A Success Saga: BSK GARGEYA
Niharika | Mar 19, 2018
“A dream becomes a goal when action is taken toward its achievement”
The following quote by Bo Bennet has been clearly proven by BSK Gargeya of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Department, who secured AIR 18 (the highest rank secured by any student across all branches in NITR in 2018) in GATE 2018 examination. While clearing the cut-off is a herculean task for many, the calm and benevolent persona, BSK Gargeya proved that no task is impossible if you have the will and perseverance to succeed. Highly innovative, focussed, down to earth, hardworking, authoritative, talented, committed towards work and optimistic were few of his attributes out of his endless qualities.
From a humble beginning in Hyderabad to a stellar performance in GATE, BSK Gargeya shared his success tale with MM in a candid conversation. Following are the excerpts from the interview.
Monday Morning (MM): Tell us about your childhood days. What were some of the highlights of your school life?
BSK Gargeya (BG): I hail from Hyderabad and have done my schooling from International School (founded by Dr Kakarla Subba Rao, a Padma Shri awardee) which follows ICSE curriculum. My mother did a lot of background research for the school admissions and opined that an ICSE/CBSE school would be better in terms of both academics and extra-curricular activities. I had encouraging teachers and my school days were fun. I was actively associated with extracurricular activities like music, dance and painting. I was also an NCC cadet in the Navy wing and cleared the “A” certification exam.
MM: How did Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at NITR happen to you? Was it your preferred branch from the very beginning?
BG: This is partly my choice and partly my fate. I had two options: to go to a good college or to go for a good branch. Initially, I was interested in Mechanical as I had an interest in “Properties of Solids” and “Manufacturing”. In the first round of CSAB counselling, I got Metallurgy at NIT Raipur, but I thought NIT Rourkela would be a better place. The Metallurgy department here is one of the oldest one and has a rich research culture. Moreover, NITR has a rich club culture which appealed me and at the end of the day, it was a well-informed decision.
MM: Tell us about your life in NITR. It is heard that you were a part of Axiom club. So how did you manage your academics with the club activities?
BG: In my First semester, I was slightly scared as the system was new and many seniors warned us about the grade backs and backlogs. Those things kept me cautious, I should never forget my duties and responsibilities towards my academics. I had a plan of joining a club, not just to learn technical things, but to also manage and organize events and have a healthy interaction with like-minded people. Maths had always attracted me and hence, I joined Axiom club. In my second and third year, I was the Treasurer of the club. Apart from that, I also joined NCC for 3 years as a cadet, attended two camps and cleared the ‘B’ and ‘C’ certificate exams. I also worked for Innovision in 2014 and 2015. But, I always felt that the extra-curricular activities should not affect my academics. My classes were never missed on the pretext of club activities. Moreover, I managed my time to cope up my Academics with extra-curricular.
MM: What were some of the conference papers you have worked on till now?
BG: I worked on the “Simulation of deformation in nanomaterials” under Dr Snehanshu Pal sir during the summer vacation after my 4th semester. I also got an opportunity to present a part of my work titled “The effect of Ti addition at grain boundary on the tensile deformation behaviour of Nanocrystalline Ni” at an international conference (ICAMMP-IV) held at IIT Kharagpur in Nov 2016. Another part of it was extended to a little more depth and was published as a conference paper entitled “An atomistic simulation-based investigation on the influence of Zr addition on the deformation behaviour of Nanocrystalline Ni”. During my 4th year, one more work titled “Molecular Dynamics simulation-based study of the tensile loading behaviour of silicone” has been presented as a poster in an international conference (ICN:3i 2017) held at IIT Roorkee in Dec 2017. All the three works were done under the guidance of Dr Snehanshu Pal sir.
MM: When did you decide to start preparing for GATE examination?
BG: Seeing the brighter future of research in Materials in various websites of IITs, IISc and foreign universities and as per the suggestions of Dr Snehanshu Pal sir, I wanted to go for higher studies in my 4th semester. So, I decided to opt for GATE as it would open many career opportunities. GATE not only opens the way for M.Tech, but also for many PSUs, some direct PhD programmes, and also to NTU Singapore, NUS Singapore which are top class universities in the world. I started my GATE preparation seriously from the 7th semester onwards.
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?
BG: I studied for about 3 hrs a day on weekdays and 5-6 hrs during weekends. During the winter vacation, I prepared for about 8 hrs per day. I scheduled my preparation until December, and kept the entire month of January for revision and practising numerical problems. A thorough preparation of 6 months is sufficient for GATE if one follows the prescribed syllabus.
In Metallurgy, the fundamental lies in Thermodynamics and so, I invested a lot of time on it. I watched NPTEL lectures of Prof. B.S. Murty (IIT Madras) on “Advanced Metallurgical Thermodynamics” and lectures on “Physical Metallurgy Principles” by Prof. R.N.Ghosh (IIT Kharagpur). They taught in such a manner that a student would develop an interest in the subject. After you are done with your fundamentals, the rest part is comparatively easy. Listening to the class lectures and notes also matter a lot. I feel that’s an important component of any preparation.
