred streams of engineering will differ a little on the basis of Navy requirements. Candidates with electrical and naval architecture background have higher chances to get in. If selected, you will join in technical and executive roles in Information technology, aviation control and submarine.

SNAES Scheme

The Indian government has recently given approval for the special scheme of ‘Special Naval Architects Entry Scheme’ (SNAES) for recruitments to Indian Navy. Under this scheme, candidates are inducted as Naval Architect officers in the Naval Architecture Cadre of the Engineering Branch of the Indian Navy.  The selected candidates will be inducted as Short Service Commission Officers.

So, how does SNAES process happen?

Again, you’ll get picked from your campus. The Indian Navy conducts SNAES recruitment drive in recognized Indian universities that conduct BTech Naval architecture. For the purpose of campus interviews, a naval team visits IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and Andhra University. Shortlisted candidates will be taken to military hospitals for medical examination and is then selected for training if they meet the medical standards.

How can you join Indian Air force after engineering?

Now, let’s talk about our flying wing. The Indian air force has three wings. The flying squad, the ground squad and the technical squad. Engineering students can join the technical wing in two ways.

UES Entry

Even Airforce follows the same procedure for campus recruitment.

Pre-final students can apply for under UES entry to be recruited into the technical wing of Indian Air Force. If selected, the initial training of candidates will be conducted at the Airforce academy. Later, they will be sent to Air Force Technical College in Bangalore for further studies.

AFCAT Entry

AFCAT is the biggest recruitment drive conducted by Indian Air Force for recruiting officers to different branches. It happens twice a year. Both men and women can attempt AFCAT tests. Though AFCAT happens for all branches under Indian Air Force, candidates who wish to join the technical wing will have to attend Engineering knowledge test (EKT). The selected candidates will join as aeronautical engineers. You got two choices. Aeronautical engineer (Electrical) and Aeronautical engineer (Mechanical). The eligibility criteria and academic preference can differ for both the streams. Both male and female candidates can apply for AFCAT exam if they meet the eligibility criteria.

All of the above-mentioned ways are to get into the technical wing of Indian defence forces. Other than this, you can appear for CDSE exams conducted by UPSC for recruitment to all three wings. Being a graduate, you’re eligible to apply for non-technical branches as well. It’s all about how you wish to serve.  I hope the illustrated analysis have powered up your insights and have widened your perspectives about how an engineer can get into Indian defense services. Always remember that you make your own destiny. Make sure that you invest time and thought before making your life-changing decisions.

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