50th Convocation in Five Charts

A fresh batch of students bid farewell to IIT Kanpur as the 50th Convocation of IIT Kanpur was held in two sessions on 15th and 16th June, 2017. A total of 1544 students graduated, with 599 students from the undergraduate programs (including double major) and 945 from post graduate programs (including dual degrees). Following the practice of the last few years, the institute published the graduation data as part of the Convocation Brochure. 

The number of graduating B.Tech and BS students, organised by their branches follows this distribution.

The overwhelming strength of the Electrical Engineering (EE) department is apparent; one is more likely to run into a B.Tech EE student than a UG girl in IIT Kanpur !

The following chart represents the strength of graduating dual degree type A (in parent departments) students.

In terms of strength of students, Mechanical Engineering (ME) is at the top of the list. In terms of the percentage of students opting for a dual degree, Economics (ECO) and Mathematics and Scientific Computing (MnC) are the most preffered, data shows. Using last year’s convocation data, we can get a comparison between the 4 and 5 year students. ME graduated 62 B.Tech and 35 BT-MT. The number for ECO stands at 13 BS and 26 BS-MS and for MnC, 28 BS and 23 BS-MS, translating to 67% and 45% dual degree students for the Y12 batch for ECO and MnC.

Anupreet Porwal, a dual degree student from the MTH department, cites four major reasons for this phenomenon, the first being a historical hangover. “Mathematics was always offered as a 5 year program before Y11 and following the example of successful seniors is natural in such a case. Even though this effect is eroding with time but there are companies which hire only dual degree students from this department, which brings us to the second reason, placements. Mathematics has continued to perform exceptionally in placements, and the extra year gives more exposure to the subject and the opportunity to explore others as well, through electives. Thirdly, some students also use the extra year to eclipse their lacklustre UG CPI by working hard for a year and making the PG CPI respectable. Last but not least, some students have a deep interest in the subject and the exemplary faculty at IIT Kanpur invites them to stay a year longer since it is a much cheaper option than going abroad.

Speaking on the same topic, Alok Ranjan, a dual degree student from ECO believes that it all started with the first batch that had the option of graduating in four years. “At the end of 4 years, when they were preparing for placements, they found themselves competing with the previous batch who had studied economics for 5 years. Considering this a disadvantage, most of them chose to pay respect to tradition and opted for an extra year. The same scenario repeats every year and this trend perpetuates itself. The MS curriculum for ECO is not as rigorous as other departments in terms of thesis and credit requirements, and this makes the decision to stay back easier. Added to this the fact that students are free to do an extra internship makes the option quite attractive. Another factor, unique to the department is that a lot of economic consultancies and government jobs require students to possess a post graduate degree in the subject.”

The data of students opting for a dual degree type B/C (in a different department/MBA) reveals that only one student each from seven departments chose this option. This probably shows the lack of awareness or motivation to study an alien subject for an extra year.

If we look at the total number of dual degrees, ECO attracts the largest number of students. Prof. Deep Mukherjee from the Department of Economics shared his opinion on this. “First and foremost, the saturation of ‘pure’ engineers in the job market today pushes people to acquire specialised skills that could possibly differentiate them from the crowd. A dual degree in Economics produces a very unique skill set which equips students with an understanding of market forces in addition to their core knowledge base. Due to the lack of supply of such students, they are being quickly hired by companies. Secondly, the close relationship between the discipline of economics and engineering fields makes the transition very comfortable. So, if a student has a firm footing in his/her parent engineering field, he/she is deemed fit to enter economics at the post graduate level. This belief is cemented by the presence of numerous role models in the professors of economics in the US who didn’t begin their journey with economics.”

The trends observed in the double major data reflect the overwhelming obsession with CSE.

Out of the 13 students who took the option of a double major, 8, which translates to 67%, chose to complete it in CSE. All the three students from MSE chose CSE as their second subject while 2 out of 3 in CE chose the same. This trend is stronger in branches like MSE and CE probably because they are notorious for the lack of core job opportunities. So, students try to supplement themselves with more in-demand skills. This view was corroborated by Anshul Goyal, a Y12 student who graduated this year with a B.Tech in MSE and double major in CSE.

Data shows that the EE department holds the distinction of graduating the most number of students in all the programs except PhD, where Chemistry pips it year after year.

Prof. Debabrata Goswami from the Chemistry department told Vox Populi, “The present faculty strength for EE is 41 versus that of 30 for Chemistry. However, there is a large number of graduating MTech students in EE, who would also require faculty research commitments. A typical faculty in Chemistry would try out the small scale problems with the limited MSc research resources and requirements that they get and they would save up their larger problems for their committed completion with the PhD students.  On the other hand, it is possible, due to the more involvement with Industry and faster timeline issues, a typical EE Faculty would want to address problems more suited to the MTech students. This could be the reason for this interesting statistics. Nevertheless, it is heartening to note that Chemistry has the largest share of the graduating PhD students from IITK.”

Written by Simrat Singh