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Team HashLearn got a chance to talk to Rahul Raj, AIR 620 in JEE Main and AIR 1479 in JEE Advanced 2015, currently pursuing Electrical Engg. at IIT Kharagpur.
Rahul hails from Dhanbad, the coal city of Jharkhand. He is also a Most Viewed Writer on Quora for JEE related topics and loves to mentor budding JEE aspirants.
Q. What motivated you to prepare for the JEE exams?
Rahul Raj: Honestly speaking, the idea to prepare for JEE exam came from my parents when I was in class 5 or 6. At the time I didn’t understand the importance of studying at an IIT. As I grew up, my interest in science intensified as I kept learning. I wanted to learn more and with good companions around me.
IITs are believed to be the centers of excellence in science & technology and they attract the best pool of talented students from all over the country. I was determined to go. The idea of being a better engineer motivated me to prepare for the JEE exams.
Q. If you could go back in time, what would you change about your preparation strategy?
Rahul Raj: There were some pitfalls in my preparation strategy. Focusing on finishing a few books rather than reading a lot of books would have definitely helped. I should have also focused on reading more about what I was learning than other non-academic topics. It’s good to use a big part of your time in JEE preparation.
Mathematics was my weakest among PCM and I ended up scoring least in Math. It was because I neglected Math as I was scared of it. It helps to pay the most attention to the subject you are weak in.
Q. What made you opt for Electrical Engineering?
Rahul Raj: I spoke to a lot of seniors before counselling and pondered over the many combinations of colleges with branches. Eventually, it was my interest which helped me pick Electrical Engineering.
I was always interested in physics, especially Electricity. I spent a lot of my time wondering about things like alternative sources of energy and electrical engines. Therefore, I chose Electrical Engineering in IIT Kharagpur.
Q. How do you feel about opting for Electrical Engineering now?
Rahul Raj: I feel that I was right to listen to my own mind rather than blindly following others’ advice. I am confident that I would have not enjoyed any other branch of engineering. I totally enjoy the laboratories and theory classes here!
Sometimes, I feel that students from other branches will get placement opportunities than me, but I immediately know that a well-paying job is not everything – the joy you get in doing in your work matters more. So, I am pretty happy about my decision.
Q. What is your favourite domain in Electrical Engineering?
Rahul Raj: Electricity production and its storage – I found it fascinating since childhood. Especially when I learned that a single lightning strike has enough electricity to cater to the whole world’s needs for a year! But the problem is that we are unable to store that electricity.
I hope to come up with a solution to such problems!
Q. What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years?
Rahul Raj: In the next five years, I see myself fully charged – inventing new devices which will be of great use to humanity, meeting a lot of scientists & spending time in my research laboratory looking for new ways to help the world!
I also look forward to being a part of TIFAC (Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council).
Q. Would you go back and change the stream you picked if you could?
Rahul Raj:No! Not at all. I seldom regret over my past decisions and advise others also to do so. I always remember these lines:
Trust no future however pleasant;
Let the dead past bury its dead,
Act, act in the living present;
Heart within, and God overhead!
Q. How would HashLearn Now have helped you as a JEE aspirant?
Rahul Raj: I believe HashLearn Now is very helpful – it gives you a chance to talk to IITians, practice problems and analyze your level of preparation. Since the world is getting digitally cross-linked, the relevance of these portals has grown.
Q. A final piece of advice for all juniors?
Rahul Raj: I would advise juniors to listen to their mind, find out where their interest lies in and only then choose their branch. Do not take a branch and college just because everyone is going for it or there is so-called “greater scope” in that branch.
I didn’t go after colleges just because those were most sought after, but many of my friends suppressed their interest & took any branch to get a popular college.
You stay in a college for 4 or 5 years, but the branch you pick stays with you for the rest of your life.
Do what you like. This is your life and remember, you don’t die twice!