One of the biggest influences in my childhood was my uncle. He was an amateur ham radio operator and a dedicated electronics hobbyist. This was in the mid 1990s India, specialized electronic systems were prohibitively expensive, leading to growth of homebrew culture. I used to sit in his room every evening and observe with wonder, as he operated his homebrew radio setup, building strong connections with people across vast distances. His room which also served as his workshop, was stuffed with a bewildering array of components and spare parts. Noticing me lurking around, he would call me and try to explain the basics. He would mumble away, while I enthusiastically nodded along, but being in primary school I could never make head nor tail of it. This was my first introduction to electronics, sparking in me the flames of curiosity, burning ever brighter and illuminating my path.
The first opportunity I got to exercise my pent-up curiosity in electronics was when I matriculated as an Undergraduate at Manipal Institute of Technology. The VLSI Design course in my fifth semester drew my attention towards microminiaturization technology. My reasons for such a focus were manifold; I had a brilliant professor for this course, who placed great emphasis on the pioneering research happening at the micro scale. Also, VLSI is the crucial link between electronic circuits and computation systems, both of which are subjects close to my heart. Consequently, I selected the VLSI/ULSI process technologies elective in the subsequent semester. This course introduced me to the physics behind actual fabrication methodologies employed in the semiconductor industry. It brought back memories of the awe and wonder I had felt in my childhood. At this juncture, I resolved to explore the microscale in greater detail. In the seventh semester, I filled all three elective slots with courses that allowed me to follow-up on my resolution; BIO-MEMS (Micro Electronic and Mechanical Systems), Miniature Microwave Circuits and Material Science for Micro and Nanotechnology electives.
It was my good fortune, to have found an excellent mentor in Dr. VHS Moorthy, who taught me both MEMS and Nanotechnology electives. He not only had years of teaching experience but also strong links with academic and industrial research circles. He introduced me to the world of the nano regime, where devices exhibit exceedingly queer yet fascinating behavior, although compliant with the principles of Quantum Mechanics. Truly, the words of Mark Twain have never proved more accurate; "reality is vastly stranger than fiction". I particularly treasure Dr. Moorthy's lectures detailing nuances of the scientific method and intensive research procedures. He urged me to consider a research career in Nanoelectronics. Taking his advice to heart, I worked very hard to obtain a research internship at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. IISc is the highest ranked institution for basic research in India.