BC or not to BC

To be, or not to be can still be sorted, but to prioritize branch, or institute, that is the real question! Many of us have had this di...

To be, or not to be can still be sorted, but to prioritize branch, or institute, that is the real question! Many of us have had this dilemma, which has no perfect answer to it. Everyone would say, ‘interest ke according decision lena’ (choose according to your interests), and other ‘helpful’ words like ‘xyz institute/branch is better’ or ‘abc branch mein bahut scope hai’ (abc branch is doing very well – regular scope, not the insti scope yet!).

We do try to gauge our interests, and the offerings of a branch/field, but still, not many of us are able to make completely informed choices. Be it rank, societal pressure (peer, family, neighborhood, Kapoor saab – who’s children couldn’t get ICE), or the lack of sources, and understanding, of what a particular field would actually be. Something ends up preventing us from taking the ‘best’ decision.

But there’s always a second door. Branch-Change. One year down the line, we know more about engineering, know more about the branches (or have reliable first-hand sources – yeah, seniors too, but more importantly, professors); And most importantly, we know more about ourselves! In short, we are better equipped, and have an opportunity, let’s make things better.

To BC or not to BC

This article is to help you get an overview of how branch-changers feel about their decisions, how much it impacted on their life (in general), and CPI (in particular).

Reason for Branch Change

Largest chunk of BCs did it owing to ‘No Specific Reason’. This is the fraction this article essentially aims to diminish. Although most of the BCs were satisfied with their decision, majority of the part which wasn’t, came from this segment! On a happy note, a fair share of students have done BC owing to their research interests.

Two other popular reasons are a repulsive DIC, and conversion from a Dual Degree to 4-Year program. Both of them are highly subjective issues, and anyone having such concern is advised to necessarily speak to professors (and/or seniors) in the departments.

How good have things been?

Major proportion of the respondents are extremely satisfied with their decision of BCing. Digging deeper, to see how people stand on other parameters, check the following plot.

In this plot, on x-axis we have how easy was it to adjust in the new branch, i.e. we take into account how amicable the new branch-mates are (also includes how public-mingler one is!). And on the y-axis, we have satisfaction with the branch (including all academic/non-academic aspects). The colour code represents how good BCs think their decision was.

CPI Correlations

This article has used data of 50+ students, out of 75+ students who BCed in 2017 batch (and a fair share of 2016 batch also, for some plots). Thanks to all of them. The data has been decent mix of all sorts of performance, and therefore is a fine representation. That said, no predictive modeling would be justifiable enough, simply because CPIs are extremely subjective. Quoting Batman (with subtle necessary modifications) – ‘It is not what the data shows, but what we do (in the semester) that defines us (and our CPI).’

Here’s a direct scatter between Sem 2 CPI and Sem 4 CPI.

Interestingly, a fair share of BCs maintain their academic performance during the 3rd sem, but tend to fumble in Sem 4. One possible explanation is that their concern of performing nicely and the thought in the back of the mind that their performance could see a drastic fall are sufficient motivation to maintain the third sem performance. However, the confidence gathered due to a stable (or better than expected) performance here, turns slightly parasitic during fourth sem. 

The data does speak so, but a proper hypothesis test isn’t done and nothing can be said with certainty. Nevertheless, all thoses who do BC, perform good in Sem 3, but stay all the more cautious in Sem 4 (:-P).

Branch-wise average CPI changes (and cutoffs)

Everything does fall on a bell-curve! The plot shows the distribution of CPI change (Sem 4 - Sem 2) for all BCs (irrespective of their branch).

And now, branch-wise cutoffs and average CPI changes.

**BC Cutoff Source - SSS, UGAC (IITB)

Most of the BCs do see a slight drop in their CPI, but are still happy with the decision. Learnings :

- CPI isn’t everything (and certainly not the only source of happiness)
- If you find the right match (academic interests, peers etc), numbers would matter less.
- This isn’t a generalization. Many BCs do see an upsurge of CPI too.

