Tale of Tenacity: Puppala Manoj
Nishanth | Mar 26, 2018
Hell for few, Heaven for others; the GATE examination is written by thousands of students across the country every year. Among them, there are only a few who manage to reach cloud nine! One of those is Puppala Manoj. A man of focus, commitment and sheer will, Manoj, a fifth-year student made the Department of Mining Engineering proud by securing a stellar rank of All India Rank(AIR) of 20 in this year’s GATE examination.
On a cool evening, Team MM decided to have an interactive chat with this humble soul to know about his tale. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.
Team Monday Morning(MM) : Tell us something about your childhood.
Manoj: I was born and brought up in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. I did my schooling at Oxford Public School till my 10th grade and then chose Sri Chaitanya College for arguably the two most important years of my secondary academic life. During the course of my entire childhood, I always prioritised academics and got good grades.
Team MM: How did Mining Engineering at NITR happen to you?
Manoj: My JEE Mains had gone well but unfortunately, the marks I had secured in the intermediate exams was not up to the mark. I also made the mistake of filling up choices incorrectly. Thus, I managed to bag the Department of Mining Engineering at NIT Rourkela; I thought why not give it a try and thus started my journey!
Team MM: Tell us about your life at NITR, from being a fresher to a 5th-year student.
Manoj: It was very difficult here, being a fresher. I used to have coping problems, I was unable to interact with the crowd here. Still, I managed to make a few friends here, they were very helpful. I felt like they were protecting me from this life. But things changed after that. They got better. I do not look at it now with any regrets. I started reading books as a hobby and thus got better.
Academically, it was not very good. My first year had a lot of unnecessary topics which I also hated. Things were not going well back then. But from the second year, things started getting better. By the time I got into my fourth year, I started loving my departmental courses.
Team MM: When did you start your preparations for GATE?
Manoj: I started preparing a week before the exams. As I had a little experience from the previous year’s GATE, it helped me this time. I actually wanted to start my preparations long back, but because of some personal reasons, that did not happen. Out of eight subjects, I thoroughly studied five of them and the rest three, I just read briefly so that I could relate the terms in the examination.
Team MM: Did you take up any form of coaching during your preparations for GATE?
Manoj: No. I totally relied on the various textbooks. The thing with the course of Mining Engineering is that there are not many materials for GATE preparations. So, I had solved the previous year’s questions thoroughly.
Team MM: Tell us about your source of information during your preparations.
Manoj: Last year, I had completely dedicated myself for a duration of 50 days during my preparations. I started from the foundation and read individually from the subject textbooks. One of the books written by one of our professors, A Guide for Mining Engineers by Prof. A. K. Gorai, helped me a lot during my preparations.
Team MM: How many hours did you dedicate towards your preparations? Any strategies used?
Manoj: I used to study for around 12 hours daily during that one week. Coming to strategies, I think it is necessary for a student to practice all the previous year’s questions as many were repetitive this year. Also, one needs to read around the topic so that it would help him/her in general during the examination.
Team MM: What were the hurdles that you faced during the course of preparation?
Manoj: I lacked basics in a few topics which made it difficult for me. I feel the institute lacks foundation in a few subjects; they were not appealing to me. During my preparations, I used to read those topics that were conceptual and had numerical rather than the theoretical ones.
Team MM: Has NITR helped you in your preparations for GATE?
Manoj: Not directly, but indirectly it has helped me a lot. I managed to gain a lot of knowledge from the courses taught here. I’d like to thank my friends and seniors apart from the professors who were very helpful.
Team MM: Tell us about your internships across various mines in Telangana.
Manoj: I interned at three places- GDK-11 Incline Mine Godavarikhani, SCCL, Medapalli OC Mine Godavarikhani, and KTK-5 Incline Mine, SCCL Bhupalapalli all in Telangana. I believe every student who is keen in mining should pay a visit to a mine at least once. It is not possible for every student to visualise the mines, mere description won’t help them. Also, I feel they would also help a student decide his future. My experiences at the mines were really good, I gained a lot of knowledge.
Team MM: Were you involved in any kind of extra-curricular activities here at NITR?
Manoj: I was not interested in the social life here. But still, I worked as a designer during MINARE, the annual mining fest. Other than that, I was not interested in social life. Working during MINARE helped me to get to know a lot of people and it thus improved my friend circle. (Smiles) I have also participated in the mining fests of IIT-KGP and IIT-BHU, where we bagged a prize in the latter. Apart from that, I pursue photography as a hobby.
Team MM: Having secured a stellar rank of 20, what are your future plans?
Manoj: I am still weighing my options. I am not sure if I want to go for a PSU or go for research. I actually wanted to continue in my project domain i.e GIS. It is multi-disciplinary which might help me in changing my branch in the future.
Team MM: Any message for the readers?
I would say to start exploring your options early so that you can decide later on. Most of the students here including me started off late which is not good. The earlier you start, the better it is.
Team MM congratulates Manoj on his prodigious achievement and wishes him good luck in all his future endeavours.