Bhaskar Garg recommends that anyone interested in attending Cornell visit the campus, as he did, before making a final decision. "The impression that I got was that, 'OK, this is someplace that I want to be, someplace academic, intellectual,'" he says. "Compared to the other places I was looking at, I felt more at home at Cornell."
It was Cornell Engineering's breadth that drew Garg initially. "I wasn't really sure what I wanted to specialize in," he says. "I liked the incredible diversity of academic programs here. And it's strong in so many fields."
The cutting edge is where Garg likes to be and he found it on Cornell's Automotive X Prize team, which is competing to build a car that can travel 100 miles on the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. "I'm really into alternative energy and clean tech and with AXP I can get some real engineering experience, see what the engineering world is like, and just try to make a real difference while I'm a student at Cornell," he says. "I wanted to do something that's totally new, that's breaking the barriers."
His specific task has been designing modifications to the car's regenerative braking system. "I had to do tons of patent searches to see what other companies are doing and take all that info and make a new design that fits in this car that we are making," says Garg. "We are trying to put some innovative things in there to increase efficiency."
Garg is technology chair for The Triple Helix, a Cornell-founded, student-run journal that combines science, society, and law. He has contributed an analysis of the reasons some people spend so much time in online games like World of Warcraft. "The online gaming craze is huge these days. I know a lot of people that are involved in it. They just totally devote their lives to it," he says. "The conclusion that I made was that it's not really an addiction. It's an escape from reality. The game presents a more comfortable reality than the real world; that's why they choose to do it."
Having benefited from the Engineering Peer Advising Program, Garg chose to be a peer adviser himself. "I wanted to get involved and try to help the incoming freshman as much as possible," he says. "It really does help if you have an upperclassman to help you adjust and get the insider knowledge about what Cornell is really like."
After interning at two high-growth start ups, Garg got a taste for entrepreneurship which he will explore further as one of Cornell Engineering's first Kessler Fellows. The year-long work-study program combines entrepreneurial education with hands-on employment. "I really wanted to learn more of the business side," he says. "I really liked the freedom, the new opportunities that I got in those internships. "I wasn't just given a job and told to do this by this time. I was told, 'Here is a problem we are having. Here is a material that we want to make. Think of a way we can do this.'"
With the engineering education he is getting at Cornell, Garg feels he can go anywhere, whether it's professional school, academia, or industry. "It really teaches you how to think critically. It changes the entire way you think about problems," he says. "Engineering is just a great way to get that analytical mind set. It's a lot of work, but I think it's definitely worth it."