The most important point, which can’t be left unmentioned - a drop in CPI (in 2nd year) isn’t unique to BCs. Competition analysis, comparative advantage etc are all true, but an equally, if not more, important reason behind this is grading scheme. Senior year grading schemes tend to be more austere and volatile. In short, anyone’s CPI ‘might’ decrease irrespective of a branch change (and therefore, give this factor only as much importance as necessary).

Would you go back (hypothetically)?

Most BCs are sufficiently happy with their decision, and won’t choose using the Time Stone (for revert purposes at least!). Still, ~17% entries might consider it as an option.

Branch isn’t something which could limit anyone from an eventual fulfilment of one’s aims, and from pursuing one’s interests. But if there’s a possibility of choosing a seemingly more direct path, why not choose it (this is generally the case, also for many of the 17% above, when you have a good enough CPI, but don’t have a good enough motivation). Not all intuitive and easy roads are bad!

Concluding Remarks

Maturity to accept that branches stand horizontally, and not, how the JEE-you might have preconceived, vertically, is the most important ingredient to a good decision. Other things include googling enough, finding interests, and then speaking to profs and seniors about how close to reality all that you’ve googled is. Try to speak to as many professors and researchers as possible (current department and prospective new department). Also, BC can’t be reverted, prefer a wise call over hasty decision. And make sure, to be the ‘balloon you’!

Good luck to all aspirants. And wishing all an amazing sophomore year.

Testimonials/Words of Advice :

Malhar Prajapati (Going to 3rd Year, B.Tech MEMS to B.Tech Aero)-

While Wright Brothers were working on the plane, many other scientists told them that, "Heavier-than-air flying machines are not possible". But now we see thousands of planes flying across the world. So, indeed there has been a lot of development done in Aerospace, and still, we can do much cool stuff in this branch and also we can explore some new developing field in this branch because the sky has no limit. This was kind of my motivation before entering into Aerospace. Today, whenever I think about that summer, I feel really happy that I took Aerospace. I am really enjoying all the courses. I am getting answers to questions which really blew up my mind when I first got them. I am also interested in coding and thankfully Aerospace keeps me attached with that in almost all the course project. If someone is thinking about CPI, then I won't say there is less competition, but it's comparatively less than Mech, Elec, and CS. So, I get time for managing my other commitments and exploring new things.

Cherub Kapoor (Going to 3rd Year, B.Tech Civil to B.Tech Mech) -

So, I had not come to insti with an intention of changing my branch. First sem went well and I thought let's maintain it in my second sem so that I can atleast have the freedom to opt for one if I want to. I did not enjoy the core of either of the branches very much, and I was well aware that my CPI would most probably drop. So, there wasn't any tangible benefit that I could see while making that decision, and hence I was a little sceptical about it, because I couldn't reason out the step I was taking. However, one parameter was that the people in Mech are more competitive and ambitious, which means that I would always be on my feet, always trying to work harder. I saw this as an opportunity to grow even further. Another thing was that Mechanical had more diverse exit options and various fields that one could enter into, if I happened to develop an interest in core (or even a core-noncore hybrid) - Robotics, Automobile, IEOR, Research, Plant Management etc. Also, I learnt that more companies were open to Mechanical students, both in internships and placements (I had heard about FMCGs). Plus, a lot of my friends were shifting to Mechanical or other branches, and I knew that I will get a FOMO later on. Finally, the very mentality ki Mech toh Civil ke upar aata hai according to IIT JEE rank list. Hence, with these reasonings and a positive inner intuition, I took a leap of faith and went for the change, and although my DR  has gone down and I may not like the courses, I still think it's was one of the best decisions.

Anuj Diwan (Going to 3rd Year, B.Tech EE to B.Tech CS) - 

Being a resident of Mumbai, choosing IITB EE at the time of admission was a very natural thing to do since I liked electronics and computers nearly equally well at the time. I have always loved pure mathematics, thinking hard on math problems. After a year in the institute, I realized that I find CS-related subjects like graphs, algorithmic design, data analysis and ML/DL more enjoyable, prima facie, than EE. After talking to seniors in both CSE and EE, as well as people who changed from EE to CSE, I took the decision of changing my branch and I think it has been a great decision.

