21 May 2017

Writing GATE exam of another branch

I've written about how I was forced into doing Mechanical engineering even though what really clicked with me was computer science. Ever since then there was a desire to pursue an education in CS.

So what can a Mechanical Engineer do to get a degree in Computer Science? Either write GATE or PGCET. The PGCET people were obstinate about not allowing a Mech engineer to write a CS paper, but the GATE organizers (bless them) agreed.
With five months of preparation time and a work schedule which many-a-time required me to work on weekends, I started preparing. Even though a week before the exam I couldn't study due to work deadlines, I wrote GATE and waited...remembering the amusing moment when the examiners at the centre, double-checked my photo ID with my face, wondering if I was a genuine candidate (others who wrote the exam were much younger).

Results were declared and I was among the top 11% of candidates across India. To me it initially didn't seem a big deal that I qualified. It was only later that a friend from IISc told me that qualifying in GATE itself is a big deal. On top of that, I cleared GATE from a different branch than what I studied in my bachelors. This was accentuated by my meeting some CS graduates who told me that they couldn't clear GATE when they wrote it.

Even more surprising:  Only 16% of the students had qualified. Articles from HindustanTimes and IndiaToday.

I also wrote back to the GATE organizers thanking them for the opportunity and the organizing chairman Prof.G.J.Chakrapani replied back with his best wishes.

What helps with preparing for GATE?

The wonderful people who created GateOverflow. The single best resource on the internet. There's a PDF you can download which contains questions from previous years, segregated subject-wise.
They also have a stackoverflow-style forum where you can ask your doubts.
This is a very useful piece of knowledge, because it lets you know how you have to study the concept, in order to be prepared for the exam.

Now I'm finally doing my masters in Computer Science. A bunch of mind boggling mathematics as part of the syllabus, but I'm glad I got here.

And to the socially conscious parents...

I still meet people who have newly become parents, who are already planning to send their child to college to become a doctor or engineer. I ask them if they'd be willing to consider what their child's interests are, and they don't really care.
I feel sad for their kids.
A bunch of lovely dreams squashed by the perception of social status and bullying.

As long as the education system and the industry allows people to switch to what they like doing, I feel our people and our nation will have a bright future. Better still, might be the concept shown in Man of Steel, where the genetic makeup of a child is determined at birth and they are trained from childhood to become the best at whatever career they are genetically and mentally most inclined to like and perform.

"Knowledge is most precious to the one who truly seeks and respects it"
- Navin