It is again that time of the year when students who’ve qualified what is purportedly the toughest exam to crack in the world, grapple with the question of where to go to. It has been even more difficult to answer this question since the inception of the newer IITs. Through this post, I hope to break some myths students may have about the newer IITs, in particular Hyderabad. (This will be perhaps more useful to EE-inclined people but there is info about the general IITH experience as well)
Personally, my three-digit AIR afforded me quite some luxury, and a lot of people used to ask me as to why I chose IIT Hyderabad over the older ones. I did not want to compromise on my branch and go to an older IIT. And at the older IITs, I would only get dual-degree EE courses and didn’t like the idea of selecting a specialization then itself. It also helped that Hyderabad was my hometown. Thinking back, to say the least, I am highly satisfied with my decision. It has been such a huge learning curve for me and I never really felt I was deprived of something just because I was at a newer institute.
First things first – for those who do not know, EE at IIT Hyderabad (and at most IITs in general) is a combination of both EEE and ECE, the branches you may have heard your friends/kin studying. So if you chose EE, you can opt to study Power systems, Control/Optimization, Signal Processing, Communications, VLSI or microelectronics. Essentially, there’s a vast array of specializations to choose from and it is more likely than not that you will develop interest for least one of them, if not more!
It should be common knowledge now that newer IITs provide great opportunities in terms of being able to don important managerial positions. I had myself been a Gymkhana Secretary and one of the coordinators in IITH’s fest Elan. These managerial experiences really help in building character, since you’ll invariably work in teams, and there’d be a lot to be learnt from each of the other team members. I still vividly remember some of the debates we had during weekly Gymkhana meetings. Over a period, they bring a lot of change in our outlook and general perception of things. I can go on and on about how much I learnt from those two stints.
The EE department at IIT Hyderabad has an enviable set of professors. Again, I wish there were enough space to write about the awesomeness of some of them! It has many big-name research projects such as CPS, DISANET, GENIUS, WSN with KDDI etc. The professors are also very willing to engage the undergrad students in research, which is particularly important to those who’d like to pursue higher studies and to an extent, even for bagging core jobs. We have great facilities for EE dept students – CPS lab, Power and Control labs, High Performance Computing facility, Speech and Image Processing Lab, Immersive Multimedia and Telepresence Lab (which houses one of the costliest 3D screens on the planet – worth about 2 crore rupees), Fabrication facility etc. In fact, the fabrication center offers better facilities than the one at IIT Bombay (partly since it is a newer one). This reflects in the fact that some postgraduate students at IITB come over for the fab unit here (Some of these things about newer equipment hold true even for other branches such as Mech). Being a new IIT helps IITH in that the infrastructure and facilities here are state-of-the-art. That is one BIG advantage. This, along with empowering students with the ability to influence a budding institute’s culture and history really make a very good case for newer IITs.
One of the biggest complaints about Indian college education is that it is not very flexible. At IIT Hyderabad, the management has pioneered a lot of academic changes, such as introducing Fractional Credit Courses to make curriculum very flexible. You can also choose to minor in CS, EE, Math, Entrepreneurship etc., in addition to your major field of study.
The single most important thing that students are concerned about – the placements – have been very good with core companies like Qualcomm, Broadcomm, Nvidia Graphics, HP, Redpine Signals, Texas Instruments hiring students, both for internships and jobs. Even students headed to higher studies in EE have been selected to reputed schools such as Stanford University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, U of Texas at Austin, U California San Diego, U Southern California, U Wisconsin Madison, Rice U, Johns Hopkins U, Yale, Purdue, EPFL etc., to name a few. This signifies the quality of research being imparted at the undergrad level itself. It is very difficult to get into these schools, if not for the kind of projects done at undergrad in IITH. There are also people who have taken the management path and are now at places like IIMs and London School of Economics.
Of course, there is no dearth of fun at an IIT. There are a lot of hobby clubs here too, that host weekly quizzes, movies and other merry activities. You really don’t have to bother about the possibility of missing out on fun, trust me. Did I forget to mention the multitude of technical clubs that are here to keep you engrossed on interesting projects for competitions and fests? We have also made our foot print at inter-IIT sports, winning Bronze in football – no mean feat for a newer IIT! And do you know that we won the first inter-IIT technical meet that was held earlier this year – again quite an achievement!
In summary, I would suggest not to compromise on your branch of interest, because that is what you’ll most likely end up working with day in day out someday. I know you may not know a lot about the specifics of each branch. But in my experience, being amused about mobile phones, computer chips etc and hence choosing EE actually works!
P.S.: I know it is very difficult to cover every aspect of IITH that would be relevant to an admission seeker in one blog post. Given the time constraints (30th June is the deadline, right?) I’ve put in my best efforts. I’d be glad if this article has gone any distance in helping someone with their decision. By the way, remember to read this once you enroll somewhere.