Dr. Radha Krishna Ganti is an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India. He was a  Postdoctoral researcher in the Wireless Networking and Communications Group at UT  Austin from 2009-11.  He received his B. Tech. and M. Tech. in EE from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and a Masters in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. in EE from the University of Notre Dame in 2009. His doctoral work focused on the spatial analysis of interference networks using tools from stochastic geometry.

Memorable experiences

My hostel life in Saraswati is one of the best experiences I have. I was actually shifted from Godav to Saras and was lucky to have a single room which pissed off the others. All my friends were in the new wing while I was there in the older wing.

One of the other memorable experiences was Schroeter. In my second year, there was the volleyball final between Saras and Ganga. That was the deciding day for the Schroeter cup and that match went on till 4. I feel it was the best match played by any Schroeter team. There was a Radio Jockey in our hostel who went and announced that we had won even before the match got over, and then we lost ! So it was a huge mess. Schroeter is definitely something I wouldn’t forget. Till the last few games, people wouldn’t pay much attention but the finals were very intense. I used to play basketball for Saras.

Now, students take LAN for granted, but Saras was one of the first hostels where we as students put up the LAN cable, routers etc. I remember wiring my room (361) and the freshie wing completely.

I also remember Ant Reddy’s class. He was one of the best professors I ever had. But even before his first class, the seniors used to scare us about his class and how we were going to flunk his course.

On the first day of the class, we were terrified, when Ant walked in. He had a unique personality and used to wear white gloves and the whole tension in the atmosphere was unforgettable.

Extra-curricular-

I was also the Saarang Web-Ops Core in 2003 and I also used to maintain the IITM website, where I worked with some members from Computer Science department. In Shaastra I particularly enjoyed Math Modelling. I used to paint, and my friends and I used to be involved in setting up and providing requirements in Saarang.

Change in the department from his time as a student to the current scenario-

We had one of the most fascinating faculty and one thing you could find was the faculty were unbelievably strict at that time. Ant Reddy used to be binary. In the quizzes, you either got 30 or 0. Aravind, Giri, Bhaskar and Ashok taught me. Hari had also just joined. In that sense most of the faculty who are still there. They used to expect a lot from us and used to take teaching very seriously. As a student you had a different opinion of the faculty but now that I am on the other side, I realise the unimaginable amount of effort they used to put in teaching. The courses haven’t changed much. The buildings were repainted recently but before that the paint was the same as that was there in my time. The posters in the corridors are much older and haven’t been changed even from Shanthi’s time.

Now the research in IITM has gone up. We have a lot more faculty. Earlier one faculty member used to take many courses but now we have many teachers.

Decision to come back as a faculty-

I knew when I was doing my PhD that I wanted to become a teacher and do something on my own terms. Then I got married and it was a nice opportunity to come back. This is one of the strongest EE departments. Though overall IIT Madras may be lagging in ranks due to some other reasons but I feel the EE department is pretty strong.

I was a bit hesitant to come back to Madras, because I would be working with the same people who taught me. I still find it quite odd to call the faculty by the first name, especially Giri who was my advisor. I also started taking the digital communications and Aravind who used to take a similar course when I was a student was very happy about it. Overall I was very well received.

Hostel memories-

One day, I received a call from one of my friends, who is now a recruiter at placements. He was from Godav. At that time I went and saw my old room (it was locked). I remember that I used to be a vol for this small canteen in the hostel where we used to sell snacks in the evening after dinner. First time I went there, I didn’t understand the system so well and the seniors conned me. I guess seniors take advantage of you when you’re a freshie. I also remember Diwali where we used to send crackers from our side to Godav’s side. We also used to take our plates and go bang it in front of their rooms on our hostel night. Mess food as usual was poor. On some nights it used to be really bad and on some they used to just give bread and curd rice.

Movie nights used to packed. Whatever the work,people just used to go to the movies. I sometime still go and see the movies but now its quite empty.

Message to students-

IIT is a great place to work. You have worked hard and come here. Nowadays I see there are two classes of students-very enthusiastic and those who are not so much enthusiastic. Very enthusiastic students take like 6-7 courses and overburden themselves while the others don’t read. I think it would be great if people found a middle ground and pursue their hobbies simultaneously. Btech is the time to have fun but you should understand the main purpose of your study. Nowadays Saarang and Shaastra are becoming these big budget programs and people are spending a lot of time on these and sometimes even neglect their academics. I mean you should not come to IIT Madras and fail in mathematics. It’s not reasonable.

Also please be engineers. After coming here, I see a lot of students moving into non-engineering fields. It would be nice if at least 40% of the students went and did further studies and built things. It would definitely take some time before you start understanding your core courses. I agree that we as faculty should also introduce more courses to make the core subjects interesting, but it’s not as if from the first day you start seeing the beauty of things. So have some more patience. In my year, especially in Communication, 80% of the people Apped and now they are doing extremely good. Don’t overburden yourself by doing 20 courses and not doing anything in detail. Please attend classes. People think they know more than the instructor. Don’t form impressions on the first day and give the instructors a chance. Do well and enjoy yourselves here.