March 31, 2024

Dipankar Ghosh
(1999/B.Tech/Met. & Met. Engg./PHR)

IITKGP Foundation 

Four glorious years in IITKGP and the connection continues even to this day (two decades later)!


I spent four glorious years in IITKGP and when I think about writing about some of my cherished memories, I'm not quite sure where to start. Let me begin with how I got acquainted with IITKGP in the first place and my first introduction to Patel Hall where I spent three fun filled years. Looking back, I believe I was in class 3 or 4 and one of our neighbor’s son got admission in IITKGP.  Frankly we didn't know much about IIT at that point, but our neighbor mentioned that it is the place to be for the crème de la crème students of India, and only a select few can make it. Eventually our acquaintance’s son finished his studies and had a successful career with a start at Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Little did I know that eight or nine years later I will also land up not only in the same institute, but also have a chance to spend three years in Patel Hall!


I remember that soon after arriving in IITKGP in 1995, we had a freshers welcome at the Netaji Auditorium and the whole batch of about 400 plus students were there and our seniors gave us a very warm welcome. I distinctly remember a song performance as part of the welcome ceremony. It was “Dum Maro Dum” from the hit Bollywood movie “Hare Rama Hare Krishna”, and it was sung to perfection by one of our seniors. It is a rather difficult song to perform and for me it was a very energizing and impressive performance. Personally, I felt very welcome indeed! This is also an example of the diverse talent in IIT's where people not just excel in academia but also in various extracurricular activities.


I spent the first year (1995-1996) in VS hall of residence. For the very first time in life, I got introduced to students from all walks of life and from all over India. Frankly this was my first exposure to the various unique cultures in India with students from almost all states and from both urban and rural settings. This was something that I hadn't experienced in my school life and so it was a very enriching and eye-opening experience for me. Living on my own, the experience of living in a hostel away from family for the first time, getting used to the rather unpalatable food in the mess, growing together with like minded smart people, and getting to learn from them every day is how I would summarize my first year at VS hall. It was rather overwhelming at first, and a very humbling experience but also a lot of fun at the same time.


At the end of the first year there was a lottery held at VS Hall to determine our next residence hall, and I received a place in Patel Hall. In those days Patel Hall had quite a reputation and it was not supposed to be meant for the faint of heart! So, a batchmate of mine who also got Patel Hall in the lottery came up with a plan. We found out that we had a Patel Hall senior, who stayed close to where we lived in Kolkata. We decided to pay him a visit during the summer vacation and to get acquainted with him and ask him some questions about what to expect when we go to Patel Hall for the first time and start staying in the same hall as our seniors. So, one day my friend and I showed up at his house impromptu and started asking him questions about what to expect when we went to Patel Hall for the first time. Our senior didn't look so happy that we showed up at his house unexpectedly, and at the end of our rather awkward conversation, he basically said “Don't worry too much about going to Patel Hall, you will come out alive”. With these words of assurance, we came back home and had a long anxious wait in the summer of 1996 before we landed up in Patel Hall. When we indeed landed up in Patel Hall after summer vacation our neighborhood senior had a “few choice words” for us as a welcome greeting and it was very clear to us that he was not happy that we had showed up at his house during summer. Apparently, due to our visit his parents also had a lot of questions about Patel Hall and why we were there and inquired about our impending stay and this obviously made our seniors rather uncomfortable.

Patel Hall of residence (Circa 1997)


Another fond memory in Patel Hall is from Durga Puja in 1996 during the time of Mahalaya (which marks the beginning of Durga Puja). It was a weekend, early in the morning, and I was sleeping and suddenly I heard loud knocks on my door. I woke up startled and found that there were quite a few seniors standing in front of my room. I was told to get ready quickly, since we were going out to have Jalebi and tea, as was customary in Patel Hall during Mahalaya. We took out our bicycles and had fresh Jalebi and tea (free food paid by seniors) from the roadside food stalls just outside the campus and for me was a great way to start celebrating Durga Puja. I was not aware of this tradition before I went to Patel Hall, and it was a wonderful experience. Certainly, the best Mahalaya experience that I had so far!


Currently I work as a material scientist in an industrial R&D environment (working for a diversified industrial manufacturing company, 3M Co., located in Minnesota, US), creating solutions for the energy and the electronics market. So far, I have pursued a career in material science research and the seeds of my professional career were laid in IITKGP more than two decades earlier. In my third year we were trying to decide on a topic for our B.Tech. final year project, and I found out that there was a project listed that was related to nanotechnology that involved synthesis and characterization of metal nanoparticles coated with a ceramic layer (known as cermets). At that time, I only had some vague idea about nanotechnology being an emerging area of research and I thought that maybe I should try out that project. So, I had a chat with Prof. S. K Roy in the department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, and he said that the principal investigator of the program was Prof. S Ram in the Material Science Center and hence I should discuss with him. Honestly, initially I understood very little of what they had to say about this project work, but I took it up anyway.


Working on my final year B.Tech. project was a watershed moment in my life because it introduced me to the world of research and opened up my mind to this new area, which I eventually took up as my career. The next year and a half were probably the best and most productive time of my student life at IITKGP. I really enjoyed working on my B.Tech. project, interacting with my project advisors (Profs. Ram and Roy) outside of class, getting to know more about materials science and do some hands-on experiments in the laboratory. Eventually we got some exciting results, and I was absolutely delighted when my project advisors told me that the results were good enough to be published in a peer reviewed journal. We managed to publish the results later in a reputed journal in materials science and it still remains a special paper for me, filled with cherished memories! 


Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engg. (Circa 2017)


B. Tech batch of 1999 (Met./Mat. Engg.). The author is in the left-hand corner in the 2nd row. 


Now that I reflect on that period of time, while doing the B. Tech. project, I realize that there were a lot of learnings to be had that resonate with what I do even today. Being passionate about what you do, thinking critically and analytically about a hard problem, getting challenged with ups and downs of a research project, dealing with uncertainty, an intrepid approach to tackling new problems, never giving up, being humble, managing time and finding happiness in small successes are some of the things that I think are broadly applicable in the world of R&D even today.


My IITKGP connection is still active today. Over the last few years, I have had multiple chances to give seminars on topics of interest to the materials science / manufacturing community at IIT, thus providing an opportunity to visit the campus, interact with current faculty and students, and mentoring students in my department and networking with them.


As I look back on my 16 plus years career in industrial/applied research I realize how fortunate I was to be able to attend IITKGP, which kindled my interest in the world of research, opened the doors for me in my career (both academic and professional) and allowed me to pursue my passion in my professional life. I personally credit this to my training at IIT -Kgp, encouragement and guidance from my project advisors and other faculty members, my batch mates who are some of the smartest people that I know, and the unique environment that IITKGP provided. For this, I remain forever grateful.