My journey to ESE 2014

First of all, let me introduce myself,

My name is Himanshu Aggarwal, a 2013 batch pass out from BITS Pilani-Pilani campus.

My CGPA is 8.19

From Aug 2014 to Mar 2015, I was working in BARC Mumbai as a trainee scientific officer

The campus life ended and from the well-known fact of low package of civil companies, I also got a low package from the college placements. Being ineligible to give the paper in 2013 and a Gate 2013 rank of 668, I was left with choice of taking the risk of spending a year preparing for the paper or take the job. It took a week to decide and finally I took the challenge and decided to stay at home for the next year. I also had coaching in IES Master during my college training for 6 months in CRRI Delhi. A 9 AM to 5 PM research at CRRI and 5:15 PM to 10 PM class at coaching were the worst days of my life though I liked the coaching part because I could just relax and repeat what I have done in my college(yes my college studies did help me).

Dropping was somewhat easy as I was shortlisted in some PSU’s such as SAIL, so I thought that I will probably sail in at least one opf the PSU and carry on my study for IES but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Regular rejection made me serious towards GATE 2014 in October end and I started preparing for GATE 2014 + IES 2014 from the starting of November with main focus on making short notes for both and remembering for GATE only for the initial 2 months.

GATE paper went well but the result was not up to the mark with a GATE rank of 302 and still PSU’s like RITES rejecting me on the basis of my age. No job in hand and less chances of getting  a job on this rank started haunting me and it was this time I became serious like anything for IES.

From the day of GATE 2014 result up till April end, I completed syllabus for IES 2014(I did it partially before GATE 2014) and in May I did 2 conventional papers every day from 9 AM to 12 noon and 2 PM to 5 PM and used the time in-between to check the papers (I had ample amount of papers with solutions that I got from IES Master during coaching) and 1 hour or less for GS portion(this was a big mistake to prepare for GS only in May and June and I paid for it by getting 27 marks out of 100 in GK portion).

For the last 10 days, I only revised (crammed) my short notes with last 2 days only for enjoyment and relaxing. Just 20 days before the paper I gave BARC interview which I scored really well with 748 marks (I got the white slip, yippee) that provided me with the boost that I had the ability to crack IES and I have a job

The day of exam: At least I cannot say that I was not nervous at the time of paper but on the surface you look calm and ready to drop bombs (lyrics credit: Eminem) (I thought of the same song just before the paper was about to start). The first day of the paper was the worst part for me because of no preparation. The portion I knew got completed in an hour, the other hour was to prevent making blind shots, so I started looking at the expressions of invigilator and nearby fellows. The next day with two objective papers went well and so did the conventional part. I was happy as I almost did 360 to 370 marks paper in the conventional.

The next 2 days went on discussing the objective part in which I was getting almost 300 marks. Now was the time when I thought that I have got a job and this is time to relax and July was complete fun for me. In Aug, I joined BARC with an intention of enjoying the hard-to-get hostel life again to the full. My time at BARC was full of fun. The days went on and I was at home and returning from a religious trip with family and got the news of the shortlist and found myself in that list for which I was pretty sure. I filled up the DAF and started consulting other BARC fellows and college seniors in IES about the strategy for the interview. My interview date was 19 Jan in Delhi and I thought of giving SSC mains paper on 18th Jan in Jaipur so that I could check whether I still remember the technical part or not.

The day arrived and I was there. My panel was Smt. ALKA SIROHI. The documents part was completed and I was the last in the morning session in that panel. While sitting there I got to know about the book of made easy in which questions of various interview panels are discussed. Shiver went through my spine for a while but after 10 minutes came the time when I thought: ab karke kya kar lunga, ye sab moh maya hai. For me, the clock was getting dead slow as I was eagerly waiting for all this to end. After some time, it was my turn and I was called to sit outside the room interview was going. At that time, I spent time looking at the birds wandering here and there in front of me. I entered the room and there were 3 experts along with the head. My interview was small in length but it was nice so now I was somewhat sure of selection.

