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Grad School Diaries #4: B.Tech in AC Tech, Masters in TU Delft - Amit Koikkarah Aji

With another academic year coming to an end, a feeling of dread would probably be setting in with students especially those in their third year. What next?
Should I sit for Placements? Should I attempt any of the Competitive Exams? Can I pursue a Masters abroad? Should I even continue with Engineering?!

Amit Koikkarah Aji an alumnus of ACT, 2014 is currently pursuing his Masters at TUDelft - the largest and oldest public technological university located in Netherlands. In a light-hearted conversation he gives us an insight on his journey from ACT to TUDelft.

Which course are you specializing in?

I am doing my Masters in Chemical Engineering with Process Engineering as Specialisation.

Could you brief us about your application process and why you chose TUDelft?

I started my application process by July 2014. I had applied to University of Delaware, University of Kansas, Imperial College London, TU Delft, University of Michigan and a few others. I had gotten acceptance from most of them.

My major inclination was towards transport phenomena which began for the first time in TUDelft in 1930. It is a renowned course at TUdelft. The quality of research going on here, is at par with that happening at Massachusetts.
University of Michigan is renowned for their course in Catalyst Engineering, whereas University of Delaware has an acclaimed course in Engineering Thermodynamics.
I had narrowed down colleges primarily based on my research interest. This is something I would suggest my juniors to do and to not simply go by rankings alone.

What were the exams you had taken?

I had taken my GRE in August and TOEFL a little after October. GRE is not essential for most European universities.
TUDelft requires either a TOEFEL or an IELTS score, I took both since Imperial College of London only accepts IELTS.
I was done with my first set of applications to the American schools by mid-December.
However TUDelft has a deadline that extends upto April. So I had applied only by Feb and had gotten accepted in a few weeks.

What are the other requirements that help in building your portfolio?

American colleges require 3 letters of reccomendation, while Eurpoean colleges only 2 - either from a professor who taught you or a supervisor under whom you did an internship, preferably at a research institute.
Your Statement of Purpose (SOP) is very important and sways the application process in your favour. You should be able to present your personal story well.
The criteria for selection goes in this order
1) Your grades
2) SOP and
3) Letters of Recommendation.

Did you sit for Campus Placements?

I did sit for placements but wasn't very keen on taking a job. I still would love to do a doctoral after completing my Masters. I went up to the Interview round with City Bank and Murugappa Group but I had to politely decline the offer (laughs). I sat just for the experience of it.

Any kind of advice you would like to impart to your juniors?

Students should make the best use of their time. Considering it's a government college, they can get moulded in whichever way they allow themselves to.
I would suggest students not to converge their focus on textbooks prescribed by local authors or to the previous year questions. Collect books by foreign authors and read along those lines.
What you learn here is very shallow and coping with academic pressure abroad might be very stressful.

How drastically different did you find the environment at TUDelft?

You are expected to be a lot more mature and technical. Not everything will be spoon fed. Assignments become a daily routine. You are continuously challenged in your field, in a good way though.  On the bright side professors are very friendly and receptive. You can go up to them with queries or clear doubts through mails.

How would you describe your time here at ACT?

I had a lot of fun, good friends and good memories. I had given my first presentatiom during Chemfluence, which motivated me to win at Chemclave for Paper Presentation at IIT Madras.

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