Tale of the Astounding: Anupam Samantaray
Where clearing the cut off is an arduous task for many, and standing out first in the GATE examination is beyond comprehension, Anupam Samantaray has proven that no dream is too big to achieve. A highly focused, hard-working and down to earth individual like him with clarity in his goals, a desire to stride ahead, and determination to overcome every hurdle, he definitely deserved every feather on his cap. He has made NITR proud by securing AIR-1 in the GATE 2016 examination. Not only has he added this achievement to his list, but also bagged many placement offers high in demand in more than 5 PSUs.
From a humble beginning in Cuttack to securing the All India Rank One in GATE, Anupam Samantaray shared his success story with MM in this small interview.
MM: Tell us about your childhood. How did Electrical Engineering at NITR happen to you?
AS: I am originally from Paradip of the Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha, but I lived in Cuttack. I studied in Ravenshaw Junior College Cuttack and it was always my dream to get into an IIT. There was not much scope in Cuttack for rigorous training for these competitive exams like we find in cities such as Kota or Vizag, so the only option left for me was to do self-study and prepare well for the competitive exams. In my first attempt, I scored decently, getting myself a seat in NIT Rourkela in Electrical Engineering. I have always had a soft corner for electrical as a subject, from the days of my +2 in Ravenshaw. In my first year here in NITR, I continued to pursue my dream of getting a seat in IIT and I put all my efforts in preparing for JEE Advanced. Ultimately, I secured a 4000 rank and I was eligible to join mechanical engineering in IIT Patna. I chose to forego it as my interest lies in electrical, and so I continued in NITR.
MM: Tell us about your life in NITR. It is heard that you aren’t in a single club, both technical and cultural ones. Why is it so?
AS: In my first year, I was not very outgoing and hence I didn’t know much about the clubs even though the club culture is very impressive in our institute. During my second year, I happened to focus a lot on my studies and had just started taking GATE preparation seriously. I couldn’t afford to lose that focus and concentration as I was afraid of getting into trivial distractions which will not help me achieve my goal. I confined my time-table to studies and sometimes took trips to sector-2 to feast on fast food as a recreation. I am a lover of Indian snacks like chaat and pani puri.
MM: How many hours did you spend each day on GATE preparation? What was your key to success and what were the resources which aided you in this process?
AS: I started preparing for GATE since my second year itself. It is very important to first develop your concepts and be thorough with the courses in our curriculum and then practise with test series. I took the online test series where I used to make many silly mistakes. I improved on them and in the exam, I performed well by minimizing it. My gross score was 80 and in the normalized form, I secured 88.39. I had never expected an AIR 1. I knew I had done well and was capable of a rank in the 20s or 30s but AIR 1 came as a surprise. NPTEL lectures, books, my notes, a handbook of formulas and course books was what I referred to. I never joined any sort of coaching classes.
MM: How has NITR aided you in this pursuit of clearing the GATE? Was BPCL your abode for reference books?
AS: I did not refer to library books much, and some Professors were really good who actually wanted to teach and some were not. Moreover, it wasn’t about getting aid from the institute. One has to do it all alone. Not attending coaching was a little tricky as I never got my doubts solved, but I somehow got through with it.
MM: You mentioned that you haven’t taken any classroom coaching for GATE. How did you manage to get your doubts cleared?
AS: Clearing of doubts and getting solutions to tricky questions were of a high concern to me throughout my preparation. There were times when I had to solve a tricky and lengthy question and the answers given in many books were either wrong or meagrely explained. I had to hunt for the answers in numerous sites all just to end up staring at the wrong answer. However, these instances were very less in number and eventually got the better of them by immense amounts of practice and relentless revision of concepts. GATE is such an exam which can be aced if the examinee has a strong grip over the concepts and an impeccable knack for solving problems at a steadfast pace.
MM: How was your internship in the power plant in Raigarh and L&T? How did you manage to bag these internships?
AS: The internships were very interesting and they helped me gain hands-on experience. As I have mentioned earlier, my concepts were very clear, which helped me answer many questions correctly. I am at a disadvantageous position when it comes to communication skills. GD is not something I look forward to. Yet my forte, that is having in-depth understanding which many others compromise on, bagged me these internships.
MM: Are you keen on taking up PG?
AS: I haven’t thought of joining M. Tech immediately. I want to gain a work experience of one or two years before I take it up. It always gives your career a boost when done so, and doing a PG after work will highlight your profile and give you an edge above the others.
MM: Now that you have many PSUs lined up for you, a PPO from L&T and an offer from TATA Steel, what’s next in plan?
AS: I applied for PSUs mainly like IOCL, Indian Oil, NTPC, PGCIL and BARC. I rejected the PPO that I received from L&T. The offer letter from TATA Steel is expected but I haven’t received till now. More so, I am more inclined towards PSUs. I would prefer them over these two offers.
MM: Any take home advice you would like to those who aspire to get good ranks in GATE? What is your success mantra?
AS: To all those preparing for GATE, I would strongly suggest rigorous practice and focused study. The most common mistake made by all during their preparation is that they study for one subject and then appear for the mock test for that particular one where as that will not show your true performance as this is not how you face the real test. Track your progress well and keep improving on your mistakes. My success mantra would be having clarity in my concepts and being very strong in the basics.