To decide whether to change branch, my advice would be to ask yourself, ignoring thoughts about job prospects, salaries, and other such factors, whether you will be truly happy and feel joy when in the new branch. If your motivations for changing to CS are driven solely by things like job prospects and income, you might not have a very good time. Asking seniors about second-year courses, life in second year, etc. also helps tremendously in deciding. Research extensively on both your new and old branch to take an informed decision.

Personally, I feel my decision was correct and I have enjoyed my second year immensely doing CS work. While CS has heavy workload and has pretty intense competition, it is a wonderful department to be in for anyone who is really interested and passionate about it. The well-known CPI drop in CSE second year does happen, but is nothing to really worry about if you’re working hard and giving your best to your work. Think carefully, explore both branches in your summer break, and choose wisely! All the best!!

Mrigi Munjal (Going to 3rd Year, DD MEMS to B.Tech MEMS) -

Don't go after the traditional hierarchy of branches. That's only the first year. Get out of the JEE state of mind. Only pick a branch if you're ACTUALLY interested. Don't go for the glory. There's no glory in dropping grades and being a mediocrity in a more competitive branch. All departments have the same international reputation if you're eyeing higher education. All consult companies pay no attention to your department, just your CPI and other achievements.

Shyam Thombre (Going to 3rd Year, B.Tech Aero to DD EE)-

I would strongly advice the students BCing into specific branch to go through the curriculum of that branch and roughly get the idea what it all is about. Then compare it with what the seniors have to say. But most importantly one must be very clear why one wants to change his/her branch. What exactly do they expect in the new branch and is it really the case. Do NOT follow the "Herd Mentality".

As for BCing into Elec, BTech is the obvious choice for many, which is correct. However, if one cannot get BTech and is going to take Dual, then remember, you CANNOT change your specialization easily, as it was possible in the past. So be sure about the specialization. Microelectronics and CSP are very diverse branches. So go through the topics of each and look which of them you find more intuitive. Finally, don't be afraid of BCing, thinking you will be alone in the new branch. There will be many BCs into that branch who will be your first friends in the new branch and the family definitely grows.

To Exchange, or not to Exchange

A semester abroad at a different college is something a lot of us consider at least once in our time in college. The prospect of spending...

A semester abroad at a different college is something a lot of us consider at least once in our time in college. The prospect of spending an entire semester at a foreign university can be equal parts tempting and terrifying - exploring a brand new country and way of life versus leaving early everything familiar behind for nearly half a year, not to mention the expenses involved. So, how many people do go for it?

The answer: definitely more now compared to a couple of years ago. The number of outbound students across the years has shown a generally increasing trend, in large part due to more and more people getting to know about exchange programs and students having more options to choose from, given the increasing number of MoUs being signed. When it comes to universities, Singapore based National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are the most sought after, together accounting for a third of outbound exchanges probably due to the TFlearn funding available for exchange to Singapore.

That was a general overview. Here’s a look at the department-wise and program-wise representation of students.

The number of exchange students from EE and Mech are almost equal to all other departments combined. While this could be attributed to the large number of students enrolled in these branches, the number of exchange students have been small from similar-sized departments such as Chemical, Civil and CSE. Across programs, nearly 90% of our outbound exchange population comprises of UGs, out of which Dual Degree students make up more than two-thirds.

Considering an exchange yourself? Odds are, you’re trying to figure out which semester would be best for it. We investigated to find out historical trends, shown below. The vertical axis indicates the semester of exchange and the horizontal axis tracks the percentage of total students (in the specific program) on exchange in a given semester.

During 3.1 (the first semester of third year) and 4.1, most BTech students are occupied with career decisions and therefore, the even semesters (3.2 and 4.2) have a large chunk of students going on exchange. On the other hand, Duals tend to highly favour 4.2, followed by 3.1 which is a close second. The more interesting part is that historically, 2nd year is the least preferred, often because students are late to realize that such an opportunity exists.

For those of you who are interested to know more about these programs, there’s ton of resources available online. For starters, here is a compilation put together by the International Relations Cell, IIT Bombay.

