Speedcubing was an integral part of my upbringing and helped shape me into today's person. Even though I was an introverted kid, speedcubing allowed me to break out of my shell and interact with other speedcubers around the country. Like every cuber, I was instantly hooked when I solved my first Rubik's cube. Even after a decade of speedcubing, the thrill of getting a new PB never gets old for me. I’m currently pursuing my bachelor's in Electrical Engineering at IIT Madras. To say that I’m more than lucky to study here would be an understatement, as it wasn’t easy to crack it. Looking back at the last decade of my life, I can confidently say that speedcubing has played a significant role in all my endeavors, including my shot at IIT Madras. At first glance, it doesn’t seem obvious how this particular hobby helped me get into my dream university, but in reality, speedcubing affected me.
My first foray into speedcubing competitions and IITs:
I was an above-average student with a particular stint for mathematics and science during my schooling days. This interest naturally pushed me towards engineering. After beginning my speedcubing journey, my friend and I learned about a speedcubing competition in Chennai, Chennai Mathematical Institute Open 2012. Being my first ever competition, I was more than excited to meet and interact with several other cubers across the country. I also had the privilege to witness many OG speedcubers breaking a lot of NRs back then, and it was mesmerizing. This competition was pivotal to my interest in speedcubing, as I vividly remember wanting the competition to continue for a few more days! My second competition, Shaastra Cube Open 2013, was where I visited and learned about IIT Madras for the first time. Besides the thrill of competing, this experience opened my view about engineering, innovation, and why IITs hold such a high place in our country. During this competition, I got a chance to visit different student innovation centers and exhibitions, where students displayed their projects and their applications. This experience cemented my interest in engineering, and I knew that IIT Madras was the place for me.
Influence of Speedcubing during my JEE preparations:
I competed in Shaastra Cube Open at IIT Madras in the subsequent years, learning more about the institute and interacting with students there. My interest to study there grew even more, and when the time had come, I enrolled myself for coaching to prepare for the JEE exams, hoping to crack the exam and get to study at IIT Madras. I had spent the last two years of my schooling preparing for this exam. Although I didn’t compete much during this period, I never let go of speedcubing. Whenever I faced any difficulty, it was speedcubing that I depended on as a stress buster throughout. Whenever I felt stressed, I would start doing non-timed solves to calm myself down. I realized that having a hobby is crucial in times like these, as it helps you flush out any problems you’d be facing at that moment.
Furthermore, studies have indicated that speedcubing improves an individual's overall cognitive ability. Although it is not sure how much of my mental ability is due to speedcubing, it has played its role. Learning massive amounts of algorithms is also said to enhance a person’s memory. Speedcubing does provide a significant boost to one's concentration and problem-solving skills, both being instrumental skills when it comes to engineering and cracking JEE exams. The interactions I had while competing at Shaastra Cube Open in all the previous years also helped me during my preparations. I believe all these collective skills that I attained over the years of speedcubing helped me stand out from the competition in some way or the other.
In summary, speedcubing has played its part in my life. This significance is why I certainly believe that it will play a definitive role in future endeavors. It is truly astonishing to think something that I started as a hobby has become an outstanding tool in shaping me as a person. Apart from my competitive accomplishments, speedcubing has given me much more, and it is for this same reason, I will continue to be involved in speedcubing. I can see myself in the future having a couple of speed cubes in my bag at all times!
Abhijeet Deepak Ghodgaonkar
Very good article Nitin.
I too got idea about a lot of institutes by visiting various places where WCA comps were held. I love Shaastra!