The SCRA scheme was started in 1927 by the British, to select a handful of most intelligent Indians to assist them in their Railway Operations, after training at their Railway's largest workshop, i.e. Jamalpur Workshop, and for one year in United Kingdom. The selected candidates were required to appear in the Mechanical Engineering Degree Exmination held by Engineering Council (London).
Since then, the few admission seats for one of the country's first engineering college have always been hotly contested, with as many as 1 to 1.5 lakh candidates taking the entrance examination, now conducted by UPSC, for about 10 seats.That translates into an astonishing ratio of 1 selection per 10,000 applicants
The scheme has continued to draw the country's best talent after independence and has provided Indian Railways with its top-ranking officers in all walks. Many of the Institute's alumni have won international accolade for having acheived excellence in their chosen careers, which include inventors, academicians, entrepreneurs, and high-ranking officers in other nations.
The examination comprises written test in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English Language, General Knowledge, and Psychological Test (Mental Ability). The selected candidates are called for an interview, which is followed by a medical examination. The standard of syllabus is that of Class XII (CBSE equivalent).
The notice for the SCRA entrance examination, along with form and syllabus, is brought out by the UPSC around the months of June-July. According to the new rules issued by the Ministry of Railways, the exam is now conducted once in every two years.
The selected candidates undergo a four-year rigorous training programme in Mechanical Engineering, for which the Institute has a Memorandum of Understanding with BIT, Mesra, Ranchi. The semester system of BIT, Mesra is followed, with workshop training sessions during the holidays at BIT, Mesra.
The apprentices get a stipend of Rs. 9100 with Dearness Allowance, apart from medical benefits, privelege passes and PTOs.
After successful completion of four years of training, the candidates join as Indian Railway Services of Mechanical Engineers (IRSME) Officers in Indian Railways to face a challanging and satisfying career.