1. The data was sourced from the IIT Bombay International Relations Office
2. The source code used to create the visualizations is available on Github

IITB Alumni and Where to Find Them

The IIT Bombay alumnus is a rare creature, native to the marshy swamps of Powai. But over the last few decades the IITB alum has migrated...

The IIT Bombay alumnus is a rare creature, native to the marshy swamps of Powai. But over the last few decades the IITB alum has migrated to all parts of the world, constantly adapting to its new-found habitat. As avid zoologists enthu punters data scientists, we’ve foraged through the wilds and mapped out the creature’s nesting habits across the globe.

Let’s start with the country they reside in. Preferences have changed over the years, and the specimens who graduated in or before 2000 have been dubbed ‘pre2000’, while their newer counterparts, ‘post2000’.

As we can see, a significant percentage (~40%) of our alumni who graduated before 2000 have settled abroad. This number drops down sharply to <16% post 2000, which seems surprising.

But ‘abroad’ is a big term. Let’s look at exactly where in the world our alumni live.

As expected, most alumni live in India. USA takes up a good chunk of the second bar. In fact, four in every five alumni living abroad live in the United States.

But, over the years, has the brain-drain problem really changed for the better?

In recent times, alumni seem to prefer US less and less. Most of the slack has been picked up by India. This can be attributed to the rising opportunities in India, research and industry wise.

Here’s how the global distribution of alumni has changed over the years:

While the US dominated the charts in the past, recent times have seen a significant increase in the number of alumni in other nations. The main beneficiaries of this attrition from the States have been countries in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Let’s have a better look at the scenario back home.

Mumbai is clearly the city of choice for the IITB alum within India. 29% of all IITB alumni who have graduated till date are currently residing in Mumbai. Another surprising element is Pune’s third position in the charts. As a matter of fact, more than half of our alumni living in India currently are settled in Maharashtra. Cities like Bengaluru and Hyderabad have also gained good numbers in the recent years due to the IT boom.

Some other interesting facts that we found out

A majority of the Alumni in Kolkata are from the departments of Earth Sciences, Chemistry and Energy, which is unsurprising considering the fact that the cityscape and its surroundings are dotted with relevant industries.
• Considering the Middle Eastern countries are among the global hubs for infrastructural development and innovation, it is not surprising that nearly 30% of our alumni there are Civil engineers.
Around 50% of our Chemical Engineering alumni who are in India have settled down in Mumbai.We will soon be releasing another analysis of the work-sectors and job-profiles that our alumni are currently in.

We would love to hear from you on what more insights would be of interest pertaining to the alumni community. As for our alumni, we wish you the best, wherever you are. Remember, we know exactly where to find you.


1. Data from close to 20,000 alumni was used. All data used was provided courtesy of the institute.
2. All data obtained is through voluntary self-reporting, and may contain some inaccuracies or biases.
3. We have taken utmost care to ensure anonymity and privacy of all the individuals involved. Please share your concerns if you have any.

How IITB's Departments Fare in terms of Patents

IIT Bombay has always been a frontrunner in terms of ideas and innovation. In fact, IITB was awarded the National Intellectual Property Aw...

IIT Bombay has always been a frontrunner in terms of ideas and innovation. In fact, IITB was awarded the National Intellectual Property Award, 2015 for being the Top India Academic Institution for Patents. Of course, we wanted to see the numbers behind the scenes, and decided to take a look at all the patents IITB has filed in the last few years. Since 2000, researchers in the institute have filed over 500 patents.

As you can see, the growth in recent years has been phenomenal, with over a hundred patents filed just in 2015. However, a large chunk of these patents are coming from a few departments. Here's a look at the number of patents filed by each department, over the years, since 2005:

Circle area denotes the number of patents filed in year x by department y

Most of the larger circles are clearly concentrated among the Electrical and Mechanical departments. The difference has been more stark in recent years. In fact, the top 4 departments (Elec, Mech, Bio, Chemistry) together contribute 65% of all the patents filed by IITB!  To some extent this is because of the nature of the work done in each department - certain departments tend to focus more on product-centric output, while others lean towards theoretical research.
It can also be seen that while certain departments have been ramping up the patent activity over the years, others are still producing these in bursts.

