Engineering Asia Pacific

Kaustubh Katdare The Crazy Engineer

Written by David-Anthony Gordon | Engineering Asia Pacific | Friday 15th March 2013 18:21:00 GMT

We interviewed Kaustubh Katdare who talked to us about setting up one of the largest and most successful engineering sites in the world.

Kaustubh speaking on stage

Kaustubh speaking on stage

You studied electrical engineering at Nagpur University. In your opinion what was the best thing about this discipline and what’s the best thing you've gotten out of pursuing it?

I picked up Electrical Engineering because electricity is a fascinating thing. I believe Electrical Engineering forces you to think a lot and makes you visualize everything in your mind. I think it's one of the toughest disciplines in engineering studies. While I love electrical engineering; I picked up a job as software engineer after graduation. My software engineering job allowed me to stay in my hometown and gave me a lot of time for myself. Electrical engineering kept my brain active all the time and that, I think, is the best thing I've ever had from Electrical Engineering.

What was your experience working in IT like?

Back in 2003 - 2004, joining an IT company was the coolest thing to do for any graduate engineer in India. IT companies would offer very high salaries and had posh office buildings. Plus, there would be a very high chance of 'onsite' opportunity which meant you could book your own flat in any town of your choice, after a year long onsite trip. Anyone who worked for an IT company, has had a foreign trip (onsite opportunity) would be a hero in the local community and naturally attracted more marriage proposals than an electrical engineer working as an electrical engineer.

My incentives to accept IT job offers were limited because firstly the office had to be very close to my home and secondly the salary had to be reasonable. One month's salary could cover my expenses for 4 months! I could save lot of money and have lot of time for myself to figure out what to do

The first year was one of the most amazing years of my professional career. My colleagues and I would have a lot of fun and we worked very hard. I didn't even take any leave for about 14 months straight (I even worked on weekends). I was fortunate to have awesome people both as my colleagues and bosses. However, I was living a very scripted life. I finally quit the IT industry after working in two companies for 3.5 years together.

You've had a lot of stiff competition from other sites, yet you've still triumphed and your site is an undeniable success. What do you think distinguishes Crazy Engineers from other similar engineering sites?

Frankly speaking, we don't compete with anyone. We've got a simple goal, which is to unite engineers across the world and do constructive things. We know what we are doing and we want to do it in a better way. We take pride when engineers say good things about us. It all comes down to our amazing people who often go out of the way to help other people for free, without expecting even a 'thank you'. I often wonder why they do it, but it feels great. We've got an awesome, ever growing collection of people who are as young as 10 and as old as 84. We don't ask for real names, any personal data or money from our members and ask them to register only when they want to contribute to the site. Registration is 100% free.

Your website has many visitors, from all over the world but it still seems to have an Indian focus. Do you plan to makes the site a more global one? If so how do you plan on extending your reach?

A large number of users come from India and we had to introduce India centric sections and discussions on the site. However, we'd love to call ourselves an international website. The site reaches to over 180 countries. We often tie up with engineering events around the world and grow our reach. For example, we've a special tie-up with America's biggest science and engineering festival.

You once made the comment that Indian Engineering graduates were lacking creativity, so you set up Crazy Engineers. What other issues do you encounter when talking to engineers in India?

Well that's true. It was a shocking discovery I made after running CrazyEngineers for few years. Indian engineering graduates are the products of the faulty education system which does not encourage creativity at any stage - and I'm one of the products of the system. Neither the college nor the industry needs 'creators' and 'original thinkers'. I might be generalizing it but I must also admit that there are real gems out there who beat the system. We try our best to hunt for these gems to work with CrazyEngineers.

The most typical issue I encounter while talking to engineers is that they are not exposed to the real world knowledge. For most of them the Internet is all about checking friend's photos on Facebook and reading/forward emails. It sometimes makes communication difficult.

If you weren't running crazy Engineers what do you think you’d be doing right now?

I don't know. I'd be managing a project in an IT company, I guess.

What advice would you give to engineering students who are about to graduate and are looking for jobs?

I'd advise that you should take up a job in the domain that you like and are passionate about. If not, take up a job that gives you time to gather your thoughts and do something part-time that you really really love. The internet is so awesome beyond Facebook.

What do you believe are the main qualities you need to be successful in business?

I think it's too early for me to talk about it. But from my experience so far; being passionate about your work and not giving up are the main qualities to be successful in business.

It's clearly that you do a lot of hard work, so I was wondering how do you maintain a good work life balance?

For me, work isn't 'work'. It's fun and I love it. The best part is that I can just get up, shut down my computer and play guitar or watch TV. I also get time to spend lot of time with my family. I don't pressurize myself to achieve something and I work with wonderful people.

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