Young Achievers

Young Achievers

Chandra Sekar Subramanian

t age ten, he displayed amazing
technology absorption capacity. At age 15, he became India’s youngest engineering graduate. Today, at age 16, Chandra Sekar Subramanian’s search for excellence continues. A first year M.Tech student at IIT-Madras, Subramanian was recently awarded a package of grants aggregating Rs.7 lakh, by the Mumbai-based IT enabled services market leader Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). The grant will be disbursed in phases to cover his tuition fees at IIT-M, research activities, technology infrastructure support, project travel expenses as well as mentoring services from senior TCS executives.

"I am grateful for this valuable support provided by TCS, which will enable me to pursue research in the areas of network security and cryptography — two major, constantly evolving fields. Network security will be the subject of my second year project at IIT-M and the TCS grant will allow me to work on exciting global projects in this area," says Subramanian, whose genius began to flower when he was a ten-year-old class V student at Bell Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu.

Attracted to computer-based learning from the age of eight, Subramanian began exploring cyber technology with full-blooded encouragement from his chartered accountant father and mother, a banker. Awarded a tutor, he took online examinations conducted by international IT major Microsoft to become the world’s youngest Microsoft certified systems engineer at age ten and a certified network associate at age 11.

Ever ready for new challenges, when in class VI, Subramanian enrolled in the Bachelor of computer applications (BCA) distance education programme of the Manonmanian Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli and after completing a semester felt he was ready to take on a full-fledged BE progr-amme. He appeared before a specialist panel of Anna University for a screening test, and was permitted to enroll for the BE (computer science) programme of the Kalasalingam College of Engineering at Srivili-puthur in Tirunelveli, skipping the remaining years of school. Subramanian graduated in 2006 and at age 15, became the youngest graduate engineer in India. Shortly thereafter he wrote the GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering) exam of the IITs and was admitted into the M.Tech programme of IIT-M.

"I am perfectly at home in the highly enabling and encouraging environment of IIT-M, where thanks to the TCS grant, I have considerable freedom to pursue my research activities," he says .

Quite clearly the best work of this focused young achiever is yet to come.

Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)

Pranav Damani

umbai-based Pranav Damani (10), India’s under-12 scrabble champion is also the world champion in his age group. In mid-December 2006, he bagged the under-12 trophy at the World Youth Scrabble Championship held in Wellogong University, near Sydney, Australia. Students from 20 countries including Bahrain, Canada, USA, England and Japan vied for the prize.

Nor was this triumph in Oz a flash in the pan. In the two years past (2005 and 2006), Pranav has consistently won the Mattel Scrabble School Championship (India), besting 1,000 competitors from 200 schools in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata and Pune.

"While we are proud that Pranav is winning tournaments in India and abroad, we don’t push him to excel. We’re happy to see him enjoy the game," says mother Suman, a home maker who enrolled Pranav in scrabble classes of the Bombay Scrabble Association, when he was seven years old.

As the youngest winner of the Youth Scrabble Championship, Pranav was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Malaysia for himself and his parents as the prize. When quizzed, all he says about his victories is: "It was fun. I enjoyed myself."

While this sedentary mind game is what he is best at, Pranav is also an avid chess and table tennis player when not playing scrabble with his coach Carol Kanth, member of the Bombay Scrabble Association. He also exhibits some musical talent while playing the electronic keyboard. Unsurprisingly he is academically competent as well, averaging over 90 percent in class V at Mumbai’s Campion School.

It’s "too early in life" to chalk out career plans for Pranav. "Right now I’m happy to be a contented child, living each day as it comes," he says sagely.

Gaver Chatterjee (Mumbai)