Again my enjoyment started in BARC. I gave GATE 2015 paper with some of my BARC friends just for the sake that I don’t feel that I have wasted my money in filling the GATE 2015 form and also that we got free ride on Uber. GATE 2015 results were a complete dilemma as I got a rank of 101 when I did nothing to prepare for GATE and a rank of 302 when I prepared a lot which taught me that luck also plays some role. Again I was at home when the final results of IES 2014 came out. I received a phone call from my BARC friend (GSB) saying: bhai tumne paper phod diya hai chauthi rank aai hai tumhari and for a while I didn’t even knew how to react. Then there were more and more phone calls and celebrations started. May be I am able to write this just because I succeeded but at last I want to convey that if you have passion for anything, go for it. May be you come out unsuccessful but at least you won’t regret saying” yaar try to karna chahiye tha” and it will be worth a try (If you are serious).

Profile of E&C Engineer in Indian Railways


In this article we will look at the work profile of Electronics Engineer in Indian Railways. As a part of ongoing series, this is the second installment of work profiles of engineers recruited through IES in Indian Railways.

There is Signaling and telecommunication department in Indian Railways where you will be posted as ASTE after your joining. S&T and department plays vital role in safe running of trains in Indian Railways. There was a time when police men on horses used to give signal for the running of trains. Now we have moved a great deal ahead in terms of providing a reliable and safe method of working for the movements of trains. Have you ever wondered while looking at the signal adjacent to railway line? If you have then it would be even more interesting to actually understand the working of signals. To an outsider, railways signals present quite a challenge to decipher but after joining Railways you will be talking in terms of outer, home, starter and advanced starter.

Let’s Look at organization of this department before proceeding ahead.

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Work Profile-

Open Line:-Your first posting will be as an Assistant Divisional Signal and Telecom Engineer. Typically a fresh recruit is placed here, to give him the first-hand knowledge of working of Indian Railways. Your responsibilities will be numerous; the primary one will be to ensure proper working of signal in your sub-division. Basically, in 150-200km stretch even if one signal fail, you will be held responsible. After signals there are lot of other devices and equipment’s such as axle counters, point machines, track circuits, block instruments, RRI, PRI etc. If any of this malfunction, the movements of train will come to standstill. This will be also your responsibility to maintain or get it replaced on time. In Railways you will find those technologies which are difficult to find elsewhere. Telecommunications system of IR is one of the most vital assets, I can’t describe them here in detail but they can broadly be classified as administrative and operational. Administrative system consists of Communication amongst Area Control Office, Divisional Offices, Zonal Offices, Railway Board office etc.  Operational system consist of Control Communication  Hot lines for train operation ,Magneto phone communication for L/C  ,Block phone commn,Pagers for train crew etc. In addition, the telecommunications play a vital role in the areas of passenger amenities and disaster management. There is more in terms of technology than you can think of, if you are interested in it.

You will have sub-ordinates working under your jurisdiction but you will be executive head in Sub-division. As you move in ladder, natures of responsibilities shift along with jurisdictional area.

Construction:- It is the construction wing of IR responsible for creation of new assets. After projects are sanctioned, you will be the executive head from Railways. You will have to check and inspect work done by contractors, issue them guidelines, punish them etc. In this department you technical skills are put to test, how much skill you have being an IES.  You will have to propose solutions to any problem arising out of technical difficulties.

RDSO:- This is the research wing of Railways. If you have the aptitude for research you can take posting here for your work. If you really can contribute through your research then RDSO will provide you the opportunity to do so. One of the examples can be Anti Collision Device developed by Konkan Railways. Actually, there is lot of research you can do for IR.  Can you develop a new signaling system which can improve the line capacity without compromising on safety and speed? The challenge is upto you to take. Development of high speed trains needs a very reliable and safe signaling system. There are lots of other area where technologies can be integrated for which electronics engineer are necessary.

Deputation: – There are various Psu working under ministry of railways, you can go to one of these if you so wish. Also, you can go to Railway Board, New Delhi to work on different policy matters for whole of Railways. You will also be able to visit foreign countries for training in technical matters but not so early in the career. After five years, you can take leave for higher studies from foreign universities.

Words of advice-You must keep in mind that after all you will be working in a Government Organization. It will not be free from malaise of a typical ‘sarkari naukari’. You can’t expect the work environment like Google or Microsoft because of obvious reasons. If Railways become more professional over the years, it will be the one of best place for engineers even edging top MNC’s. IES is the place for those who are interested in engineering and technology and I have always stressed that interest in technical matters is key requisite for successful career in IES. So, I wish you all the luck for your future ahead.

Words of Caution– Although I work in railways, i have written this article from my own experience of this department, as an outsider. I may have missed something or made error while describing work profile. I would welcome further suggestion for improvement in this article.