Apart from video lectures, I referred Gaskell book for Thermodynamics, Reid-Hill book for Physical Metallurgy, Dieter book for Mechanical Metallurgy and for Characterization I referred notes which were available online. It will give you very good command over the subject and build your fundamental concepts. There are certain subjects which are not yet covered till GATE exam like Welding. For that, you can look up to Ashis Das in Quora. He has suggested very good books and links to the notes pertaining to metallurgy.
One more factor which aided my preparation was the Open Electives. I always looked for the electives which were in close relation to my branch. Hence, I chose OEs such as Composite Materials, Introduction to Materials Chemistry and Basic Manufacturing Technology, which unknowingly boosted my preparation for GATE.
You have to decide the subject as well as its weightage. Thermodynamics and Mechanical metallurgy are fundamental subjects, so you have to read it thoroughly and get your concepts cleared. For Extractive metallurgy, I followed Prof. Smarajit Sarkar sir’s slides on Ironmaking and Dr Snehanshu Pal sir’s notes on Steelmaking. I also followed Physical Chemistry by Shyam Sudin and H.S. Ray book for Non-Ferrous to build my concepts.
MM: What were the hurdles that you faced during the preparation period?
BG: The first hurdle which anyone would face is “from where to start”. This is a common question because you don’t know which subject is fundamental. Fortunately, the fundamental subject in Metallurgy is Thermodynamics and I identified that because of my guide.
“If you want to understand Metallurgy, you have to understand Thermodynamics.”
After that, I followed the GATE syllabus. Another obstacle which I felt was: where to practise the numerical problems? As per the suggestions by many professors, Dubey Upadhaya is a very good book for practising solved problems of Thermodynamics. For Physical metallurgy numericals, one can practise from Vijender Singh book.
MM: How instrumental was the institute in general and department in particular to your success in GATE?
BG: Institute played a major role in achieving my success and I am fortunate enough to have the facilities. As far as GATE preparation is concerned, one doesn’t need very high experimental facilities but you need to have people who can clear your doubts. Luckily, I have my professors and my guide. My guide, Dr Snehanshu Pal sir has always encouraged to ask me doubts and cleared it with requisite answers. He was very supportive and all the professors of my department have played an instrumental role in my success.
MM: You haven’t taken any classroom coaching for GATE. So, how did you manage to get your doubts cleared?
BG: I did not take any classroom coaching for GATE because I couldn’t trust the answers which they provide. The standard of the question paper (was a bit high) did not match with the actual standard of the GATE question paper. I followed all the books and materials as prescribed by my guide Dr Snehanshu Pal. I also practised previous year GATE question papers as they give you an idea about what to practice, but one should not rely entirely on it as the question papers are getting revamped every year. If I had any doubt, I used to contact the professors. For all my doubts on any subject, I contacted Dr Snehanshu Pal, who was my guide for the B.Tech thesis project. He suggested me all the requisite books and study materials for the GATE preparation.
MM: How was your internship in the IIT Madras? How did you manage to bag the internship? Did this internship experience help you in your pursuit of the discipline?
BG: The experience of internship at IIT Madras was really nice. My guide, Dr Murugaiyan Amirthalingam was extremely jovial and encouraged doubts and discussion sessions. One of his most striking quality was, whenever I asked doubts, he made me answer it by asking me a series of fundamental questions. This approach encourages discussion, augments your interest and the associated concept gets revised. He was very flexible with lab timings but was serious about work. My field of research was on “Carbon dissolution in bearing steels”. For the first 40 days, I performed the experimental part and in the last 15-20 days, I did the Modelling part. So, I enjoyed the combination of both experimental and modelling. The research internship has provided me with an opportunity to witness the state-of-the-art laboratories in one of the best research institutions of India, which motivated me more towards research. In my free time, I prepared for GATE.
MM: Having achieved a stellar rank in GATE, what are your future plans? Are you going to join a PSU or pursue higher studies in Materials Science?
BG: I would like to pursue higher studies, M.Tech and then a PhD because I feel this field (Materials Engineering) has a lot of scopes which needs to be explored. Since times immemorial this field has been creating a sensation in the past years and it has got a very bright future. I want to contribute significantly to the mankind in the materials sector as I strongly feel that materials are the need of the hour and this field has a huge potential.
MM: Any advice to the readers, especially for the future aspirants of GATE willing to achieve success.
BG: I feel that one must identify his/her passion and must follow it in order to excel and succeed in his journey. It is true and practical that sometimes we do not get the result in spite of the hard work. However, we should not get depressed and must fight back with a healthy and a competitive spirit. In all our efforts, we must be truthful, honest, clear at our conscience and ethical. Recalling the quote printed on the whiteboards in our institute “No one who does good work will ever come to a bad end, either here or in the world to come” as said in Bhagwad Gita. I strongly believe in being an inspiration, rather than being a mere attraction.