Panel Discussion on Higher Studies- A Report

Divyanshu Aryan

An interactive session between the students of Mechanical Engineering and the students who recently passed out of college in the quest of higher education was recently held. The students were mainly of PhD and MS courses that are pursuing their research field of interest. A number of important issues came to light in this session and many solutions were discussed amongst the attendees.

The discussion moved on to comparing the education system at IITs to various other institutes. The involvement of students in the system was discussed next. Students were also told about the vast varieties of projects offered to them as IITians. Students were encouraged to gather information about the courses they are opting for and choose wisely, so as to take the maximum benefit of the facilities offered at IIT Delhi, including the labs. They emphasised on developing the ‘Maker-Culture’ that is prevalent in most universities abroad. It was emphasised that the students must change their attitude towards studies, and since they are a part of IIT Delhi, they must realise and utilise the full potential of the various facilities offered by the institute. The various opportunities offered by the online courses were also explained.

Shifting to the topic of the research projects for the students, the speakers encouraged the students to reach out to their professors. The various pros and cons of long term projects versus industrial internships, especially in IISC or any foreign university were discussed next. The various benefits of taking up a B.Tech project were told as well.

After some talk on the project opportunities the topic of the discussion changed to ‘Writing SOPs’. The importance of a good SOP was conveyed to the students. They were encouraged to write their own SOPs instead of copying from other sources. A stepwise method of writing an SOP was discussed. The major points covered included writing about their own skills, how they’ll be of value to the ongoing research. It was noted that the SOP needed to be different from the CV of the student. The motivation of the student for a PhD must be conveyed through their SOP. Some information about the field one is applying for must be covered in the SOP. Students were advised to reverse think while, and write that content in their SOPs for which they would actually offer someone else a position. It was emphasised that the students must only write those facts in their SOPs which they have the proof for. Last but not the least the importance of starting early was discussed as well.

The discussion then moved on the other aspects like applying at different universities. Students were advised to take up multiple and diverse projects, as the universities understand that under graduation is an exploration period. The process of gaining funding for the projects was discussed next. For the students of the MS programme, no official funding is generally available, they were advised to be in contact with their professors of choice as that would increase their chances for a scholarship/funding. For PhD aspirants, most institutes offers some funding. Another medium for funding is getting a fellowship. For example,  the Purdue-ISRO fellowship is reserved for students from IIT and IISC. For getting a TA-ship the importance of the GRE and Toefel scores was emphasised upon. Though most of the times trying to contact professors in top universities might go in vain but if it does work out, nothing like it.

The work culture amongst the students was discussed next. Students were advised to maintain a high attendance and take the work seriously instead of waiting for deadlines. In higher education, it’s very important to have a very enthusiastic research group, which works collaboratively so that everyone remains motivated. Moreover the resources are abundantly available in universities abroad. Students were also advised to look out for possible positions in European Universities.

Concluding the session, there was one point that was common to everything discussed. Just figure out what you really enjoy doing and pursue it relentlessly; everything else will follow. The session saw a participation of 43 undergrads and was a successful session. Looking forward to more such informative sessions from the MES!IMG_7539 IMG_7548