Subhayan Sahu, Bachelor of Science (Research) student (2013–17), who received his degree at the Convocation on 5 July 2017, on his time at IISc
There is an exceptional amount of historical weight associated with a student’s first visit to the hallowed campus of IISc. After all, this is where the brightest minds in Indian science have studied and worked for more than a century – this has been the workplace of several illustrious scientists such as CV Raman, GN Ramachandran, Satish Dhawan and CNR Rao. The lush green campus with its historical buildings and a century old tradition of scientific research seems to be a wonderland of its own kind!
Being the youngest member of the scientific fraternity here at IISc gives us a unique viewpoint of the Institute. Taught by practicing researchers, who are actively pursuing research in their respective fields, we are encouraged to inculcate a scientific temper and study science as it is “done”. This is often at odds with how science is taught in other centers of higher education in the country. The free exchange of ideas between professors and students, a result of the postgraduate nature of the Institute, allows the students to develop a democratic approach towards science. And most importantly, the research environment in the Institute allows us to start “doing” science at the undergraduate level itself. The biggest takeaway from the undergraduate course is not the sense of accomplishment at having studied at the best university in the country; it is instead the feeling of involvement with the science that is done here in IISc.
A distinctive feature of this course is its interdisciplinary nature. A lot of modern science is done at the interface between disparate fields of study, and an interdisciplinary undergraduate education is invaluable in this regard. The course also involves a basic training in engineering, which comes in handy in all research activities. I was particularly impressed by the humanities modules, for it ensured that even as budding scientists, we were sufficiently sensitized to social, economic and political issues.
For all that the Institute has given us, the undergraduates, we have also carved out a niche in the campus, with our active participation in several technical and cultural ventures. The undergraduates in IISc organize their own technical and cultural festival, Pravega, which in its fourth year is already one of the biggest in the country. We have our own magazine, Quarks, to capture our myriad creative outputs. We have developed a healthy, symbiotic relation with the postgraduate students in IISc, by taking the advanced classes with them, and partaking in common cultural activities.
Four years have passed since I entered the hallowed campus of IISc, awestruck and amazed by its tradition of excellence. But, even today I feel the same sense of wonder while cycling past the historical Main Building – the only difference is that now the feeling is accentuated with a sense of pride at having been a part of this scientific legacy! Four years as undergraduates in IISc has truly enriched our lives.