One Year Old!

I am an one year old baby in academics and this post is going to be a collection of my thoughts I have had for the past one year or so (before and after joining academics). In this first post I will concentrate on my general thoughts about joining LNMIIT. In the next post I will write on my thoughts on academics versus corporate.

To change from the world of “Hi” and “Bye” types to the world of “Good morning sir!” types was not an easy transformation personally, emotionally, economically, psychologically, socially, academically and logistically. When I decided to move out of an IT job my only aim was to regain my academic strength which I felt had lost its rigour when I was working in industry. When many IITs started showing only the entry level positions for me even after my industrial experience I decided I am not going to join an IIT at least as of now. That was the first jolt on my head. To add to the misery in one of the interviews for an IIT faculty position one of very senior professor from my parent institution whom I know very well passed on a comment directly to me on face that I have lost that midas touch that I was having during my PhD time after joining the industry. Even though I felt really bad hearing those words after few days I regained my composure. I took that comment positively and this made me even more stronger to look for avenues other than IITs. With some IIITs that I was interested in did not show interest in me because of my research topic I had to seriously look for the next tier institutes. That moment I came to know about LNMIIT and a few other private institutions through some colleagues and seniors. This is the moment I got some good advice from my colleagues and seniors. I will not name any one here but they still are my  great advisors.

As you all know in India private institutions are many but very few are of “some” class. Most of these institutions are teaching institutes who go on producing and manufacturing most of the students basically for IT jobs with few for exporting them to US and other Western Institutions. They are just manufacturing industries and in most of these institutions the research part is almost zero. So my choices were very few and it made my decision easier in that sense. LNMIIT was one of the best option for me for the following reasons:

  • When LNMIIT was started the academic seeds were sown by very senior highly experienced IIT professors so the IIT environment to an extent is still prevalent here
  • Teachers are everything here. Once the course is allotted it is the teachers responsibility to handle the course in the manner that he/she wants to approach. This gives lots of academic freedom to the faculties that any older IITs enjoy
  • It is a deemed university so there is sufficient facility to create our own advanced level courses and deliver it in the sense that we want. For example, in some courses we may even take off the end semester exams and go ahead with capstone projects
  • Students should be good since LNMIIT selects most of the students on the basis of IIT JEE Main exams score and that is always greater than the cutoff for the IIT JEE advanced exam
  • Students selection is purely based on merit and merit only
  • Non-intrusive nature of the institute in the academic work of the faculties

At the same time when I thought of disadvantages I was thinking about the following:

  • Jaipur is too far away from my place of stay (Bangalore)
  • When compared to the places that I have lived in Jaipur is relatively not a very well developed city
  • Institute is not a very well known place even within India
  • Institute is primarily a UG based and so the number of masters and PhD students are very less. So it is going to be a difficult and challenging task for me to carry out research activities
  • Even within Jaipur the institute is far away from the city centre so finding schools and travelling daily to schools for my kids is going to be a very difficult task
  • Extreme climate in Jaipur is going to be a big issue. For anyone who has stayed in a place like Bangalore it is even more a bigger problem
  • Getting research projects from agencies especially the government agencies is going to be difficult and challenging

Every institution has its pros and cons due to various factors but the questions here is how are we going to take pros to our advantage and at the same time address the cons.  How did I address the disadvantages comes in the following paragraphs:

Even though Jaipur and Bangalore are too far away, fortunately, it is very well connected by air with 6 to 8 flights every day being operated between two cities as of today. Jaipur is less polluted, less crowded, less urbanised and not much traffic so its good for me – its an advantage! Institute is not a well known place in India. Yes true! But I remembered my postdoc advisor’s words – don’t be a tail in a king’s den rather join a place where you can be the head and show the path for success to others and build the place for yourself and others! Although I had heard these words quite long back it came like a lightning at the correct moment. Number of masters and PhD students is quite less but I saw that there is a high potential that we can increase this in the very near future. And I am also very hopeful that we can do research even with few of the top UG students and its very heartening to note that I have already done that with few students and many are in pipeline. So in the longer run it does not matter who he is/was what all matters is what work did you do with the students and the quality of the work. 

Institute is far away from the city centre was definitely a big issue for me – for, I don’t want my kids to suffer daily by travelling 30 kms to good schools rather I would take the burden of travelling daily. Best point in Jaipur is you could travel 20+ kms in 30 min which is quite impossible in Bangalore so when we compare distances in India we should compare the travel time only! And that too if there are other faculties who can car pool with you that’s the best thing to have isn’t it? That’s what I have got now!

Extreme climate is another big issue especially when you and your family had lived in a place like Bangalore. Hence myself and my family were prepared for this and it will be a great experience for my kids more than anything else. For me and my wife we have lived in a place in Canada where temperatures have ranged from -28 to +35 so this is going to be another experience for us. Summer has been burning hot but still my family is yet to face the winter here. So I have to wait and watch!

Research projects are just by-products of what you do. So if you do your work nicely and publish outside the projects will come so the onus is on me. Only thing I have to make sure is I get time, place and environment to do good research. In the first year my first job was to get acclimatise as a good teacher which I have done to an extend now my priority is to do good research with students and publish well!

Smiles in your student faces bring miles of satisfaction and that is second to none!

Update: Corrected small typo errors