Rajat hails from Bangalore, Karnataka. He has graduated with a BTech in Electrical Engineering at the top of the his class and the Institute, for which he was awarded the prestigious President’s Gold Medal. In his next chapter, he will be joining the PhD program at Stanford University. Here are excerpts of a brief interview with Rajat, where he highlights his journey through IIT Madras.

Tell us about your family background, early education

My elder brother played a huge role in my formative years and inspired me to pursue math and science during high school, and subsequently engineering in college. Being an alumnus of IIT Madras, he offered extremely valuable insights that helped in making my decision to choose electrical engineering at IITM.

Were there any specific reasons you chose IIT Madras instead of other IITs?

One of the main reasons I chose IIT Madras was that it’s EE department is renowned as one of the best among the IITs. Additionally, it’s proximity to my hometown Bangalore clearly made it the best choice for me.

Can you tell us about the influences that shaped you and your career path during your stay at IIT Madras?

The first major influence on me was the Applied Linear Algebra course I took in my 5th semester instructed by Prof. Uday Khankhoje. The concepts and ideas I learnt in the course truly opened my eyes to the importance and power of mathematics in an engineering setting, and greatly shaped my future decisions. The unique teaching style of Prof. Uday also played a major role in developing my interest in the subject. I consequently took up a research project with Prof. Uday in my next semester. This project was my first brush with formal research and was one of the main factors that made me decide to pursue higher studies as a career path.

Secondly, the guidance and mentorship offered by my final thesis advisor Prof. Harish Guruprasad was instrumental in my decision of which research direction to pursue in my higher studies. Along with his mentorship, the interesting and lucid conversations with both graduate and undergraduate peers working in similar research areas were also greatly useful in my endeavors.

Additionally, the freedom and flexibility to explore a wide array of topics by taking a variety of graduate level courses in the EE department allowed me to learn about numerous subjects and greatly broaden my horizons. Overall, the conducive atmosphere and encouraging community at IIT Madras were essential in forging my career path in research as a whole.

If you were to do it all over again, would you choose IIT Madras? If so, why?

Yes, without a doubt. From an academic point of view, my experience at the EE department of IITM not only allowed me to learn a plethora of interesting topics, but also shaped and molded my current research outlook. Apart from academics, the life lessons I learnt and the amazing time I had with my friends truly made the past 4 years a memorable experience.