About three years ago, I wrote (by far) the most popular post on this blog: Pick IIIT-Delhi. I thought I’d write a follow-up to that (now that I’m graduating), updating it with the latest information and addressing the most common questions about IIIT-D’s undergraduate program. So here goes:
I believe that IIIT-D is among the best places in the country to study computer science (and now possibly electronics and communication as well). However, as I pointed out in my last post, one should probably join only if they’re convinced that CS/ECE is what they really want to study. It’s a shame that our education system makes kids decide roughly what profession they want to pursue at age 17, but there’s really nothing one can do about that. So essentially, if you’re one of the few who have decided to study CS/ECE at this tender age for the right reasons (‘ECE is an evergreen branch’ is not the right reason), IIIT-D is a good bet for you.
There’s a very good reason for this: IIIT-D as an institution wants students to either get placed in high-end industry positions or study further in the field (MS/PhD). So if you simply want to sail through your bachelors while preparing for CAT, then you are likely to be in a disadvantaged position compared to other engineering colleges. This is because IIIT-D’s academic program is extremely demanding and intensive – with projects, assignments, presentations and assignments taking up huge chunks of your time throughout the semester (and not just during the exams at the end). Of course, some students have cracked MBA entrances or done completely unrelated things, but these people have managed their time very well and worked hard. If you’re not serious about CS/ECE, you’ll have an easier time and emerge with a better GPA if you head to another college.
So if you’re still hell-bent on joining, I’ll address some other aspects of IIIT-D life.
Courses – Most courses are tough, with multiple evaluation components. Final exams are (on average) worth only about 30% of your grade. Some courses don’t even have real finals. The rest of your grade is well-divided into homework, presentations, projects and quizzes. Professors generally discuss the evaluation metric with the class and take student input, too. After the first two weeks of the semester, you are definitely going to have at least two-three deadlines a week. If you enjoy programming – your life at IIIT-D is going to be much easier.
Flexibility – The flexibility to choose exactly what you want to study and when you want to study it (within guidelines) is very liberating. You can take a ton of extra credits to get awarded honors, kill yourself with six tough courses in one semester or relax with just two in the next. And of course, you can also choose to do a bunch on non-CS subjects like biology and economics. But remember, with great freedom comes great responsibility.
Faculty – We have 35 (IIT-B has 39) permanent faculty members – all of whom, it bears repeating, have a PhD and excellent research experience. They’re also very open to new ideas and teaching styles and are evaluated by the institute partly based on student feedback. Some of them are among the top researchers in the world in their specific areas.
Social – We’re still not a very large institution, and still reasonably close-knit. There is no ragging to speak of, and seniors and juniors mix freely and socialize, with no ‘sir’ required. We have some really fun small events – like Cadence and the Karaoke Night, as well as one large technical festival – Esya. The campus is always alive till late night/early morning, and there are few restrictions.
Facilities – Although we don’t have a large campus, we have good quality facilities. For outdoor sports: tennis, basketball, badminton, football and cricket is (or will be) available during the semester. We generally do pretty well (relative to our size) at the Inter-IIIT meets. We have multiple pool tables, a gym and table tennis in terms of indoor sports. The labs are top-notch, crazy-fast internet is everywhere, the hostels are well-designed, everything is air-conditioned – and almost everything is open to both sexes till late night – what more could one want?
Placements/Internships – As with any other institution, some students do remarkably well while others don’t. The good news is that on average – IIIT-D undergrads are paid very highly. The other piece of good news is that the best students do as well or better than students from other top institutions like IIIT-H, IIT-B and IIT-D. Our students score jobs at places like IBM Research, Microsoft and Adobe, intern at CMU, INRIA and EPFL and get picked for GSoC. The five students (of a batch of 50) who will be studying further are all headed to the top 10 CS schools in the US.
Staff – I’ll summarize this in one sentence: IIIT-D staff make it their priority to help you get stuff done rather than trip you up with red tape. I don’t think I’ve ever been dissatisfied with IIIT-D staff.
International – The top researchers in the world regularly visit IIIT-D and give seminars and hold workshops. Summer/winter research programs are popular, and many students head abroad (and foreign students visit us) during the semester or otherwise. Faculty and students (even undergrads) present their research at top-tier international conferences, and IIIT-D itself hosts some great conferences.
Logic – The vast majority of things at IIIT-D work as they should – and if it isn’t, you’re encouraged to come up with a solution and implement it. Except for a few instances, rules and decisions make logical sense, are proposed for student benefit and are open to discussion (through appropriate channels), which promotes trust in the administration and the student government.
As you can probably gather, I’m a big fan of my college. But don’t take my word for it, visit IIIT-D and talk to some students to find out for yourself. I’m sure I’ve left a bunch of things out in this post, but I hope this helps some prospective students make the right decision.
Please don’t ask me what your chances are of getting in – the admission procedure for my batch was very different, and I really can’t help you with that.