Saturday, June 22, 2013

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. 

8 comments:

  1. Sir I'm interested in this program, however my parents have an inherent dislike towards a BS degree instead of Btech. Also is this course useful for pure finance jobs?

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    1. Aman Jain: the course is very useful for pure finance jobs. We have courses like Financial Economics, Econometrics and Mathematical Economics which will be immensely helpful for anyone thinking of a career in financial world. You should pick a subject that is close to your heart. You should not worry about whether you get a B. Tech or a B.S. degree.

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  2. Sir,
    I have become interested in this programme by reading your concise and informative article above.

    However, I would like to know as to what a student is expected to do in future? Is he supposed to do a MS or MSc in Economics? How has been the placement of 5 year course till now? Also, sir by reducing the duration to 4 years, would there be any disadvantage as far as placements are concerned? And lastly, why should one undertake an economics course at IIT rather than a good college in say Delhi University?

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    Replies
    1. To get an answer of your first question, please read https://www.facebook.com/groups/jecounsellingforum/498187320259597

      You will have plenty of options after doing a BS in Economics. You can get a job, do a MS or a PhD, or do a MBA.

      Placement: I am just quoting what I wrote in a blog post "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. "

      Under new program, a student can still get MS in Economics (Earlier, it was M.Sc) at IITK by spending one more year (meaning doing more coursework). So, I don't think that the new BS program is disadvantageous in any way.

      why should one undertake an economics course at IIT rather than a good college in say Delhi University?

      This question, I get time and again. First of all: 4 year long bachelor program is what most of the countries follow. You must have heard that Delhi University has started offering 4 year bachelor programs from this year.

      We at IIT Kanpur teach/treat Economics like a science/ engineering discipline. The focus is on learning mathematical and statistical tools required in the area of Economics. Further, students of Economics at IIT Kanpur get exposed to basic engineering problems which help them become better consultants/ analysts.

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  3. Sir
    Things are changing and in 2013 Eco at iitk
    opened at 1099 and closing at 3200 and in coming couple of years this will start closing before mechanical, comments of few final year students of electrical say that eco is best after C S at kanpur we need to think of 10 years from now what will be scenario .

    DEVIN HARIA ( AIR 1099 - 2013)

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  4. Sir
    Is there a M Sc in Economics course available in IIT K presently?

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  5. Sir I am confused what factors indicate that eco is right for you
    I mean after studying pure pcm for 2 years how could we make out if eco will comfort us

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