1. Tell us about your journey after engineering to where you are now?
I had a passion for computers while I was doing my B.Tech. So I wanted to do higher studies. I got me for an interview at Indian Institute of Science (IISc). I wasn’t sure if I will be selected for Mac(Engg.)/PhD as there were many outstanding candidates. Luckily the interview went well.
As I was finishing my PhD, I got a position at Rutgers. I joined there. Later I got into Western Illinois University – a medium sized state University in Illinois. Since then I have been teaching here. I love my students. They keep my energy level up.
I founded CSTRENDS LLP, in part, due to my desire to help learning. We published our book on Artificial Intelligence recently. The book got good reviews and is being sold internationally. Although I got some bad rap for making things too simple – I think that should be the way. Recently I ran into someone holding my book. That was an amazing feeling.
2. You have always been someone driven by your love for computer. I still remember you had an unrestricted access to Electrical Lab computer room, which we used to call as “Binto’s lab”. How did you maintain your love for computer?
I chose Electrical &Electronics Engineering because I liked the field. I was not interested in computers originally – I got into it accidentally. My visit to the computer lab was during a Fortran course. Initially, access to the lab was very restricted. After a while, I became the “go to” person for any computer problems. Honestly, I don’t have much emotional attachment with computers – but I have a passion to learn about computers! When I think about it, I pretty much love learning about everything.
Recently when I talked to IEEE folks here (I was an active member in IEEE student branch at MACE), I remembered many things that we learned in our labs, thanks to our wonderful teachers there. It was like going back in time. I believe having an engineering background complements my computer science knowledge.
3. Is there anything specifically you acquired in MACE that you cherish?
I have many life-long friends from MACE. That is what I cherish. They are from all walks of life. Then Facebook happened – that got many of us closer together.
4. Tell us about your family and kids
My lovely wife Susan (Soumya) has completed her master’s from Western Illinois University and she is working in the IT area. I’ve two kids. My daughter recently won the rolling trophy for “Battle of the Books” in Easter Iowa. The article, “Lessons learned from my daughter”, is based on her. My son is currently in pre-school. His recent achievement has been, completing a 300 piece puzzle! He kept on working hard to put the pieces together over several days until he completed the job.
My mother lives in Kerala. I have two sisters – one is currently in Kerala and the other is in Bangalore. Soumya’s parents also live in Kerala. Her sister is in Dubai. My cousins are in UK, UAE, Australia, India, and USA. So we have a truly global family presence.
5. How do you feel about meeting old friends? What message you have for them?
I am always excited to meet my old friends. I’ve been in touch with Sophia. I’ve met Neethi a few times. Met Binod, RP, Mathai last time in Kerala. I had a really great time. Rajesh (M. Jose) and I had a “beer summit” in an undisclosed location a few years back. The waiter has to supply the drinks under the table to hide it from other patrons sitting around us. I laugh about it even today.
6. When we visit MACE this summer, if you happen to meet the young Binto there, slogging late night in the lab and sleeping on hard surface bed, what will be your message to him?
Well, good question. I realize that hard work is all that matters. When you start living with what you earn and stop looking for entitlements, that makes you a better person. I suspect that people who cheat and manipulate do not believe in that principle. At MACE, I worked hard and played hard – and that is the way the life should be.
7. Anything else you want to share with us?
Just say hi to me on Facebook when you can. I don’t check WhatsApp regularly. I look forward to hearing from you. Love you all.