Arvind Sama, second year BE graduate of Army Institute of Technology, better known as “that Rubik’s cube kid” is our very own on campus celebrity.
We decided to delve more into what he does and how this demure yet tenacious little whiz kid broke the Guinness world record.
:: How and when did you begin your journey?
“I was in the 4th grade, around 9 years old, when I saw the cube with a boy in my class and was fascinated instantly. He was a great source of motivation for me at that time. At first I just sat with the cube in my hands for 2-3 hours at a stretch trying to figure it out. Then I did some figuring out on my own and wrote my own algorithms. I have a variation for each and every formula. Basically a faster way to solve every algorithm.”
“I fared averagely at the nationals in Delhi back then, but my parents were supportive of me. Although I did have to give it up for 6 years because my father said I should concentrate on my studies first.”
“While on the train to AIT counselling, I hesitantly picked up the cube once again and could solve it in 1min 20sec.
After coming to AIT I’ve received a lot of appreciation for what I do, people encourage me for doing something unconventional. I can now solve it in 15sec. So I felt I could excel in this field and improve a lot more.”
:: Do you have any regrets about those 6 years you didn’t cube?
“I regret those 6 years. I could’ve been the youngest world record holder. Although my parents are very proud now.”
:: How do you come up with such unique tricks?
“I tried the underwater cube trick when I saw Anthony Brooks on tv. He solved 8 cubes. I gave it a shot and made 5-6. So I’m not that far off (smiles).”
“The hanging upside down trick I saw it on a tv show where a girl sang while upside down. I’ve done gymnastics before and I came up with the idea of combining these two things I know well. So I practiced for it and surprisingly broke the world record. Although it wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my family and my sponsors, The Speed Cubing Mumbai Unlimited (SCMU).”
:: You’re doing so many things at once. How do you manage to juggle your passion and studies?
“My marks aren’t that great. I’m not proficient in any programming languages. My classmates look down upon me for this reason, but I’m sure I can pick up anything if I put my mind to it. My teachers are supportive, all of them know me and encourage me. I am like every other student struggling with the curriculum, but I have lots of things to accomplish and getting a degree is just a small part of it. ”
:: What are your plans for the future?
“I’m planning to build a cube solving robot, using six stepper motor controls using arduino(read: electronic engineers’ lingo you won’t understand). I’ve a internship at Liberty city centre, New Jersey waiting for me, once I graduate(They will be paying me $20 per hour :D). I’m the only Indian to be selected and the youngest candidate there(he’s 17, and his friends there are all 24 and above) I was also the top scorer among them. I’m looking forward to the work I’ll be doing there; the concept is to work on artificial intelligence so that any machine can solve Rubik’s cube, a self solving application in simple terms.”
“Currently, I’m working with the robotics professor on campus, using embedded systems. I’m also writing a few papers for my research work.”
“I have some new tricks that I’m trying my hand at, solving the sudoku 9 x 9, simultaneously solving 2 cubes underwater, etc.”
:: You’ve broken a world record, bagged a prestigious internship, religiously researching and working under your professor, and studying as well. Is there anything you cannot do?
“I’m not a superhuman. All I’ve done is practiced a lot. Practice is everything. I’ve planned to start a Rubik’s cube club on campus. I’ll be teaching whoever is interested right from the basics and encouraging them to create their own methods to solve, like I did.”
“I’ve had challenges that I thought would be a roadblock on my journey, for example I had a hard time solving the 7 x 7 cube, but achieving it felt amazing.”
His fingers never stopped solving the cube throughout the interview. Do you ever stop, we ask him.
“It’s like it’s a part of me now. Without being in contact with it it feels like a part of me is missing.”
This kid just goes on to prove that greatness is achieved only when you believe in your dreams enough to take life altering risks.
More power to him.