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    Think of how soft drinks and ice creams fill into a cup or cone exactly until it's full, or how traffic lights work in the exact time interval over and over, or how alarms are activated in the event of a fire or smoke. In all of these examples, the instruments were intricately designed and monitored by instrumentation engineers. What is an instrumentation engineer? He or she plans, designs, constructs and maintains an instrumentation system. They work in all kinds of fields and mainly deal with the instrumentation of processes in places like refineries and chemical plants where they select, specify and purchase the instruments required, from simple pressure gauges to complex distributed control systems. They engage themselves in the development of the process and control diagrams and work closely with their counterparts in the client's task force and also in the final reviews. They are part of the startup team that commissions the plant.

    What is IN?

    Instrumentation Engineering is a collective term for measuring instruments that are used for indicating, measuring and recording physical quantities such as flow, temperature, level, distance, angle, or pressure. The term has its origins in the art and science of scientific instrument-making. All of these can be interdependent variables in a single processing require a complex microprocessor system for total control. Due to more advancement in technology and the efficient measurement techniques instruments that we are using today may be obsolete in future.

    Instrumentation can refer to devices as simple as direct-reading thermometers, or as complex as multi-sensor components of industrial control systems. Today, instruments can be found in laboratories, refineries, factories and vehicles, as well as in everyday household use (e.g., smoke detectors and thermostats)

    Syllabus for IN.

    The subjects in Instrumentation Engineering (IN) are divided into 9 broad sections – Engineering Mathematics, Measurements, Analog Electronics, Electrical Circuits, Control Systems, Digital Electronics, Signal and Systems, Sensors, and Industrial Instrumentations & Communication and Optical Instrumentation.

    Engineering Mathematics

    Linear Algebra : Matrix algebra, systems of linear equations, Eigen values and Eigen vectors.

    Calculus : Mean value theorems, theorems of integral calculus, partial derivatives, maxima and minima, multiple integrals, Fourier series, vector identities, line, surface and volume integrals, Stokes, Gauss and Green’s theorems.

    Differential equations : First order equation (linear and nonlinear), higher order linear differential equations with constant coefficients, method of variation of parameters, Cauchy’s and Euler’s equations, initial and boundary value problems, solution of partial differential equations: variable separable method.

    Probability and Statistics : Sampling theorems, conditional probability, mean, median, mode and standard deviation, random variables, discrete and continuous distributions: normal, Poisson and binomial distributions.

    Numerical Methods : Matrix inversion, solutions of non-linear algebraic equations, iterative methods for solving differential equations, numerical integration, regression and correlation analysis.

    Electrical Circuits

    Voltage and current sources: independent, dependent, ideal and practical; v-i relationships of resistor, inductor, mutual inductor and capacitor; transient analysis of RLC circuits with dc excitation.

    Kirchoff’s laws, mesh and nodal analysis, superposition, Thevenin, Norton, maximum power transfer and reciprocity theorems.

    Peak-, average- and rms values of ac quantities; apparent-, active- and reactive powers; phasor analysis, impedance and admittance; series and parallel resonance, locus diagrams, realization of basic filters with R, L and C elements.

    One-port and two-port networks, driving point impedance and admittance, open-, and short circuit parameters.

    Signals and Systems

    Periodic, aperiodic and impulse signals; Laplace, Fourier and z-transforms; transfer function, frequency response of first and second order linear time invariant systems, impulse response of systems; convolution, correlation. Discrete time system: impulse response, frequency response, pulse transfer function; DFT and FFT; basics of IIR and FIR filters.

    Control Systems

    Feedback principles, signal flow graphs, transient response, steady-state-errors, Bode plot, phase and gain margins, Routh and Nyquist criteria, root loci, design of lead, lag and lead-lag compensators, state-space representation of systems; time-delay systems; mechanical, hydraulic and pneumatic system components, synchro pair, servo and stepper motors, servo valves; on-off, P, P-I, P-I-D, cascade, feedforward, and ratio controllers.

    Analog Electronics

    Characteristics and applications of diode, Zener diode, BJT and MOSFET; small signal analysis of transistor circuits, feedback amplifiers. Characteristics of operational amplifiers; applications of opamps: difference amplifier, adder, subtractor, integrator, differentiator, instrumentation amplifier, precision rectifier, active filters and other circuits. Oscillators, signal generators, voltage controlled oscillators and phase locked loop.

    Digital Electronics

    Combinational logic circuits, minimization of Boolean functions. IC families: TTL and CMOS. Arithmetic circuits, comparators, Schmitt trigger, multi-vibrators, sequential circuits, flip-flops, shift registers, timers and counters; sample-and-hold circuit, multiplexer, analog-to-digital (successive approximation, integrating, flash and sigma-delta) and digital-to-analog converters (weighted R, R-2R ladder and current steering logic). Characteristics of ADC and DAC (resolution, quantization, significant bits, conversion/settling time); basics of number systems, 8-bit microprocessor and microcontroller: applications, memory and input-output interfacing; basics of data acquisition systems.

    Measurements

    SI units, systematic and random errors in measurement, expression of uncertainty -accuracy and precision index, propagation of errors. PMMC, MI and dynamometer type instruments; dc potentiometer; bridges for measurement of R, L and C, Q-meter. Measurement of voltage, current and power in single and three phase circuits; ac and dc current probes; true rms meters, voltage and current scaling, instrument transformers, timer/counter, time, phase and frequency measurements, digital voltmeter, digital multimeter; oscilloscope, shielding and grounding.

    Sensors and Industrial Instrumentation

    Resistive-, capacitive-, inductive-, piezoelectric-, Hall effect sensors and associated signal conditioning circuits; transducers for industrial instrumentation: displacement (linear and angular), velocity, acceleration, force, torque, vibration, shock, pressure (including low pressure), flow (differential pressure, variable area, electromagnetic, ultrasonic, turbine and open channel flow meters) temperature (thermocouple, bolometer, RTD (3/4 wire), thermistor, pyrometer and semiconductor); liquid level, pH, conductivity and viscosity measurement.

    Communication and Optical Instrumentation

    Amplitude- and frequency modulation and demodulation; Shannon’s sampling theorem, pulse code modulation; frequency and time division multiplexing, amplitude-, phase-, frequency-, pulse shift keying for digital modulation; optical sources and detectors: LED, laser, photo-diode, light dependent resistor and their characteristics; interferometer: applications in metrology; basics of fiber optic sensing.

    How to prepare for it?

    The dream is not what you see in sleep, dream is which does not let you sleep. – Dr. ABJ Kalam.

    Below listed are some tips and tricks, for a GATE aspirant, to crack the exam with flying colours:

    Struggles makes a man achieve success 

    Practice on a regular basis to solve problems and clear doubts. It is rightly said that perfection comes out of practice. Take help of previous year questions to practice regularly to polish your preparation. Solving mock papers and sample papers will provide an additional help. The number of questions solved by you will directly be proportional to the results achieved.

    Time is precious, use it wisely.

    Time management is the key to any success. Time is precious and ones lost can never be recovered again. Time management skills are must while preparing for any exam. It is important to devote your time to all the important topics. In the exam hall also, managing time is as important as knowing the answers. Working hard day and night is required but giving time to yourself to relax your brain and body is also equally necessary.

    Nothing is Impossible, the word itself says, “I M (am) Possible”

    Nothing is impossible if you work hard with a combination of dedication and efforts. Do not let yourself get demotivated. Feed yourself with spoons of motivation as a positive attitude is an advantageous tip for the preparation. Do not lose hope even if you find it difficult to cope up sometimes. De-stress yourself whenever required.