It was a gift that got the Jammu boy logged into the right calling. “When I was in Class X, I became fascinated with computers,” says Nishant Sharma, 29, computer engineer. “When dad bought me one, I wrote a chess programme on it. I was able to beat the computer, and it gave me a great feeling of achievement… I never had any doubts about what I wanted as a career.”
After getting BTech and MTech degrees in computer science and engineering (SCE) from IIT Delhi, Sharma and a bunch of classmates and teachers co-founded the institute’s first student-led start-up, a technology design house called KritiKal Solutions, in 2002. After a successful incubation, the company moved to Noida, its brood increasing from the seven full-time members then to over 80 employees today, including those in its subsidiary. This year, the company is targeting a turnover of $1 million.
“What is going to be the hottest new career is not predictable,” states Sharma, Chief Technological Officer of KritiKal. “What is predictable is that a competent professional in any field will always be in demand. Having said that, computers are now a permanent part of the human social fabric. Jobs for computer science experts will be there in the foreseeable future.”
That is why CSE is a sought-after programme among top rankers. Think about how pervasive computers are today — college kids flaunting their latest tech toys; farmers gathering before a PC monitor to check the daily crop prices. NASSCOM data shows more people buying computers leading to hardware revenue growth with a corresponding growth for software. Sandeep Sen, Head, Department of CSE, IIT Delhi, says the scope in this field is “unending”, the economic meltdown notwithstanding.
What’s it about
Computer science is the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation, and of practical techniques for their application in computer systems. The study programme for computer engineering — the discipline is also called electronic and computer engineering or computer systems engineering — combines both electrical engineering and computer science. It involves studying the design of digital hardware and software systems. Prof. Sandeep Sen from IIT Delhi says that the BTech programme in computer science and the MCA programme, to an extent, stress on problem-solving paradigms rather than the use of specific software like Excel and PowerPoint. The emphasis is on comprehending the principles behind creating such complex software
A computer engineer often carries work home, but a typical day goes something like this.
10 am: Reach office, ask team about the status of projects, weekly/biweekly project meeting with the team, work on project proposals, conference call with client from India or abroad
2.30 pm: Lunch
2.45 pm: Back to work, more of the same thing, talk in or participate in the weekly ‘masti ki paathshala’ — internal lectures series on topics of professional interest
8 pm: Back home
The average salary for fresh CS engineers from good institutes is about Rs 4.5 lakh-Rs 6 lakh a year. Candidates typically start as trainees or development engineers, and then move to be design engineer, senior design engineer, (sometimes s/he might become architect and chief architect), project leader, (s/he might become business unit head) and then CTO, when the pay can range from Rs 20 lakh-Rs 30 lakh a year
A scientific temperament
Logical and reasoning skills
Good mathematical skills
Ability to work hard and sit at a computer for long hours
How do I get there?
Take science with maths at Plus Two level. You need to clear a written test to get into a Bachelor’s programme in CSE at the IITs or institutions like the National Institutes of Technology. Prof. Sen suggests if you can’t get into a UG programme in CSE at an IIT, then you could try for the IIT’s MTech, for which entry is not as competitive
Institutes & URLs
IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, Madras, Roorkee)
IT, Banaras Hindu University
Indian School of Mines University, Dhanbad
Indian Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad
BTech in CSE
Computer science dual degree
BE (Hons) computer science
Motilal Nehru National Institute Technology, Allahabad