How Did I Get Into IISc Bangalore?

Let me share my experience with you. I had the privilege of attending the interview for two departments at the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. Well, I had applied for 3 departments- Aerospace, Mechanical and Material Science, but I could only attend the first two, because the time slots of Aerospace and Material Science overlapped and I had to choose one over the other.

I had my Mechanical Engineering interview in the afternoon, but it was already evening (past 6 pm) by the time it was my turn to be interviewed. Actually, I was the last candidate for the day. The interview was being held in one of their conference rooms in the ground floor, you know, where they have those long tables with seating on either side? Something like this:


It was a different experience to be interviewed by more than two people (I had been to campus interviews before where there are two interviewers usually- HR and tech). Looking back, I still don’t know how I walked into that room that day and yet not get overwhelmed facing some of the top minds in my field. There were at least 7-8 Professors on the panel.

I was already exhausted from the long wait (close to 3 hours). The Professors must have interviewed around 50-60 candidates before me. Everybody was exhausted and wanted to get it over with. But I was pleasantly surprised by their attitude toward me. They showed no signs of fatigue and smiled with so much enthusiasm, as if I was the first candidate for the day. I suppose that was their way of putting me at ease.

After the initial round of introductions which put my jitters away, I was asked to explain a few basic concepts on the blackboard. I don’t recall the exact details anymore (it was many years ago) but I remember being asked to plot the stress-strain curve for aluminium and rubber, and explain the difference. I was asked about my strengths (among the vast topics that Mechanical Engineering covers) and also about my final year project.

Basically, they wanted to test my aptitude and curiosity to learn new stuff and apply it. I guess that is the major difference compared to a job interview. They’re not looking to “hire” you, so don’t try to “sell yourself”.

I had my Aerospace Engineering interview the very next morning. I arrived early. This time we were asked to fill out a form. It required me to assign preference to the four specializations being offered by the department, and whether I was be interested in being considered for MS or a direct PhD. I was the third candidate to be interviewed this time, and it was in one of their first floor classrooms, above the main office.

I was a little more confident from the previous evening, and it probably showed in my voice and body language as well. The Professors occupied the front row of the seats while I was asked to sit at the teacher’s table. It was very similar to the previous day’s interview, except this time I was asked to solve a Heat Transfer problem. A few questions later, they asked me why I had opted for MS while there was a direct PhD option.

Both interviews lasted for about 40 minutes each.

A few things I would say would definitely work:

  • Be clear on your basics. The rest hardly matters.
  • Be genuine and firm in your answers. You have to give the impression that you know what you are talking about.
  • Be well dressed and look confident.
  • Back your answers with illustrations and examples, if needed. You are provided an empty blackboard for a reason.

Good luck!

As for me, I managed to clear the interview in both departments. I was offered MSc. (Engg) in Aerospace Engineering because that was my first preference. I was told I came 2nd among 60 shortlisted candidates. So, yay!

Original answer on Quora here.

Memorization Made Easy & Fun

Scene: IIT-JEE coaching class, circa 2005

Late nights, extra classes. practice tests, mock tests, entrance exams… How do we remember all these formulas, and more importantly recall them successfully when it is most needed?


Use a lot of mnemonics and repetition, and also have fun in the process. Something like this:main-qimg-f354cdc140aaeaec6ad27740471d5b32-c.jpg

Cut to 2016

Nearly 8 years in the field of Mechanical Engineering, people still wonder why there’s a hazy look in my eyes and a silly smile on my lips whenever I come across the formula for Hooke’s Law. (Hooke’s Law is basically the foundation on which Strength of Mechanics and my potential career is built upon)

This is just one example. Stuff like this got me through high school and grad school (engineering college), and if I am able to remember most of it even today, after all these years, it’s got to be effective, right?

P.S. This particular Hooke’s Law = Fly AWAY idea belongs to Roshan P. R., from our IIT-JEE coaching days together at BASE (Bangalore). I wonder if he still remembers this. Thank you, Roshan!

My Campus Placement Experience @ BMSCE

I was an average (at least my marks were) Mechanical Engineering student of 2007-2011 batch. My first placement experience was L&T on August 16, 2010. I cleared the written test but failed the interview, because I could not convincingly explain why my academic performance was bad (66% aggregate). I didn’t attend any more placements for the rest of the semester.

TCS came along on New Year’s Day of 2011. That was my first success. My efforts weren’t up to my usual standards. I performed halfheartedly (I didn’t want a IT job) yet I was placed. It wasn’t very surprising, considering 350 students from BMSCE were placed that year. I was one among them.

Mercedez Benz came in February. I cleared the written test but failed the Group Discussion round. My excuse? I’m a shy introvert. GDs are not my forte. But not getting a job kind of sucked.

I wrote the GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test for Engineering) exam on February 13th. Luckily, I scored 59 marks out of 100, GATE Score of 613 and a percentile of 98.9. I could apply for any of the PSUs for a government job but I didn’t.

I had written the AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test) for the Indian Air Force in February, which I cleared and I got a call for their interview. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it because our Final Year Project defense was on the same day. And I didn’t want to piss off the external examiner since the results of 3 other guys who were in my project group also depended on this.

ONGC Mangalore (OMPL) came for pool campus recruitment to BMSCE, RVCE and MSRIT in June. I cleared the written test and the interview, and was one of only 5 from 3 of the top Engineering colleges in the city. Besides, it was the highest package for Mechanical stream around that time – 6 lac p.a. (Amounts to 50,000/- per month).

We had written the entrance test for Toyota Kirloskar at JSSATE sometime in March. The results of that came out in July and I was placed in that too. Fortunately, college was officially over by then, so I didn’t really break the ‘only 2 job offers’ rule. 😛

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Based on my GATE score, I got admission into:

1) M.Tech. in Material Science & Metallurgy at IIT Madras.
2) M.Sc.(Engg.)/Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at IISc Bangalore.
3) M.Tech. in Applied Mechanics at IIT Delhi.
4) M.Tech in Aerospace Engineering (Aircraft Structures) at IIT Bombay.

I chose the 4th option and am currently in my final year at IIT Bombay. The moral of the story is not that I got 3 job offers and rejected them all, it is that despite having an aggregate of 67% and not being anywhere near the top-25 students (academics-wise) in my branch, I was able to outdo most of the students in my batch.

Always remember-

“It is not who you are, but what you do on the day of placement/exam that defines you.” ~Naveen N. Bhat

Original answer on Quora here.