How TO BECOME A Textile Engg.

 Smart’ textiles are now everywhere: Textile engineers

Four experts give you the lowdown on the rapidly changing field: Dr Kushal Sen, head of the Department of Textile Technology, IIT Delhi, and his colleagues, Professors VK Kothari, Ashwini K Agrawal and PK Banerjee, field questions from Rahat Bano.

 

The field of textile engineering in a nutshell? 
Depending on what is required of a product, you engineer the product based on the fundamental properties of the fiber. Within fibers’, there are so many things. For instance, people are using geo-textiles under the soil to make more durable roads or prevent soil erosion.

Textiles for garments and upholstery are what most people know about, but there are those that we call technical textiles, such as medical textiles, technical textiles, smart textiles. 

The industry has many segments, starting from handloom fabric. In India, only 5 per cent of the industry comprises technical textiles so far.

What are the other emerging areas in this field?
Instead of glass fibers, people are using textile fibres and natural fibres in the automobile industry to make floorboards, trunk liners, and other parts and accessories. 

Big automobile companies like Mercedes, Fiat and BMW are doing research to increase the natural fibre content for easier recycling and to earn carbon credits. Carbon fibre, used in racquets and hockey sticks, for instance, is another area (of application). 

Abroad, the sports industry is a major employer of textile engineers. The non-woven industry is also where textile graduates go and this is developing in India. Then there are smart materials such as mattresses that make you feel warm in winter and cool in summer. Also, the textile industry is very polluting and a person with a textile engineering background can develop processes that use less natural resources, especially water.

Any related job prospects?
Graduates can go for brand management, merchandising and retail management, or for project consultancy. Teaching is another opportunity. Research (in the industry) is opening up as well. Some of the big industries now have R&D divisions. Machine-building is one area that will grow.
 
Tell us something about your curriculum?
Our programme is highly multi-disciplinary. This year, we have introduced  courses like nanotechnology, medical textiles, environment control etc.