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Stories of Role Models
When I arrived at NIT Warangal, I was already on fire. It was fuelled by the disappointment that I did not get into an IIT.
I had spent a year in Kota.
Hailing from Batala, never away from home earlier, the prep-school pressure cooker in Kota was a culture shock. It helped me adjust quickly now.
I was in Electrical Engineering. CS was my first choice. Alas again!
I invaded the library. I was keen to dig into research papers and do some of my own. The library closed at 9 PM. They would throw us out after that.
Our HoD came to rescue. He let us use the department conference room, at night.
We called ourselves Illuminati :). Six half-mad aspiring scientists, who came together, because they wanted to show the world they were better than what the world thought them to be.
After dinner in the hostel mess, we would arrive at the conference room, with our trusty laptops and papers to read and discuss.
The sessions would end by 5:00 AM, back to the hostel, a quick nap, back to classes. We sustained this routine for 2 1/2 years.
Needless to say, I forged the bonds of a lifetime and found my tribe.
I also ended up publishing 18 research papers. A record! for maximum papers published by any undergrad student.
Undergrad over - I became a researcher at National University of Singapore.
I wanted to work on real problems from here on.
I helped build a solution that cracked down on child traffickers, smuggling humans in ship containers. We scanned heat signatures and put them through AI.
I also dabbled in trading stocks. I made money. Making money for its own sake, seemed pointless soon thereafter.
I quit and came back to India.
I spent a month trekking at the Everest base camp in Nepal and then 3 weeks in Bhutan in a monastery. The self-imposed isolations gave me time to think, what I wanted to do with myself.
I recommend this to anyone lost from purpose, in the daily business of rushing to deadlines.
I knew, I would do research from here on, that helps others.
That is what I have done since then.
I went to Canada and for my masters created machine vision technologies that monitors the vitality of an early embryo in IVF.
It helped parents avoid agonising if their procedure worked or not.
I consciously found myself opportunities at several centres of academic excellence thus getting a wider exposure to the world of academia and research thinking. I recommend this too :)
For my PhD, I went to Cambridge in the UK but also spent time at Harvard and Brown in the US.
I learnt that even in the stratosphere of learning - how you present yourself and pitch your story makes a big difference.
You must have heard the difference between the guy who was laying bricks and the one who was building a cathedral. Ignore this, at your own peril! :)
Today, I trust myself to take any real world problem and apply thinking, grounded in fundamentals to quickly solve for success.
With this - Gods willing - I serve.
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