By Visudha (B.Tech Information Technology, 2013-17)
‘The journey of a science-enthusiast’
A Student of Oxford University
Syed Ghazi Sarwat (BE, Metallurgy, 2011-2015) is among those few hand-picked individuals, who has found a place for post-graduation at the University of Oxford; an Ivy League institute, which sings a history of 900 years, and takes pride for producing over 70 Noble Laureates. What is more special is, Ghazi has bagged a direct PhD; a rare happening for an Undergraduate. But, this accomplishment appears to be just one facet of his abilities. PSG Tech recognizes him for a number of commendable achievements. Alongside securing a perfect grade-point, Ghazi has published many papers, presented studies abroad, bagged prizes in competitions of International repute, is a Commonwealth scholar, and the list continues. He has held key positions in various clubs; contributing immensely to their growth. Ghazi was the founding Manager of Ventur-E Out: Techs very own Travel agency, initiator of the humanity box: Techs donation box, representative of academia in Southern India to SAE: first from PSG Tech, and proprietor and convener of many new-events. Further, he was an active member of the hostel council, and a Table Tennis player for the Tech team during his time in College.
He carries a vibrant, yet joyous persona, and evinces a contagious thirst for knowledge.
Excerpts from an interview:
1) Was it always your interest to pursue PhD or did it grow with your interest in the subject?
Not really. I have had many other desires before settling for pursuing a career in research –be it a Masters or PhD, and these were multifarious, ranging from being a security guard of the President to securing a medal in the Olympics for India.
‘Aspirations have only evolved with time’.
I think the choice of this journey in research, follows my fervor for pursuing science (I remember not missing a science exhibition, Quiz, and Olympiad competitions since schooling) and my mother’s want, who has a Doctorate herself.
Yes, undeniably; the subject of Metallurgy has had a towering impact on my preferences. Metallurgical Engineering stream is a perfect blend of engineering necessity and scientific inquiry, pushing the enthusiasts to adopt rigorous and analytical approaches in applying fundamental science towards problem solving, [problems of engineering interest.] My acquaintance with this field dates back to the schooling days; through competitions and conferences. I therefore, ahead of time, knew that this field would be fit my interests most. In the first place, this is the very reason why I chose PSG Tech; for its glorious history in Metallurgy. And I am happy to have made reasonable progress.
2) What role has PSG played in shaping your career/life?
I consider myself fortunate for having spent the stage of my life, which people refer to as the moulding period, at a place like PSG Tech. Not for its infrastructure, not for its fame, but primarily for the host of opportunities it offers. With hindsight, I can rather vehemently assert that no four or five year programme at Tech would be adequate to entirely realize the scheme of things, which otherwise needs to be explored. Tech gave me the freedom, and an equally proportionate platform to pursue anything that I urged for.
People skills (ELS, Table Tennis team), Leadership qualities (positions at IIM, ISTE, E Club, SAE, SRC, Hostel Council), Entrepreneurship lessons (VenturE-Out start-up), and needless to say ‘friends for a lifetime’ are a few things in my otherwise endless list, I would want to attribute Tech with.
Reason why I have mentioned the associations is to stress the notion, ‘how important it is for the Techians to expose themselves to these lucky chances’, which are unmatched even by premier Colleges in India. These associations are not just mere clubs, but are the real-hubs for knowledge and fun.
3) Students come up with a lot of ideas but don’t get a push in the right direction. A few pointers for students interested in pursuing PhD.
You don’t really need a doctorate degree to implement, and patent your ideas. A good researcher does research for the sake of relishing the thrill of discovering something new, or improving an existing one.
Degrees are more like a social illusion, and should not, in my view, mask the intellectual of an individual. Prior to and while with SRC, I have interacted, and worked with quite many Techians -both regular and Diploma- who carry with them commendable interest for research.
My advice to such enthusiasts will be that continuing education, and researching are two different facets; the latter being an integral part of the former. For instance, you can always do research while working; many leading companies have R&D departments, exclusively meant for research.
You need to ask yourself what is that you are looking for. If it is a research degree, meaning science for life time, then, ideas alone would not do justice. You need to work on your primary profile: CGPA, GRE, IELTS/TOEFEL. Many ask me if publications and patents are imperative for securing a good institute. I tell them ‘NO’. Of course it adds to your CV, but unless the former is secured, spending time on publishing is point-less.
4) Can you tell us more about the paper you presented?
I was fortunate of having given opportunities to demonstrate my studies in various conferences. The most relishing among these was the Materials and Today Conference, Hong Kong. Amidst the crowd of many world famous researchers like Prof Jonah Erlebacher of John Hopkins University, USA, Prof Gary Waas from University of Michigan, USA, and Prof. Chen of Tohuku University, Japan, I was the only Undergraduate.
My Oral talk, was titled ‘Identification of easy glass forming Mg-Zn-Ca-x (Sr,Y,Mn,Fe,Ag) compositions for bio-medical applications’. Metallic glasses are advanced non-equilibrium materials, carrying properties, which could revolutionize components of engineering interests. The focus of this particular work was to use a thermodynamical approach towards discovering new bulk metallic glasses for bio-medical applications: screws, implants, bolts, plates etc. While complying with the human system, the idea was to design alloy chemistry in a way that bulk metallic glasses of large dimensions could be produced, because limited achievable size is the primary obstruction to metallic glasses popularity.
I must here acknowledge my Department, Dean and Principal for supporting my participation in this conclave.
5) You were engaged in a quite a lot of extracurricular activities while in College; was it difficult managing extracurricular and academics?
Personally, coupling of these was not very difficult. I think, as with most things in life, alongwith choosing the right ones, one need to prioritize his/her interests. I fashioned mine in a way that my academics took least blow from the sidelined activities. Planning much ahead of time, I think, is pivotal for a right balance between academics and extracurricular. Majority of my engagements were directional; all linked towards a common goal. For this very reason, I hardly found myself strayed.
6) How does it feel to study in a place, prestigious as Oxford, and to be able to walk in the same halls as great people like Oscar Wilde, Shelly and such?
Huh, you see, this ‘feel’ is something which words cannot express, and therefore, I think no writing of mine, could enunciate how thrilled I am. What I can tell you is that I am lucky to have got this chance, and while sitting on the turf, and breathing-in the air, which many great minds have, are and will share,my constant efforts will be to justify my admission to Oxford.
7) What do you think lies down the line a few years from now, for you?
In my view, Post-graduation is the dock for my journey in Research. After that, I evince a keen desire to pursue my Post-Doctoral degree, which would help me gain expertise in nano-science and energy materials, since the most deterministic requirements of future generations are energy and water. I would then want to contribute to the mission of mitigating the energy crisis in India.
Alongside, I intend to become a prolific teacher. One, who could encourage energetic and curious minds to take up science for finding truly sustainable and pragmatic solutions to the enigmatic problems we are facing today.
8) One crazy invention you want in the world of technology?
Perhaps, a commercial Nuclear Fusion Reactor. Its craziness is attributed to the interdisciplinary challenges it imposes.
The Bridge wishes Ghazi a best of luck for his future endeavors.
VISUDHA.S (B.TECH I.T. 2013-2017) is an avid reader and enjoys a good book any time of the day. She wants to write her own book some day. She likes to put up plays and lives in the hope of opening a book shop.
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