May 22, 2012

Why an Integrated M.Tech. in Earth Sciences from IIT Roorkee?

Another year. Another JEE. Another round of entrances. Another round of happiness (or shock). People wondering what on Earth an "Integrated M.Tech." means, well, you've come to the right place. Those who have a general question about the college, visit this link. There are two courses in Integrated M.Tech, both offered by IIT Roorkee, namely, Geological Technology, and Geophysical Technology. If you look at the counseling brochure given to you, you'd be greeted by bureaucratic jargon, and believe me, it does not speak of what you are gonna experience here.

I have completed two years in Geological Technology and let me be very clear, I have no regrets whatsoever. I know this branch is very unheard of and you've a lot to ask, so let me take you through it. I would be talking about Geological Technology in particular, but most of those would apply to Geophysical Technology as well.

These two disciplines started in the 2007-2008 academic year, along with three others: Integrated M.Sc. in Applied Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. Back then, the names were M.Tech. in Applied Geology and Applied Geophysics. These names, in no way, sound exciting, right? Well, the then HOD must have thought the same and renamed them. Anyways, one important thing to note is that it is a 5 year course and you get an M.Tech. directly (no B.Tech.) I don't see any way that it could affect you though, as only your highest degree is relevant, and you would be treated at par with someone who has completed a four year B. Tech. followed by an M.Tech. Popularly known in the campus by the abbreviations GT and GPT, these are arguably the courses involving the most fun in the whole institute. Here's what you must know about them.

First Year is irritating:
The first year, all the branches learn the same stuff. This is done mostly to give you a rough idea about each and every branch possible. I agree there would frustrating subjects like Biotechnology but you just gotta get over 'em.

Department is Wonderful:
From second year onwards, the classes would be held in the department. The professors are really good, and Geology is not very hard to grasp, believe me. What is important is that most of our professors are renowned personalities in the field not only in India but abroad as well. Barring a few here and there (which department doesn't have the occasional 'Hitler'), I am sure you would get along really well with all of them.

No worries about attendance:
There are departments in IIT Roorkee (which I would not name), which are renowned for handing out attendance backs(which, in IITR, is equivalent to an F Grade). They are so ruthless that even the occasional final yearite is handed a back, which bars him from joining his new job, or another university where he might have got selected. Not the Earth Sciences. Some of my batchmates (unnamed again) get through with less than 50% attendance, when at least 75% is required by 'law'.

"GT Matlab Padhai Khatam":
One of my friends (Okay, not unnamed this time. Here's a link to his profile; please do not spam him with queries, just comment below and I will get back to you ASAP) came up with this line in our first semester in the department. He has been true more often than not. As compared to other branches, we get better grades by studying for lesser time.

Field Trips:
The best part of my course is the field trips. Field trips are 1% study, 94% fun and 5% photography. Have a look at my first field trip though the lens.

It's all about Rocks:
People will say (and you will definitely feel) that this is all about rocks. But you would be surprised how the rock world can amaze you! Take gemstones for example. They fall under this category! Take the granite (you would come to know that all granites are not technically granites, and all marbles are not marbles) in your kitchen. Well, what can I say? Rocks rock.

The Scope:
Well, let's say you have survived 5 years in this department. Then what? The senior most year has just passed out (well, technically yet to pass out as the convocation is scheduled in August), and most of them have gone for jobs. No just any job. A career in Schlumberger or Shell is no joke, with a handsome package to boast of. That is one reason everyone is jealous of us: We get the jobs with minimal efforts. If you have a high CGPA, you can also go for Research (Okay, I admit, that is just a fancy way of saying that you are going for a Ph.D.) And if you have lost interest in everything, you can always be an entrepreneur.

Engineer + Scientist = Geologist:
The best part of taking up this branch is that you can leave your options open. You can go join a company, calling yourself a Geological Engineer, or go for research, propel yourself to a world class Scientist.

