Nandakumar K. Menon, an eighty-year-old city-based engineer, was among those who passed a rigorous qualification process and sat for the BSc entrance exam. online course in programming and data science offered by IIT-Madras, which was held on Sunday at the premises of an IT company off Aluva.
“I was stopped at the gate by security guards and had to convince them that I was a candidate for the entrance exam,” he said happily.
After attending the four-hour online exam which ended in the evening, Mr Menon explained that more than 90% of the approximately 120 candidates at the center were young people. “I delved into what I learned over 50 years ago and answered questions mostly about math, statistics, data processing and English. It was worth an experience,” did he declare.
Preparing for entry saw him and his son Sethu Nandakumar, a lawyer based in the United Arab Emirates, take four-week courses in all four subjects. Mr. Sethu could not qualify because the math questions were a little too difficult for someone pursuing a PhD in spatial laws. There were weekly exams on all four subjects (a total of 16 exams), and one had to achieve at least 50% marks in all subjects to qualify for the Sunday entrance exam.
Mr Sethu recalled how his father, who would be 81 in August, woke up at 5.30am every day and studied meticulously until 10pm as he prepared for entry.
Passion for engineering
Going back in time, Mr Menon told how he aspired to become an engineer even when he was in fourth standard, having been inspired by the famous engineer of yore Mr Visvesvaraya.
Faced with financial difficulties, Mr. Menon then obtained a degree in mathematics and spent a year in an MSc. statistics, before graduating from College of Engineering Trivandrum. He then completed his graduate studies in cryogenic engineering at Syracuse University, USA, on a scholarship sponsored by NASA. Eager to return to his homeland, he renounced his green card and continues to work there as an engineer.