Crashing Through the GATE

Are you taking a break to prepare for the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE)? Sit down and ask yourself a few questions. Why do you want to take up the GATE? Is it because you want to get a PSU job or do you wish to study further?

  • If it is for a PSU job, then we are running out of time here. Age limit to apply for a PSU job using GATE score is usually in the late twenties (on average). Find out which companies you are eligible to apply.
  • If you wish to study further, then make absolutely sure this is what you want. When you say “I want to give all my time for preparation because I’m finally understanding and enjoying my subjects“, that is actually a positive sign, and I hope you mean it.

Do not allow negativity around you (family, relatives or friends) to get to you. They may or may not intend to, but your inner guilt is going to make you think you are being looked down by them for not having a job or a career yet. This is very important if you want to remain focused till GATE 2017. Let go of your ego. Let people say what they want. Believe in yourself, and believe in those who believe in you. Let the rest of the world go to hell. Literally.

Next. I’m assuming it has been x years since you graduated from your bachelors degree. Take your time to put together whatever notes or textbooks you have from your undergraduate days. Trust me, they are gold. Also, get 1 or 2 GATE question banks/previous papers collection for your stream, like GK Publishers, Arihant, Wiley Maestro, Made Easy, or any other. (This is to give you an idea of how a GATE question paper is, and/or how they have evolved over the years)

Now for the important part. Make a proper schedule. The keyword is proper. You have 12 months at your disposal. A lot can be achieved in 12 monthsISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) was built in 15 months. So, imagine. Spread out the entire GATE syllabus over the next 9-10 months. Try to finish by November so you can practice paper solving comfortably in the last two months. Use this time to really strengthen your basics. Most universities/colleges you apply using GATE score are likely to have their own written tests/interviews at the time of admissions. This is going to help you later as well.

Don’t go topic to topic (like finishing one topic before going to the next). It is a bad idea and by December, you might feel out of touch with what you covered earlier in March. Instead, spread out topics on a weekly basis. For example, if you are from Mechanical Engineering stream, do Fluid Mechanics and Heat Transfer on Mondays, Machine Design and Strength of Materials on Tuesdays, etc. Try and simulate a college environment at your home, if need be, like having 45-90 minute study periods, lunch break, etc. And yes, Sunday holiday!

Whether or not to get a temporary job while preparing for GATE should entirely be your decision, based on your confidence and comfort levels. Teach as you learn, if that makes you happy. It does not have to be engineering, even high school or middle school tuition will do. As long as you do not lose sight of your goal.

Last but most important, use this year to diversify your skills and strengthen your personality and character. Learn a new language or art. Eat healthy and exercise. Physical fitness goes a long way. Go out on weekends. Improve your self-confidence. It will help you in your higher studies as well as later on (in your professional career as well as personal life). Turn into a completely new (but better) person if you have to but just do it!

I have seen enough success and failure, so you can take my word on this. I am 26 right now (I passed out in 2011). I don’t have a job. I squandered many an opportunity in the last 10-11 years, constantly fighting anxiety and depression (I dropped out twice, out of IISc Bangalore in 2012 and IIT Bombay in 2015, despite having an IQ of 149 and a GATE percentile of 98.9 in 2011). Only I am responsible for where I am today. I bear the guilt of letting my parents down and having to depend on them financially when other people of my age are earning good salaries, buying cars, getting married and settling down. Believe it or not, peer pressure is a big factor in India.

Avoid thinking about the past, regrets, etc. I know you can’t stop entirely, but the more you think about it, the more you are going to be distracted from your focus. So, each time you have a negative thought, just get up from there, maybe take a walk and come back.

Train your mind to think only on the positives. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. Happy studying. 🙂

I shall see you on the other side. Good luck!

That One Interview I Screwed Up

The one interview I distinctly remember for “screwing” it up took place in April 2011. I wrote the GATE exam in my final year of engineering and got a decent score. Well, decent enough to get an interview call for MS in Aerospace Engineering at IIT Madras. I took a couple days leave from college to attend the interview. Mind you, this was in April- in the middle of my final semester.

I showed up at 8:30 am (Reporting time was 9:00 am) for an interview that eventually happened at 5:30 pm. I was the last candidate for the day. I still blame poor handling of the interview process as much as I blame myself. By the time my turn arrived, I was so tired (from waiting for my turn!), I had not even eaten from anxiousness (and the fact that I couldn’t tell when my name would be called, so I had to stay in one place the entire day).

I was overwhelmed enough, facing the top minds in the field. After all, this was my first tryst at an IIT- which was supposed to be a dream for any engineering aspirant. The Professors must have interviewed around 50-60 candidates before me. Everybody was exhausted and wanted to get it over with. They asked me to be seated and began with the questions right away.

I don’t know what happened to this day, but I don’t recall having answered any of the questions convincingly (even by my own standards). Their attitude toward me wasn’t helping either. They were probably trying to simulate a stressful environment to test my ability to think under pressure, but it clearly wasn’t working. (In my defense, it wasn’t a job interview. You don’t do stress interviews for university admissions, what were they thinking?)

When I got stuck deriving an equation-

“Are you saying you cannot recall a derivation you only learnt two semesters ago?”

(thinking) “Yeah, make me feel more useless. Way to go.”

Then I was asked to explain my project work. I did my best but I also added that it was still ongoing, since I am in my final semester. I won’t be able to explain my results and conclusions already. I don’t think they believed me, at least that is what their expressions and body language told me.

I just wanted it to end so I could get the hell out of there.

In contrast, my interviews at IISc Bangalore and IIT Bombay where beautifully fulfilling experiences. The Professors there were extremely encouraging and friendly. It is a pity that that one poor experience has imprinted a very negative impression on IIT Madras in my mind. People rate IIT-M highly but I always say there are better IITs in India.

Like IIT Bombay. :p

Why Mechanical Engineering @ BMSCE?

B. M. Sreenivasaiah College of Engineering is one of the top engineering colleges in Karnataka. The Mechanical Engineering department (Estd. 1946) is as old as the college. It has earned its reputation over the decades as one of the best in its field.

Mechanical Engineering is all about machines. Books can only tell you so much about a machine, it is the practicals and hands-on learning experience that counts. And this is where BMSCE scores over any competition.

I advise you to take a tour and see for yourself. One look around the Machine Shop, Fluid Machinery Lab and Material Testing Lab will be enough to convince you. From the half a century old Bombay Kirloskar Lathe (so old it would look more at home in a museum) to the state-of-the-art CNC machine, you have the full range to teach you all you wanted to ever learn about machines and machining. And don’t be fooled by the ragged looking lab assistants and technicians. They are more skilled at on-floor labor than any of us engineers will ever be.

Let us step out from the Mechanical department now. Even if you look at (for?) the overall college experience, the full package for four wonderful years- academics, sports, extracurricular, techno-cultural events, entrepreneurial activities and placements, there is only one engineering college in Bangalore to meet your requirements.

And the name is B.M.S.C.E.