Is there a need for research activities? Is it only for Ph.D. aspirants? And overall, is all the time invested in undergraduate research worth it? These questions constantly come up in the minds of young research aspirants. Let’s debunk the myth that research is not only for Ph.D. students!
Research is the formation of new knowledge, technology, and applications with or without using previously existing knowledge using a creative approach to create unique outcomes. Hence, research is a novel art in pursuit of new knowledge and applications. It’s a way one can contribute to the enhancement of scientific literature and technologies.
So, assuming now that one is interested in research, how to get started?
The two basic requirements to get started with research are:
- Identifying one’s field of interest.
- Finding the right mentor in one’s field of interest.
Identifying your field requires intensive literature reading and exploring various areas to find the best fit domain for you. Finding the right mentor is the factor that can make or break one’s dreams as a future researcher. To find the right mentor, you first need to explore the published work and also get to know the work ethics of your prospective mentor from senior students. Once both of these tasks are done, you are all set to embark on a life-defining journey!!
Undergraduate research requires the utmost passion and dedication. As research is not a part of the B.Tech. curriculum of most universities around the world, it requires intelligent time management to balance college curricula and research activities. In a way, undergraduate research helps develop a disciplined lifestyle in students from a young age.
Also, as a young researcher, one must learn that literature is a researcher’s best friend and that reading more and more is the only way to master a particular field and the art of writing research papers. As an undergraduate researcher, it compels you to excel academically in your area, and according to a survey on science.org, it has been observed that students undertaking undergraduate research achieve higher grade point averages in STEM courses.
Now, the question arises, What after B.Tech.? Research publications add significant value to your applications to the top schools for your MS and Ph.D. It is a clear indicator of your interest in academia, and since the pool of undergraduate researchers is small, it makes your application stand out from the crowd. Maintaining a research profile from B.Tech. gives you opportunities to network alongside your scientific community and also to learn from the best minds in your field of interest.
From a career perspective after B.Tech., research publications open a lot of research-oriented roles in various national and multinational organizations. These roles are not restricted to the computer science domain but to core engineering domains like electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautical engineering, and many more!!
The possibilities in job positions are endless, from R&D departments of MNCs like Google DeepMind to Government organizations like DRDO and BARC. Also, conducting research only boosts your proficiency in technical concepts, making you stand out in your job interviews. Students who develop a passion for research along their journey also have a fantastic opportunity for a direct Ph.D. after B.Tech. in some of the top universities in INDIA like IITs, IISc, and abroad.
In conclusion, undergraduate research enhances your overall academic profile and builds a fantastic work ethic in students at an exceptionally young age. It presents countless opportunities for students with various ambitions and areas of interest. I would recommend all B.Tech. students to try research and experience the joy of diving into the deepest and uncharted regions of his/her fields.
Dr. B Rajanarayan Prusty
Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Alliance College of Engineering and Design