A surprising thing we noticed in our analysis was that the month of June sees almost twice as many patents filed as most other months! So the next time your guide tells you that students don't work hard over the summers, point them here ;)

1. Data for some departments has been combined in cases when the departments merged - e.g. Bio-Medical Engineering with Biosciences & Bioengineering
2. All data was obtained courtesy of IRCC, IITB
3. The source code is available on Github if you want to play around with the visualisations

Students Notice 'Student Notices'

Every year, General Secretaries promise to outdo their predecessors in a number of aspects. While a lot of these claims are subjective, we...

Every year, General Secretaries promise to outdo their predecessors in a number of aspects. While a lot of these claims are subjective, we found one place where GSes have objectively been besting the previous years’ marks pretty much every year - The number of emails sent on Student Notices. We managed to get a hold of every single email sent on Student Notices, and analysed them. Here's how the numbers stack up.

[Click the image for a larger version]

In the last academic year alone, the GSes sent the students a cumulative total of 1,085 emails! As you can notice (no pun intended), in recent years, the GS Sports has been topping the list. Now you know whom to blame when you run out of space in your inbox ;)

But say what you will, Student Notices is how we all stay informed about campus happenings throughout the year. We traced a typical student's events calendar using Student Notices. Cult, Sports and Tech broadly capture the events happening on campus. Here’s what last year looked like.
[Click the image for a larger version]

You can see the sharp dips during exam season, and the huge post-exam frustration-busting peaks right after. The spring semester, surprisingly has many more events than the autumn semester. In fact, March (typically near the end of a council’s tenure) sees more events than any other month, across all three domains.

Perhaps more interesting that when the emails are sent, is what the emails talk about. We picked out the most frequent words used by each GS, tenure by tenure.

After looking at a few of the clouds, you probably realized that student tops the list for most GSes. GS Cult and GS Sports typically send out more event-orientated emails, with high usage of words like time, venue, event. Turns out that GSHAs have been the most polite among all the GSes owing to the high frequency of please in their mails! You can play around with the app and discover your own fun(ny) trends. Let us know if we missed anything interesting.

The SN mailing list is a treasure trove for data-analysis, and we’ll keep bring you more insights over the next few weeks.

Peace yo!
The Insight Data Analysis Team


Whether it's early in the morning, or late at night, it's undeniable that IIT Bombay runs on just one fuel: tea. You probably hav...

Whether it's early in the morning, or late at night, it's undeniable that IIT Bombay runs on just one fuel: tea.

You probably have a favourite chai spot too, where the milk-to-water ratio is just right, and the hint of elaichi that the chaiwala adds makes all the difference. Some others amongst us are not so choosy. All that matters is to get a cup of tea to keep you awake, no matter where it's from.

So how far from tea are you in your hostel at any given time? What about when you're in your class? Your lab? We take a look at all the tea spots in the institute, and try to give you a visual insight (pun completely unintended) into how these are spaced out - in both location and time.

Here's a map of all the places you get tea in the institute. Every mess, canteen, and tapri included. By my count, there's a whopping 45 of them.

[Click on image for a larger version]

How many could you identify? (Don't worry, there's a labeled version coming right up)

But I'm more interested in knowing where I could sit and work, while still being within walking distance of a cup of tea. I'm lazy and I'd consider one minute of walking reasonable. Some of my friends will go up to 2 minutes. Anything more is for desperate times only. So here's an animated map of what's within walking distance of every tea stall that's pen at a given time.

It traverses through the hours of the day, and shades the area within walking distance of each tea spot.

[Click image for a larger version, or here for a gfycat version, which is faster to load, and allows you to control the animation]

At 8 in the morning, pretty much everyone is in their hostel, and most messes are serving tea. In just a couple of hours, the bulk of the attention shifts to the academic area. If you're a late waker, too bad. Around noon, the hostel canteens open up again. The academic area is still flush with tea for those who can't afford to take a break.

