Ajay Balan – Motors his way to “General Motors”

I was born in Virudhunagar (a district near Madurai). My family is pretty much a lower middle class family. My Appa works in the textile industry and my Amma teaches chemistry at a government high school.  I have a younger sister, who like in every home is the smarter kid among us.  Even early in my school days, our family suffered from Appa’s huge financial loss in his business.  My Amma and Appa had to struggle a lot to give us both good education and at the same time tackle with such a huge financial loss. Now when I look back, I should say they did balance things pretty well, which is still amazing.  I did most of my schooling at RSK School in BHEL, Trichy.  Initially it was pretty hard for me to cope with the entirely English speaking convent environment. Thanks to all my teachers who supported me through-out that phase.  I slowly started getting better at subjects and that boosted my confidence greatly. I used to be very competitive. I will do as much as I can to do a little better than my competition.  Sometimes I did better but most of the times I failed to do so. But I don’t regret the losing part as the part that I did better showed me what I am good at.

I was always fascinated by cars. I wished we had a car at our house, but we never had that luxury.That little excitement slowly grew into a curiosity to know how they worked. In my high school, I used to like Maths and Physics a lot. I liked solving problems. I never got bored of it. I give all the credit to my excellent teachers, especially Physics and Maths teacher. Interesting teachers can naturally cultivate that interest in you, which is what happened to me.  I always liked to be unique. I wouldn’t want to do what everyone else is doing. When all my friends wanted to join some school in Rasipuram to score high marks in their 12thstd, I wanted to do something unique and aspire better. I knew I was never going to get such high marks or cut off marks in 12thstd to enter into Anna University. That was not my cup of tea. So I wanted to try getting into IITs/NITs to be unique from my friends.  Since I grew up in Trichy, I was aware of how special NIT Trichy is.  I joined a school in Chennai which had dedicated coaching for IIT-JEE (for IITs) and AIEEE (NIT).   It was a difficult journey for me because the Maths and physics that I experienced towards IIT JEE and AIEEE were at another level than to what I was exposed to, as a matriculation student. I understood that students from CBSE could do better as they had good problem solving practice from their schooling. Then I started studying the CBSE books (10thstd, 11thstd, 12thstd).  Those are some of the best books that anyone in 11thstd and 12thstd can have as a reference. I used to write many state level exams to analyze where I stand among all other students.  I was able to clear AIEEE to enter into NIT Trichy.

Four years at NIT Trichy is solely responsible for who I am today. More than the college, the standard of the students who study with you really matters. If ten of your friends do something, then you automatically try to do that.  I started learning so many things – during my school days I had stage fear, but after NIT Trichy I was able to handle workshops with more than 500 people. I picked up on how to solve the Rubik’s cube just because my friends were solving it and attended lots of world level competition. I gained knowledge about robotics because of my friends. I learnt to build a car on my own due to the fact that there was a good platform in NIT Trichy to be able to study and explore new things. There are many similar activities. Just like them, coming to the US to do a Masters also became a reality. Earlier it was just a distant dream.

TRICHY PLUS especially Savitri Mam, Siva Sir & Co, were elemental in maneuvering me in the right path. I understood that in GRE, the Verbal part wasn’t my strong aspect, but by the various techniques like the ‘Flash Cards’, ‘Story based teaching’ etc., learning vocabulary was a breeze. I enjoyed the classroom environment there, which wasn’t like any other coaching centers. Students were more involved in discussions which were vital in building the vocabulary. Then under the guidance of TRICHY PLUS trainer Ms.Owenita, I later got the opportunity to teach Maths (part time) for the students preparing for Clerical & PO Bank exams, which was a notable experience in my life. That boosted my confidence multi fold.  TRICHY PLUS along with Sharath Consultancy Chennai guided me right from my GRE preparation all the way to the VISA interview. Without all these support I am quite certain that the process would had been much more strenuous.

My amma and appa are very proud that I am the first person in the family to go abroad for studies. I am not sure how much that meant to me, but I was glad to see my family was proud of it.

Following my passion, I did a Masters in Automotive Engineering from the Clemson University, USA. I enjoyed the courses very much. It was highly challenging to adapt to the new environment here in the US, but here there are lot of Indians. So one never feels being away from home really . The technical expertise of the professors here and the facilities to learn (for example the labs, testing facilities etc) are incomparably good. Currently I am working in the General Motors as a Project Engineer. I am working in the development team of the model year 2018 Chevrolet Cruze diesel car.  I enjoy my job every second ! All in all it is a great experience so far. More important than anything else, I was able to achieve my dream that I had for 15 years to buy a car. I currently own a 2005 Honda S2000 which I race it on the local race tracks as a hobby.

Working as – Project Engineer, Fuel Systems Control & Calibration, General Motors North America

Education – Masters in Automotive Engineering – Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research, USA

Bachelor of Technology in Production Engineering  – National Institute of Technology, Trichy, India

contact Ajay at ajaybalan.m@gmail.com


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