Lucknow boy Lakshya Sharma topped JEE Advanced 2017 in IIT Kanpur zone with AIR 10. He is the only candidate from the zone and the city to have made it to the list of top AIR 10. But he will not take admission in any of the IITs.
Lakshya, whose family is settled in Canada now, has also bagged 100% scholarship, worth at least Rs 2 crore, to pursue a dual degree course in engineering in Computer Science and Physics at the University of Pennsylvania— an Ivy league university rated among the top 8 universities of the world.
“I will study for a double degree from the University of Pennsylvania. The advantage of this course is that I will study computer engineering and physics simultaneously,” Lakshya told HT from Canada.
“The unique aspect is that after completing the four year course, I will get B Tech in Computer Science and B Sc in Physics, with the options open either to pursue post graduation in physics or further study computer science,” he said.
Lakshya explained, “The Physics degree from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania will open up roads into a research career for me. On the other hand, the Computer Engineering degree will help me further pursue my childhood interest in computer science.”
Talking about why he wanted to study in the US, Lakshya said, “I decided that I wanted to do something more with life than just a white-collar job in some blue-chip company, I wanted to contribute to society and leave my mark on the world.”
“And I wanted to do this by expanding our frontiers of knowledge about nature, by doing research in Theoretical Physics. It was then I decided that I would pursue my higher studies in the prestigious US universities, where the prospects and scope for research is more developed than here in India,” he said.
Several exams and tons of essays later, Lakshya has finally climbed up the first step towards realising his dream. “While the normal course load for four years covers only one degree, I have opted for extra study load. This is because it will open up career prospects in both of these exciting fields, and will also discover new avenues for their amalgamation in my research,” he said.
Like thousands of students, after completing Class 10 from Lucknow, Sharma took admission to a coaching institute in Rajasthan’s Kota to get into the coveted Indian Institutes of Technology.
“In addition, studying in Kota has taught me many key life-skills such as stress management and handling heavy course loads. Therefore, I knew that after Kota, pursuing a dual degree program wouldn’t be that difficult for me,” he said.
Lakshya is currently in Canada with his family. He will join the University of Pennsylvania in August when the session begins. “My father is a chartered accountant and and mother is a postgraduate in zoology,” he said. His sister is currently studying medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.
Lakshya has enjoyed gazing at the stars since his childhood and, over the years, the fascination evolved into a passion. “I enjoy the beautiful sights of galaxies and nebulae in the eyepiece of my telescope, especially the Orion Nebula with its gossamer tendrils and vivid colours,” he said.
Striking a balance between academics and the application process was the key to his success, Lakshay claimed. The application process, he said, was very holistic and involved writing tonnes of essays to universities in the US.
Lakshay secured a perfect 800 score in three SAT subject tests (physics, chemistry and mathematics II), an ACT composite score of 35 out of 36, TOEFL score of 115 out of 120.
During leisure time, Lakshay plays the synthesiser and loves to participate in quizzing competitions. “Playing the synthesiser helps me relax and refreshes my mind whenever I get exhausted after studying, and I particularly enjoy playing Bollywood songs on the keyboard. Quizzing is a way for me to sharpen my scientific instincts and speed, and it becomes particularly enjoyable when the competition is tough,” he told HT.