Now going into a bit of technical stuff. *Jargon alert*

What others say:
In this branch, (technically) we are oriented towards exploration. Petroleum Exploration. Mining Exploration. Ground Water Exploration. Remote Sensing. If you mention this to a common man, the name Geological Technology might go through him. (In the worst case, he might even end up calling it Social Science) Don't worry and keep calm. No matter what, YOU would be responsible for running the Energy sector.

What if Coal and Petroleum reserves are used up?
Firstly, by the time these things are predicted to end, you would be 70 and sipping iced tea with your wife and children in some island off the coast of Peru, enjoying the sunset. Coming back to the question, you will NOT be jobless if the reserves end up. As you're the one responsible for exploration, it is your duty to make sure they don't end up. Also, with present technology, we are able to extract only about a fourth of the total oil in a reserve. So, we have three times of what we used up still intact somewhere deep beneath us, waiting for someone (it could be you!) to come up with better technology.

You may say I am very optimistic. Fine, let's see what would happen if Oil and Gas does run out. Just imagine the situation without any other alternative energy source. The world would be in mayhem, not just you.

Mankind might shift to nuclear energy. How do we generate nuclear energy? Uranium (or any other radioactive material). How do we get that? Mines. Where there are mines, there are geologists.

Geothermal energy. That is totally you, isn't it?

Hydro energy? Dams are huge projects, but Geologists are very important there as well. Without proper analysis, your dam could bury itself before the construction is even halfway done.

So basically, even in the worst circumstances, your dear future is secured. I know that no one gives the JEE with the target of taking up an Integrated M.Tech at IIT-R, I sure did not, but it is a pretty good option, mind you!

I believe I have answered most of your questions, but there would be many more. Feel free to leave a comment below, and I would come up with a response ASAP.

UPDATE(June 2013):

I had written all of that last year, just after my second year was completed. It was a good time and I meant every single word I wrote. Alas, it has been totally downhill from that point. Let me explain my personal journey in the last two semesters.

In the start of the third year, we are joined by about ten (in our case, it was seven) pure M.Tech. students (coming through JAM, not GATE). Each of them have a bachelor's degree and have worked rigorously for three years in Geology. They are pitted against us in the same classroom with the same examinations- when we have learnt Geology for just one year.

It's like they have had two years JEE coaching and we have had a 30-day crash course (with no knowledge of JEE before that) and both the groups have to give the JEE. Who has the advantage?

Anyways, there is one more problem. Adding those seven newcomers increased the strength of the class to over thirty, introducing relative marking! Basically, the happy-go-lucky ones like me are screwed, at least in the academic sense.

Now, I don't blame those seven, some of them are good friends, I blame the system- it's simply unfair, at least for most of us. There are still people from my group of integrated students who manage a 9+ CGPA even now, but the story of the bulk is just sad.

Even the field trip in the last semester (which I had really enjoyed in my second year) turned really sour for many reasons, and I sincerely hope that you have a better experience.

So, what did I do? First things first, I didn't try hard for a Geology internship. I had an interest in programming, thanks to IMG, and I worked hard to get a Google Summer of Code. It has been a great journey in the GSoC so far, and I hope I can build on that!

UPDATE(July 2014):

Another year on, this post continues getting views near the counselling period. I though I should inform you guys about one change- the M.Tech. program through the JAM is no more- there will be no new students joining you in the third year. You can continue on your happy-go-lucky way. But one word of caution- companies prefer higher CGPA (no matter what your second year seniors say), so try and maintain a good one, no matter how much it sucks.

BTW, I have another Google Summer of Code, in addition to a lot of freelancing- I write technical articles for SitePoint and Kinsta (which pays really well though). I am also the editor of SpiceForms. I guess my life has taken a turn away from Geology!

Liked this post? Have any suggestions? Just let me know. Feel free to comment below!

1 responses:

Kaushal said...

Hey man, glad to find someone from this stream. I am a B.E. student from gujarat planning to get into the M.Tech program. Can you give some basic idea how addmission procedure works for who completes bechlors elsewhere. Mail me if possible at

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