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Coffee with Venkatakrishnan about Life at Purdue University

21 July 2008 2 Comments

Hi All,

Continuing with our series of interview for better understanding of life at various universities, today we have a Venkatakrishnan from Purdue University. Venkat comes from NIT Trichy Electronics and Communication department. He completed his B Tech in 2007 and immediately went to Purdue.

So without further ado, it is Coffee with Venkatakrishnan


Coffee with Venkatakrishnan – Life @ Purdue


* Brief Intro about yourself..

I am Venkatakrishnan doing my Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue specializing in Digital Signal Processing and Communications. I passed out of NITT in 2007 from ECE department. In my free time I like to pursue cricket, table tennis, quizzing.

* Entry Criteria:
– Approx CGPA range : 9+
– Research Experience at undergraduage level: Does not seem to be a must. But some project experience is needed. I did do a project at IISc (cant term it anywhere near “research” level) in Speech Processing. Most students I see in Purdue have some experience either in undergrad or it could be in a tech company.
– Gre & Toefl scores range: I would say GRE 1350+ , TOEFL – may be 110 + in IBT.
– Does the university require subject GRE? No.

* Aid scenario:
Aid scenario I would go ahead and say is one of the best among the top schools in USA! .. 99% of PhDs come in with aid …if ur from IIT u get aid even for MS ….i have seen one BITS guy get aid …by aid i mean from ECE department. Departments like CS give aid to all admits i think.. even MS…..
Purdues ECE department almost certainly does not give aid on admit to MS students.. PhD of course area all funded.. What is cool about Purdue is that there are lots of opportunities for funding in other departments…. especially in the Fall semesters.. example is myself who came in unfunded but was a MAth TA in 1st sem and CS TA in the second and now will be back to math in the coming sem… its a bit of running around at the end of each sem but if you try the probability of success is quite high… For any new unfunded admits the places to try are :

Department of Math (for the website and download online forms, fill out and fax it.. else if u get here go personally and apply).. They have a selection criteria based on ur engineering math performance and TOEFL scores…
Once you are selected to be screened, they simulate a classroom by making you go to the board and explain a calculus problem to a class..
If you get through this then ur a math TA… The only point I want to make is the initial screening is based on ur Engineering Math scores and in mathematical subjects…
So if you have a good performance in math related subjects in undergrad you will atleast qualify for the screening…. In screening they basically look for your speaking ability ..

Department of Engineering Education – TA for MATLAB etc …

Department of Computer Science (now its suddenly become tough to get TA here but still try)
College of Technology – Comp Science – Go to the building 3rd floor office and apply there directly..
The secretary will let you know of any openings ..they do not publicize it so you need to make personal visits ..

Department of Chemistry – there may be profs who want some guys who know programming for their projects / simulations …

Library – They offer occassional Assistantships
Speak directly to professors once you get here telling them you are keen on working. There are RA opportunities available now and then.

What you need as prereq are Programming, mathematics… If you are not fluent do learn C,C++.. The more programming you know the better are your chances for
funding outside math atleast in terms of TAs…
RAs will depend on your luck.. Your project experience in the field of interest of the prof …

* How much money should one shell out for the entire course if it completely unfunded..
If unfunded one should be mentally prepared to spend just under $40000 tuition for the whole course

* What are the living expenses?
If you share your room and live like 4 people in a 2 BHK it works out to around 400 dollars a month ..

* Career opportunities after the course?
Decent….. Have all the usual industry majors coming over. The same names that visit our nitt campus πŸ™‚

* Typical Money made during internships?
For our kind of line ..the pay is in the range of 24-32 dollars per hour. For 40 hours per week… for around 12-14 weeks …

* How easy it is to switch departments?
Not sure about this. I have seen a guy switch from Aero to ECE and he did have some minor issues but managed it never the less.

* How easy it is to switch from Phd to MS?
Not too difficult. Just that they will summon you and ask you the reason if u have give a valid one you are done.
I really discourage doing this intentionally though. It ruins the name of the undergrad college.

* Any other issues/ inputs which will be helpful.
Purdue ECE is a bit rank centric. Sometimes I get this gut feeling that they done even care which undergrad college you are from as long as you are top 3 or so in that college.
The 2 strengths of Purdue ECE is 1) Imaging / Video Processing 2) Nano Electronics
Lots of great work in this area is being done at Purdue ECE

Another interesting observation I made is that getting admits in the Spring sem is lot lot easier.
Funding is tough but in the long run it may be worth it if you are willing to take a chance.
Other than that It is a really awesome place with a lot and lot of Indians, Indian groceries etc. So if you are coming here you need not lug all the Indian food stuff.. you get everything in the campus …


Thank you soo much Venkat for sparing your time and answering these questions.

Readers, hope you enjoyed this edition of Coffee With Experts.. for previous episodes of Coffee with experts, click here.

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