Late in the afternoon, at around 5 pm, the hostel area becomes the focus again, as students returning from labs and lectures enjoy a refreshing cup. Or three. At night, the academic area runs out of options entirely. Hostel canteens serve tea till reasonably late, till the blips start to go out one by one, and by 4 am, all you can hope for is that the tapri outside main gate is open. Sleep beckons, but IIT stays awake, watching the clock strike 5, then 6, and 7, till the messes open again at 8 and provide the much needed respite from a tea-less existence.

It's kind of hypnotic to watch the bubbles appear and disappear, and live through the day in one GIF. And now, as I wrap up this post at a healthy 4.30 am, it's time to decide whether to venture till the main gate, or stay up till the next glass of that sweet, sweet nectar becomes available in the morning.

As always, all the data and code is accessible on GitHub, for you to play around with.

1. The areas are circular because I've used aerial distances. While this is not the most accurate thing to do, it's a reasonable proxy. I used a walking speed of 5 km/hour,
2. The data was collected from a variety of sources, including the IITB website, Google Maps, and simply asking people we vaguely knew to be reliable sources of information. If we've made some inadvertent errors, let us know and we'll fix them.
3. The regular, non-exam-time, everyday timings have been used. In exceptional circumstances, some of these may not be open at the time we've indicated they will, or vice versa.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D at IIT Bombay?

The short answer is "about 6 years". But boy, do we have a long answer for you. 6 years? Wasn't I always told that the ave...

The short answer is "about 6 years". But boy, do we have a long answer for you.

6 years?
Wasn't I always told that the average Ph.D lasts about 5 years? We took a hard look at the data, and apparently, it doesn't. We examined data about all the Ph.Ds completed at IIT Bombay since 1990, and the average length is about 5.9 years. Ah, but you object, that's most likely due to outliers - the few students who take 8, or 10, or 14 (yep) years, to complete their Ph.D, and skew the mean.  Nope. The value of 5.9 is after taking care of all of these. In fact, the Civil Engineering department, which has the shortest average Ph.D length, clocks in at 5.1 years. CSE, at the longest, takes about 6.7 years on average.

Here's a visualization of all the students who have completed their Ph.Ds at IITB since 1990, classified by department, in order of the average Ph.D length:
[Click on image for better resolution]

Coincidentally, both the longest (14 years) and the shortest (2 years) have both been in Chemical Engineering.
Averaging across departments,  the distribution looks something like this:
[Click on image for better resolution]
Over 32% of the students took 6 years to complete their Ph.D

An interesting question to ask is whether the average length of the Ph.D has been constant over the years. Let's take a look.
Darkness of circle represents the number of students at that data point.

Wow! It looks like the average Ph.D length has been consistently decreasing! While the trend seems quite shocking at first, there are a couple of catches: First, the data from the earliest few years is drawn from very very few data points, and is extremely sensitive to aberrations. In fact, things seem to have stabilized quite a bit by 1995, which is a good reference. Second, a large number of Ph.Ds started in the last few years are still going on! So while it may seem that the average for 2011, for instance, is around 3.7, keep in mind that anybody who is planning to take over 4 years is still in the institute, and hence, not a part of the dataset at all. This reduces the apparent length for the last few years. This is the classic survivorship bias.

Ignoring these periods prone to errors or biases, for the period of 1995 to 2009, the average length seems to have stayed more or less constant - although, the number of outliers seems to have increased.

Hope you enjoyed our foray into data journalism. Do give us feedback on how to improve, in the comments section below. Look out for the next post very soon. In the meantime, if you're feeling adventurous, all code used to gather the data and create the visualisations has been open-sourced. Feel free to play with it and derive some great statistics of your own. Some more crazy visualizations on the dataset are here.

1. Data for some departments has been combined in cases when the departments merged - e.g. IT with CSE, Bio-Medical Engineering with Biosciences & Bioengineering, and so on.
2. All data was sourced from Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) Archives maintained by the Central Library, IIT Bombay. Every student's graduation year was scraped from the thesis, and their joining year calculated from their roll number. Some corrections were made manually. Huge thanks to the ETD for maintaining the archives and making them publicly available.

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