Ashish Gupta is an alumnus and Gold Medalist of Computer Science And Engineering Batch of 2002. He talks about his life and career with Aditya Sood, DD batch of 2020 and Saurabh Shwetabh Singh, B.Tech. batch of 2020 and shares his experiences.
Q. Sir, you graduated from the very first batch of the department. Could you tell us what it was like studying in the initial days of the department?
I joined ISM in 1998 and being the first batch there was excitement as well as uncertainty about placement and recognition in the industry. There used to be a constant discussion about choosing Petroleum instead of CSE as the former was considered as USP of ISM Dhanbad. CSE department was new with very basic infrastructure. Even colored computers came in the computer center when we were in 2nd Semester and initial excitement was to make new Yahoo/Hotmail email accounts. Except for a few, many of our batchmates worked on computers for the first time. We used to have limited faculty and there was mutual learning as we went through the CSE syllabus. Our HOD, Dr. A. Chattopadhyay along with Prof. P.K. Jana and Prof. G.P. Biswas was very helpful and put a lot of efforts into making sure CSE department shines and has a good name in the industry. They had arranged external faculty from BE college, Jadhavpur University, ISI Kolkata for taking elective courses on Image Processing, Computer vision, Graph theory and Artificial Intelligence. Overall there were many initial challenges and hiccups being the first batch. Our learning was more experimental than experiential which brought out the best from us.
Q. College life is always an important phase in everyone lives. What were your favorite parts of college?
College life is very refreshing and gives a new perspective on life. You become more independent and responsible, and learn the aspects of time management. You make a lot of friends for life. They are like a family away from home. There is a sense of competition among the peers but in the end, everyone is fighting his own battle. For me, the best part of college was making friends for life with whom you study, play, roam around, spend time and talk at length without any constraints..
Q. It has been 16 years since you graduated. We would love to know about your journey since then.
During our final year, two companies had come for campus placement. I got placed in one of them and was very excited to join the new company but unfortunately, due to downtime of IT industry in 2002, all of us got rejection letters during our final semester. I then decided to pursue higher studies and joined M. Tech. in Computer Science in ISI Kolkata. Most of our batchmates took a similar decision of further study (MS/ MBA) or applied to jobs off campus. In today’s time, I feel everyone is doing great in his/her own domain. After completing my M. Tech. In Computer Science from ISI Kolkata, I joined Novell Software in Bangalore. My second company was NVIDIA Graphics where I worked on making video encoder/decoder powering mobile/handheld devices (currently known as Tegra series). I switched again in 2007 to Freescale Semiconductors (currently NXP India Pvt Ltd) and since then I am with Freescale/NXP for past 11 years and serving as Engineering Manager (System Validation). We make networking SoCs which goes in Router/IoT/Industrial/ Auto Gateway applications and now venturing into 5G wireless space.
Q. The institute was recently granted the status of an IIT. What are your thoughts on the same?
IIT is a great brand and I feel it helps the institute in getting the right status. The JEE entrance examination for ISM started in 1997 and at that time we also thought that the ‘IIT’ tag could have added a lot of value to the CSE department. ISM is a well-known name for all the other streams like Mining, Petroleum and Mineral Engineering. Granting the IIT status will only add more luster to the name of ISM and a large part of the industry will now connect to ISM.
Q. What advice would you give to the current crop of students to make the most of their time at the college?
I feel students should focus on gaining a solid understanding of basic CS concepts of algorithms, data structures, OS, Networking and Computer Architecture. It will be good to have proficiency in different languages like Python, C, C++ etc. Languages are like ingredients of making food. With these ingredients, one can make various delicious dishes (applications). Apart from learning, cherish the college time as you won’t find that atmosphere anywhere else.
Q. As an industry veteran of 16 years in one of the most fast-changing fields, how do you keep yourself updated?
Learning never stops and there is so much to learn every day. We are making next-generation SoCs which are more powerful, energy efficient from previous ones. One needs to read up lot many more documents to keep up with the technology. The Internet is a good source of information as well and having a lot of tutorials on any new subject. But it all starts from the basics. If basics are unclear, advanced concepts will also become unclear. So it is important to keep your foundations strong.
Q. What are your suggestions for possible goals the department should focus on in the current times?
In the current world, I feel there are upcoming trends for many new technologies and CSE department should focus on these areas as elective courses. 5G wireless is one of the key technologies of the future having a vision of massive broadband, a large number of connected devices, and mission-critical applications like driverless cars. Computer vision for ADAS kind of applications. Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning is the technology for the future, which has already entered into our daily lives. Security/Cryptography is an evergreen area which is always needed when everything is connected (IoT/Cryptocurrency applications).
Q. What is the one thing you wish you knew before starting out on your professional journey?
Nothing in particular. Just go with the flow. Your knowledge will take you through the journey.
Q. What were some important lessons (personal and professional) that you learned during your college years?
There are different phases of life. At some point in time something seems to be of utmost importance and after some time it’s of no value. It’s good to have healthy competition among peers/friends but after all, everyone’s journey is different. So, stay focused on your goals, keep learning and enjoy life with family and friends. Never ignore your health which is the real treasure.
Q. Lastly, anything you would like to say to the students and faculty members of the department?
I feel CSE department in current time is doing great. A lot of top-notch MNCs are coming for campus recruitment and giving good opportunities to students. It’s all because of the hard work of faculty and students because of which IIT (ISM), Dhanbad is getting the recognition in the industry. Keep up the good work and take IIT (ISM), Dhanbad to newer heights. All the best!