JoSAA 2022 advice: EEE or ECE? Double degree or BTech? The IIT Bombay professor assesses the dilemmas faced by electrical engineering aspirants.

IIT Bombay recently held an ‘Open House’ session for candidates who have qualified JEE Advanced 2022 and are interested in pursuing a BTech degree in Electrical Engineering.

Professor Rajesh Zele, an alumnus of the institute who has been teaching at IIT Bombay for the past six years, moderated the session. He started the session with a brief introduction about the electrical engineering department of IIT Bombay, which is among the largest in the country. The department has 66 faculty members and more than 1300 students from BTech, MTech, PhD and Dual Degree programs.

Here are some questions that Professor Zele answered:

Q. I am confused between computer engineering and electrical engineering. I love chip design and integrated circuits, but I’m also interested in machine learning, data science, and artificial intelligence. Which branch should I choose?

What do you want to do? What are you excited about? If you’re good at building things with your hands, you can build a PC board or get excited about building a circuit board and then go into electrical engineering. And of course software development and machine learning are part of electrical engineering. Studying electrical engineering won’t take you away from anything computer related. Our students have had very good results in IT. Working in electrical engineering won’t preclude you from working in the machine learning area either.

Q. I am interested in electrical engineering and also coding. Do the two complement each other or are they completely different?

If you are a programmer, you are a very exciting person in electrical engineering. If you like coding and creating algorithms, you can easily slide into electrical engineering. On the one hand, you will build circuits, and on the other hand, you will also code them.

Let’s say you like algorithms and math, and then you can take computer science classes and expose yourself to the backbone of this whole system. Many of my students are born programmers. What I feel is that as a student, you have to learn to be lazy. Lazy in the sense that you invest time in the beginning but then automate the whole process. We do this part of coding a lot when we do chip design. Students develop codes that make chip testing a breeze.

Q. What should I choose between BTech and the dual degree program?

BTech is a four-year program and a dual degree is a five-year program. In a bachelor’s degree, the calendar is full, and you have to do so much in four years. The dual degree program also has a busy timeline and you will do everything a BTech student does, but you will also develop your research project. A student works individually with a professor on the double degree research project.

Some of the research the dual degree students have done with me is some of the most outstanding work I’ve seen. In a double degree, students complete their BTech in four years, and then have a year for their research, and they love it.

What is your goal? Are you going to work in the core areas of electricity, or are you planning to appear for civil service exams, or want to join a bank? If you are going to do the latter, there is no point in doing a double degree. If you’re doing an MBA, don’t go for a double degree. But if you want to work in core areas and get a deeper sense of electrical research, a dual degree is for you. The advantage is that you will get a master’s degree in one year, which usually takes up to 3 years. A master’s degree is also very valuable, especially if you want to do a PhD.

Q. I am interested in mechanical and electrical engineering. Which branch should I choose?

In all fields, if you do well, you will have scope. Today’s industry is very interdisciplinary. Maybe you’re an electrical engineer, but maybe you’re working with a mechanical engineer to build something. We have many electrical engineering students at IIT Bombay working on small scale submarines, automobile developments and other areas. There is constant engagement with computer engineering, mechanical engineering and others. You will have the opportunity to choose your minors and electives.

Q. What do we study in the four-year BTech Electrical Engineering program?

If you go to our website, you will see a list of courses you will study. The way your education is structured is that some core classes are the foundation of electrical engineering. Some classes are a little advanced to take you to the “next level”. Some classes are also very high level, rather optional. There (in electives) you can choose what you like best. For example, you can select from electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering and others. There will be a lot of freedom when making this choice.

Q. I don’t think I will get electrical engineering from IIT Bombay. Should I go for electrical in new IITs or ECE in new IITs? I am asking about ECE as it is usually ranked higher than electrical.

In my opinion, it doesn’t matter which IIT or which institution you study. If you want to do electrical engineering, I wouldn’t worry too much about the nomenclature. Many students don’t make it to an IIT, and I tell them not to get discouraged. It’s just an exam. You can study BTech in another college and then opt for MTech in IIT.

Q. Should I prefer an old NIT over a new IIT for the same branch?

My advice is don’t worry so much about the grades and rankings of each institution. Do your best and try to find some field you like. Don’t worry too much about whether you should go for IIT Bombay, IIT Madras or some other IIT.

Q. I am interested in aerospace engineering. If I choose electrical engineering, will I be able to work in aerospace engineering and other areas such as automobiles and F1 sports cars?

I want you to remember that you are very young. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You should be willing to adapt. Sometimes you have a dream at an early age and then it changes in the long run. It’s very natural. So, I will advise you to take baby steps.

If you choose any of the engineering streams (electrical or aerospace); we teach you to learn. Once you learn to learn, you will catch up.

Q. What are the skills required to join electrical engineering?

If you have studied well during class 12 you already have the skills. Everything you need, we’ll give it to you here on campus. You don’t have to worry too much about any stream you join. Don’t stress too much before joining IIT Bombay. Have fun before you join, because once you’re on campus you’ll be working really hard.

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