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JoSAA Counselling 2022: EEE or ECE? Dual degree or BTech? IIT Bombay professor weighs in on dilemmas faced by electrical engineering aspirants. – The Indian Express

IIT Bombay recently held an ‘Open House’ session for candidates who have qualified JEE Advanced 2022 and are keen on 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, led the session. He started the session with a brief presentation on the electrical engineering department of IIT Bombay, which is among the largest in the country. The department has 66 faculty members and over 1300 students across BTech, MTech, PhD, and Dual Degree programmes.
Here are a few questions answered by Professor Zele:
Q. I am confused between computer science engineering and electrical engineering. I love chip designing and integrated circuits, but I am 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 feel like you are good with building things with your hands, you can put together a pc board, or get excited about putting together a circuit board, then take up electrical engineering. And, of course, software development and machine learnings are parts of electrical engineering. Studying electrical engineering will not keep you away from anything related to computer science. Our students have done exceedingly well in computer science. Working in electrical engineering will not prevent 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 coder, you are a very exciting person in electrical engineering. If you like coding and building algorithms, you easily slide in electrical engineering. On the one hand, you will build circuits, and on the other hand, you will code them as well.
Let’s say you love algorithms and math, and then you can take computer science classes and get exposed to the backbone of this entire system. Many of the students I have are born coders. What I feel is, 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 entire process. We do this coding part a lot when we do chip design. Students develop codes which make chip testing very easy.
Q. What should I choose between BTech and the dual degree programme?
BTech is a four-year programme, and a dual degree is a five-year programme. In a Bachelor’s degree, the timeline is packed, and you have to do so many things in four years. The dual degree programme also has a busy timeline, and you will do everything that a BTech student does, but you will also pursue your research project. A student works with a teacher one-on-one on the research project part of the dual degree.
Some of the research that dual degree students have done with me is among the most outstanding work I have seen. In dual degree, students finish their BTech in four years, and then they have one year for their research and love it.
What is your goal? Are you going to work in the core electrical areas, or are you planning to appear for the civil service exams, or do you want to join a bank? If you are going to do the latter, then there is no point in doing a dual degree. If you are doing MBA, then don’t chase a dual degree. But if you want to work in the core areas and get a deeper sense of electrical research, then 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 pursue PhD.   
Q. I am interested in mechanical and electrical engineering. Which branch should I choose?
In every field, if you do well, you will have scope. Today’s industry is highly interdisciplinary. You may be an electrical engineering guy, but you might be working with a mechanical engineer to build something. We have many electrical engineering students in IIT Bombay working on small-scale submarines, car developments, and other areas. There is a constant trade-off with computer science engineering, mechanical engineering, and others. You will get a chance to choose your minors and electives.
Q. What do we study in the four-year BTech programme in electrical engineering?
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 bit advanced to take you up to the “next level”. Some classes are also very high level, more like electives. There (in electives) you can choose what you like. For example, you can select from electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical, and others. There will be a lot of freedom when making that choice.
Q. I don’t think I will get electrical engineering in IIT Bombay. Should I go for electrical in new IITs or ECE in new IITs? I am asking about ECE since it is usually ranked higher than electrical.
In my opinion, it does not matter which IIT or which institution you study at. If you wish to do electrical engineering, I will not worry too much about the nomenclature. So many students do not make it to an IIT, and I tell them not to lose heart. It’s just an exam. You can study BTech at another college and then go for MTech in IIT.
Q. Should I prefer an older NIT over a new IIT for the same branch?
My advice is that do not worry so much about the ratings and rankings of each institution. Do the best you can and try to find some field you like. Don’t get too worked up on whether you should go for IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, or some other IIT.
Q. I am interested in aerospace engineering. If I opt for 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 is very natural. So, I will (advise) you to take baby steps.
If you choose any one of the engineering streams (electrical or aerospace); we teach you how to learn. Once you learn how to learn, then you will catch up.
Q. What are the skills needed to join electrical engineering?
If you have studied well during Class 12you already have the skillset. Everything you need, we are going to give you here on campus. You don’t have to worry too much about any stream you join. Don’t get too stressed out before joining IIT Bombay. Have fun before joining, because when you are on campus you will be working very hard.
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