Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Guide to JEE Counselling 2013 (Part 1)

Selection of the branch and the campus is as an important task as clearing the JEE. It should not be based on a single parameter, be it placement statistics or the location. You need to take into a lot more parameters into account. Let me present some of those parameters which I think are important.

Parameters that you should consider to select a branch/subject:
  1. Passion for a subject: If you are really passionate about a subject/discipline, you should certainly select that subject.  All programs offered by the IITs give ample opportunities to those who put their mind and heart into it. To be passionate about something, the basic requirement is that you know that thing really well. Unfortunately most of you have very little idea about the different programs offered at the IITs.  You should try to find out as much as you can, what different subjects entail.
  2. Aptitude:  If you have aptitude for a subject, you tend to do well in that particular subject. For example: to do well in Economics, you should be good with numbers, calculus and logic. You should have a flair for writing and good oral communication skills. If you have a knack for these skills, you will do well in Economics. You should find out what skills are required to do well in the areas that you are actively considering. 
  3. Pay Package: This is something that most of you are asking about. The pay package that you get once you graduate from one of the IITs is not solely a function of your program.  Rather than looking for the best students, recruiters look for the students who best fit their profiles. These days companies visit IIT campuses with myriad of different profiles. There is no single best profile. You can follow your passion and still do well in terms of pay package because your profile will be suited for sufficient number of companies. Since I am taking about undergraduate program in Economics at IIT kanpur, I should add that our undergraduate students have done extremely well in the job market in absolute as well in comparison to the students of many engineering discipline.  Let me emphasize again that selecting a program solely based on pay package is not a good idea. 
  4. Future Prospects: It is also important to consider what will be the prospects available to you 10 years/ 20 years down the line. I have a relative who is a civil engineer. He graduated from one of the NITs in the early 80s. He  tells me a story about how his Principal tried to convince him and his classmates to change their branch to Computer Science and Engineering [CSE] which was, then, introduced for the first time in their campus and how he and his friends refused to move to CSE. Civil Engineering was considered a better branch at that time. Some of his classmates who were not doing well in the civil engineering department were forced to move to the CSE department. The classmates who moved to the cse are doing better on career front than the classmates who did not move. So, think ahead.
What I have presented here is not only incomplete but also highly reflective of my personal biases on the issue. For a comprehensive  view, Prof. Sanghi's blog on the same topic is a must read.

In next post, I am going to talk about parameters that you should consider to select a campus.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Opening and closing JEE ranks for Economics Program at IIT Kanpur

GE (19*)
OBC (10)
*: Number of seats available in the respective category
Note: From 2005 to 2011, IIT Kanpur offered 5-year integrated MSc program in Economics. In 2011,  4 year BS program in Economics was introduced in place of 5-year integrated MSc program.

To all those who cleared JEE (Advance) 2013

Congratulations on your selection.  You worked very hard; now, it is time for you to bask in the glory of success. However, don’t forget the most pressing issue at hand. You need to choose a discipline that you will pursue at the IIT of your choice. Of course, the ultimate allocation of a discipline will depend not only on your choice but also on choices of all those successful candidates whose AIRs are represented by smaller numbers than the number representing yours.  I know that by the time you would read this article, you would know as much as I do about the allocation process.

Here, I am sticking to a topic of which you probably don’t know much. This year, IIT Kanpur is offering a four years long bachelor course, called Bachelor in Science or B.S., in Economics. Now, you must be wondering: why does IIT Kanpur offer a Bachelor Degree in Economics. And, even if it does, why should you study Economics in an Institute of Technology? Isn’t Economics a Social Science? 

Yes, Economics is basically a social science. However, it has acquired certain characteristics of engineering disciplines. Let me compare Economics with Engineering.  According to New Oxford American Dictionary, Engineering is the branch of science and technology concerned with the design, building, and use of engines, machines, and structures.  Of course, economists don't design or built machine or any physical structures. However if you pay attention to the definition of engineering, you will see that the key words used in defining the discipline are design, build, and use of structures. Exactly same words are used to describe the dominant methodology of Economics, Economic Modelling. 

For example, engineers (TATA's) sensing the need and  a market for cheap cars in the society, designed and built a small car called Nano. The process can be described as the combination of formulating the problem and providing a solution. Economists are increasingly called upon to work in the similar fashion. They are supposed to design and/or provide a solution of myriad social problems. The key words are design and provision of a solution to a problem at the hand. The similarities between these two disciplines don't end at the abstract level. The way Economists search/design/provide  solutions to societal problems is very similar to the way engineers search/design/provide solutions to engineering problems. At core is, most of the time, a sound mathematical modelling. Yes, of course, engineers go further and build a prototype which economists can't. But mathematical modelling at the core remains the same.

IIT kanpur has realised that the science, particularly mathematics, based education which forms the core for engineering education at IITs,  also forms the core of modern education in Economics. To capitalise on this synergy, IIT Kanpur offers a four year bachelor in sciences (B.S.) in economics. 

Further, IIT Kanpur has realised  that as our country is progressing, sound knowledge of economics is becoming more important and critical. Engineers need to work together with economists. For example spectrum allocation can not be done on technological basis alone, one needs a market mechanism to extract maximum possible benefit from the allocation for the society.The USA and UK, took help of  economists to design a market mechanism to allocate spectrum, and were able to generate huge surpluses for their respective societies. 

A new beginning

In 2005, I started blogging. For a year or so, I was quite regular. Over the time, I became increasingly involved in my PhD thesis. This involvement lead to the untimely death of my first blog.  Ever since I joined IIT Kanpur, that is back in June 2009, I thought about starting a new blog;  mostly, to talk about  contemporary economic issues and Economics education in India. However, my laziness prevailed. Not any more.  Now, IIT JEE result is out, giving me impetus to spread the awareness about the our Bachelor in Science (B.S.) program in Economics @ IIT Kanpur among successful aspirants.