ISRO

I have been bombarded with the question with the question many a times. Why are you leaving ISRO to pursue M.Tech@IIT? Is it a decision worth taking? Won’t it cost you giving up something which many a students crave for? Then surely there is something seriously “wrong” with ISRO, right?

Actually “no”. Perspective matters. Why did I resign from TCS and join ISRO initially? It’s because I was fed up with corporate lifestyle and seriously wanted a break. Joining ISRO rather than an “XYZ” company is always much more preferable. And what I have done here for last one year, may be a bit more, was professionally quite satisfying. But, I was half-hearted since beginning. This is the place for people who are devoted, dedicated to space science. My interests are quite different, cryptography and information security. Evidently those are not aligned to my subjects of choice. I feel this is the time to choose between my passion and profession. And I preferred the former over the later.

What does some expect from an M.Tech. programs@IITs? Might be the following:

  • Academic growth, research opportunity, a platform to pursue Ph.D./Post. Doctoral degrees.
  • Professional growth, a job offering a thick packet at month end.
  • Association, having an opportunity to get to know best technical merits in India.
  • Attitude, brand, being an IIT-ian, more like a dream to many a people.

And my decision to join M.Tech. is dominated by one or more of the following, precisely the first one.

Once again, it has got nothing to do with ISRO being good or bad, perspective matters.

Pursuing M.Tech. or joining Govt. organizations, e.g. ISRO, BARC etc.? A burning question indeeed. To my understanding, it can’t be unanimously answered. Both have their pros and cons. It’s you who have to weigh both the ends and settle down to a decision. Rather I’d try to aid your thought-process providing with certain information which people are generally unaware before joining ISRO.

I wrote GATE 2012 and had an AIR 1403. Also, I took ISRO entrance exam in 2011 and had an AIR 11 out of 23 CS candidates selected. GATE result came out in March 2012 and prior to that in November 2011, ISRO result was published. My joining at ISRO was on March 16, 2012. I’ve mentioned the precise timing just to highlight that for me taking decision was somewhat easy. GATe result was not upto the mark as per “my ” expectation. So, I joined ISRO and gave a second try.

Life is not so smooth always. One of my friend has an AIR 115 in GATE 2012. He joined ISRO initially along with me, filled up the forms in IITs and resigned after three months to join M.Tech. in IIT-M.

So, what do you conclude? That having a stunning AIR in GATE always prioritizes joining an M.Tech. rather than joining ISRO, right? Unfortunately, no. Some more stories follow.

After coming down here at ISRO, I have found one lady having ME@IISc. in 2008, one guy having a dual-degree (B.Tech. + M.Tech.) from IIT-M in 2012 are also working here. Our Deputy- Director, who is an ex-IISc-ian, is still contributing here for last thirty years. One lady from ECE discipline, discontinued from IIT-KGP in 2009 and joined ISRO. During our induction program (called as IITP – ISRO Induction Training Program), I met may people who we can see in TV screen during launches. I have seen many people taking our classes who have earned “Padmabhushan”, “Padmabibhushan” and similar kind of series of national and international awards. And ample such examples are there. Though I didn’t disclose the names of the people I have taken as examples above, count on me. Such people are there.

Why will you join ISRO? What can you expect out of it? Why will you even bother to stick to ISRO? Read this.

And why will you pursue M.Tech.? This is what my perspective is.

Now, choice is yours. Never allow anyone else to dictate you what to do. Ask yourself, and take a decision for which you yourself will only be responsible.

I have been asked this question numerous times by many aspirants. Being tired of iterating the same time and again, I thought of sharing my experience with you.

As many times I have been asked the same, I can bet that I could never satisfy anybody with my reply.   To my belief, no special preparation is required to crack the test. Anyone with a decent knowledge of Computer Science and an average preparation, can pass through the filters. At least it is true for exams conducted in the years of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. Now, “decent” and “average” are quite qualitative terms. Let me try to explain what I mean.

I wrote ISRO entrance exam. for the recruitment of Scientist/Engineer-‘SC’ on April 14, 2010. The advertisement came out in the month of February. I was working in TCS at that time. The project which I was working in was under extreme stress. Hardly a day passed when I did not have to work for extra hours. Almost eight months lapsed after I passed out B.Tech. It was that time only I “started” thinking to prepare for GATE. As you can understand, the situation was not at all favorable. What I could only do was to practice CS2007, CS2008 and CS2009 question papers available in their website. The exam pattern was like 1.5 hrs., 80 questions, 3 marks each. No calculator was allowed. The questions were not that difficult either. Just take a note that, only “real” challenge in it was the time factor. The time is half of that in GATE and number of questions were more than that in the same. Later on, I discovered that few questions were from previous years’ CS/IT GATE question papers itself.

Result came out. I was shortlisted for interview with an AIR 91. Adiyar ISRO guest house, Antariksh Bhavan, Chennai was my interview center. I was with the same company this time, too. Work pressure was a bit humanly at that time. Yet it was not at all comparable with a regular candidate. To cut the long story short, I appeared in front of the panel consisting of 7-8 members. They asked me questions from all the major topics in CS including Operating System, Networking, Data Structure, Software Engineering etc. It duration was about half an hour. I could answer most of the questions. But I was not confident. After all, it’s relative performance what matters. The next day, I left Chennai with a throbbing heart.

Time for the final result. They published it in the last week of November announcing me as AIR 11 out of 23 candidates selected in total. Joining date was March 16, 2012 at Vikram Sarabhai Research Centre (VSSC), ISRO.

Here  is a collection of results for all branches for the recruitment in 2011.

Hope the information helps.