It is no longer important where you did your BTech, MTech or PhD from, he says. “What did you do during that time has become more important. It is not just about the CGPA or the first class with distinction. You will be asked, what did you do beyond your course work. Therefore, projects, internships, setting up startups or working with them, hackathons too become important,” he says.
Jawahar, whose research interest lies in areas such as computer vision, machine learning and multimedia systems, says that even the traditional linear fashion of learning, wherein one does a BTech and then follows it up with a Master’s degree and then PhD, is no longer the norm. “I am teaching a course called Foundation of ML where I have working professionals, undergrads, MTechs, MSs and PhDs in the same class. A few years ago, this was not the case as there was a rigid way of deciding who would be eligible for which course. We have been practising this open system for some time, and we see many other educational institutions now following it,” he says.
Jawahar notes that students these days are more courageous and are willing to take risks. “They know that if they can develop the right skills, they can get a job at any time, and therefore they are willing to experiment with new ideas,” he says.
A few years ago, if I had to interview a student for research work or internship, I had to only look at the student’s foundations in the subject. But now I see a lot of students from rural areas who have taken the initiative and have done something on their own
C V Jawahar, professor & dean, R&D, IIIT Hyderabad
He points out that the internet has opened up many learning avenues. So there is not much difference between the resources that are available to a student in India as compared to someone who is studying in MIT or an Ivy league. “A few years ago, if I had to interview a student for research work or internship, I had to only look at the student’s foundations in the subject. But now I see a lot of students from rural areas who have taken the initiative and have done something on their own. If you are curious and can take initiative, you can do a lot…and all you need is a laptop and data connection,” he says.
On the trend of a majority of BTech students opting for computer science, Jawahar says the trend started when the IT sector started hiring in large numbers. But, he says, as the numbers of fresher hiring as well as salaries come under pressure, the trend will change in the coming days.
To succeed in their careers, he says, students must ensure that they follow their passion. And besides a strong foundation in academics, students will need to demonstrate that they can practice whatever they have learned. “You should be able to solve problems and work in teams,” he says.