This post is all about the RA (Research Assistantship) category admission in the department of CSE, IIT Bombay.
I should have written this post long ago. Now that GATE 2013 result is out, I am getting quite a few calls/messages asking about RA admission. So here it is. To the best of my knowledge and belief. I have tried to shape this post as a FAQ. See Update in the end.
What is RA?
Computer Science and Engineering department of IIT Bombay offers two types of admission to M.Tech program – Teaching Assistant-ship or the conventional two-year M.Tech program and Research Assistant-ship which is a 3-year course. Of course, there are other categories like Project Staff, Self Financed etc. A detailed information about department admission policy can be found in here.
Why should one choose RA?
Simply stated, the 3 year programme is a more relaxed programme. Reflect back: did you just mug up the answers to the questions when you did your B.Tech/BE programme? did you ever feel that if you had more time, you have done more justice to your dreams/capabilities/brain cells? Unless you go back for a Ph.D, it is unlikely you will get a chance to learn from the ultimate “masters” in their individual field.
Is RA category a part-time M. Tech. Program?
Absolutely NOT. There is a common misunderstanding that since it is a 3 years course, it is part-time. In fact, somewhere in the M.Tech brochure, I found that the phrase “part-time” is mentioned about RA category. Well, your M.Tech degree is NOT part-time course, but your RA project is. There is no difference between the M. Tech. degree a TA and an RA student receives after the completion of the course.
What is the Admission Procedure?
Each year around 200 aspiring candidates are called upon for the admission test. Depending on the number of the applications, the cut off may vary. Still, if your AIR is close to 400, you have a good chance of being called in for the test. The test is a two-way screening process. First there is a written test. Question used to be of MCQ type, but since 2012 they changed the patterns. After the written test, a presentation session is held where professors explain what positions are open under him/her, what is the project all about, what are the requirements etc. You can expect around 20 vacancies each year. During the presentation the answers scripts are corrected and a cut off is set and approximately 30/40 students are shortlisted for interview.
These candidates are then asked to fill in their preferences of projects. Candidates are interviewed separately for each choices. However, due to lack of time (the entire procedure is conducted in one single day) one can not make it to all projects. Interviews are so scheduled that a candidate attend most interviews. It is guaranteed that he/she could appear for first two choices. After the interview, the respective professors selects the more deserving candidates and result is put up with in 3/4 days.
What is the selection criteria?
Once you get a call for the written test, it all depends on how well you perform on that very day. Your written marks, and to some extent, your GATE score will carry a good weight during the interview, but believe me, if you completely mess up the interview, there is a very little chance that you would get through just because you did well in the written.
Any special skill set required?
There is no such hard requirement but, having research exposure would give you an edge over other aspiring candidates. You may have noticed by now that cracking RA has like 1 out 10 chances. Sometimes, a project may demand a skill set in particular e.g. “A 2 year working experience in machine learning field”. In those cases, the professor in charge will make it clear during the presentation itself.
Does recruiting companies discriminate TA and RA students?
None to my knowledge. Except for the duration of the program, there is no difference between a TA and RA student. That is, current RA batch will sit for placement with the next TA batch. Companies do not discriminate between TA and RA students. So don’t worry about RA placement at all.In fact, this year out of 19 RA students, 5 have received offers in US (total US offers is 15) 🙂
What’s Project RA and what’s Institute RA? What’s the difference?
As I mentioned, after clearing the written test, you would be asked to fill out a preference form for projects you want to apply. The list of available positions would be made available to you during the presentation. During the presentation you would realize that most positions are for specific projects. These positions require candidates with a strong inclination and/or experience in that particular field. These positions are Project RA. Below are the list of research group that usually take students every year are –
+ CFILT – Natural Language Processing
+ Machine Learning
+ CFDVS – Formal Design and Verification
+ VIGIL – Computer Graphics/Vision
+ SynerG – Computer Networks/Systems
+ GISE – Geospatial Information Science and Engineering
+ Aakash – The Aakash tablet project
Project RAs are required to work for the project as their “RA” work. Once you’re selected as a project RA, you will join one of the research groups (as listed above) in the dept.
Apart from these, there would another two/three projects which do not fall under the category of “research” projects as these are not associated with any research lab of IITB. There are primarily three projects/areas where RAs are taken –
+ SysAd – System Administration. These RAs are responsible for the maintenance of all CSE Servers, labs, PCs, routers, access points etc. If you have a knack for tweaking with stuff, if you ever wanted to be the “admin” and have control over everything what others use, then my friend, this is the place for you!
+ ASC – Application Software Cell. These guys are responsible for developing and maintaining the online interfaces of IIT Bombay. Form the very first M. Tech. application portal that you saw while applying to the very delicate accounting system that takes care of employees salary and such stuff, all are products of ASC. So if you are interested in web development, then ASC is the perfect choice for you.
+ CC RA – CC or Computer Center is the central system administration group of IIT Bombay. They maintain and control all of IIT B’s network. Often they take RAs from CSE dept.
NOTE: The above list is only partial. Please check the official list of positions here.
The general idea is that if you’re a Project RA, you pursue your Masters Thesis on a field related to your RA work, under the supervision of the Professor in charge. In that way, you can use your two-year RA work experience in your Thesis. However, this is not a mandate. You can opt to work with any professor of your choice with the consent of your RA prof-in-charge. Institute RAs on the other hand, are free to approach any professor without anyone’s consent. There are both upsides and downsides for this. Upside is, if you are in a project that you like, but don’t want to do your thesis on that field, you have to take the consent and convince the other prof to take you in. Sometimes it goes smoothly, sometimes it get dirty. Insti RAs don’t have to deal with all these stuff at all. On the contrary, Project RAs get to use their RA work-ex into their thesis. They also get chances to apply for fancy internships (your prof-in-charge may suggest you one). Insti RAs don’t get these opportunities as they are not attached to any research groups. Of course you can decide your thesis topic early (during end of 1st year) and get associated with one of those groups.
So I guess, I have answered most of your queries. Still if you want to know more about M.tech Admission in CSE, IIT Bombay, feel free to leave a comment.
The Q&A section has more information than what you presume. Please give it a look before posting a new question. The answer you are looking for may have already been addressed.
- The written test pattern is likely to change every year. Please check written test details.
- Coding tests are recently introduced as part of selection procedure.
- Please check the list of available positions here.
- People who are interested in ASC (presentation is available at http://portal.iitb.ac.in/joinus) please fill the following Google Form ASAP.