Joining electrical engineering department at IIT Bombay for post-graduation?

Still enjoying success in GATE? Well, it’s a good time now to come out of your shell and start preparing yourself for some engineering work before your success do some permanent damage to you. GATE (or any examination) tests theoretical knowledge and has little to do with skills. I have had some classmates who could not even compile a program and had great percentile in GATE. Mere theoretical knowledge is not a replacement of real engineering skills. It is a truism that skills rarely counts for anything when it comes to admissions on our technical universities. But is it a good reason for not acquiring skills at all? What I mean to say that GATE or JEE or any competitive examination test only how fast you can do menial mental calculations. It has nothing to do with creativity and skills which are of great importance in real world for solving some real time problems. To draw an analogy, knowing the theory of how to hit a ball in the game of cricket does not make anyone a good batsman. Theory helps but it really takes practice to master any skill.

Familiarize yourself with Linux. All labs runs on Linux server here. Install some Linux distribution such as Ubuntu or Fedora on your computer and practise some tutorials, especially related with terminal and networking. How to login to other computers using ‘ssh’, how to compile and run programs in Linux environment, etc. Some of it, you can learn on the job during your stay in IIT Bombay but not everything can be learned on job. You should not be doing much these days anyway expect for finding out your classmates and comparing your rank with theirs, right? Pick a general purpose language, it will serve you all of your life. Programming language is a way to tell computer what to do and everyone uses computer in engineering. I’d recommend Python. It is easy to learn. It wouldn’t hurt if you learn Latex as well. 
Those who are joining in Microelectronics and VLSI should brush up their HDL skills. Control and computation people should learn Scilab. It would also help if you brush up your analog and digital electronics. Micro-electronics is all about MOS-FETs and other semiconductor devices. More you know about them is better for you. First semester is going to be hectic, I don’t expect that you will find the time to learn any of these skills during that time. And after first two semesters are over, students gets into ‘kya fart hai’ mode and rarely do much in their projects. They don’t want to learn skills which takes much more time than theory; and without skills little gets done in projects. The vicious cycle is complete. 
There’s nothing wrong being a nerd and been seen like one. Students often ridicule those who show more than normal interests in their studies. You should learn to take it into your stride and learn how to ignore those loud and aggressive classmates who have much to say about nothing. Unfortunately, there are just so many of them. You must make sure before when you get out of IIT, you acquire minimum amount of skills. Don’t go out there with wrong fundamentals and little skills. Real world is a big bad wolf. It does not pay you for your ability to darken the correct bubble on ORS sheet, it pays you because you are skilled enough to do something. Think about it. 

Author: Dilawar

Graduate Student at National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore.

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