Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) was the choice of the toppers at the engineering admissions, with 17 of the top 20 choosing the stream on the first day of counselling on Monday.

By the end of the day, 192 candidates had chosen ECE, but other branches including Computer Science and Engineering (85) and Mechanical Engineering (79) also caught up. “It is too early to see any trends in these choices,” clarified V. Rhymend Uthariaraj, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Engineering Admissions 2010.

Of the 578 candidates called on the first day, only 428 attended and five of them skipped choosing any seat. A number of the 150 absentees and the five who skipped may have done so because they also had medical seats, Dr. Uthariaraj suggested. Of the 29 who scored 200 out of 200 in the engineering cut-off, only 20 turned up.

The candidates counselled on the first day had all scored 199 or more as their cut-off marks. On Tuesday, students scoring 197 or more will be counselled starting from 7.30 a.m.

Only three students who had obtained seats in the medical counselling surrendered their seats and chose engineering and Abinaya, who scored 200 out of 200, said she had skipped medical counselling as her first preference was for engineering due to her love for Mathematics and Physics. She chose ECE at the College of Engineering, Guindy.

No candidate on Monday chose the Tamil medium courses in Mechanical and Civil Engineering launched by the State government this year.

As many as 104 candidates of the total 423 who were allotted seats were first generation graduates and were eligible for the tuition fee waiver announced by the State government, Dr. Uthariaraj said.

Higher Education Minister K. Ponmudy, who gave the allotment letters to the first few candidates, said that rankings like “Top 10 colleges” were “humbug” and advised students to take up seats available through counselling.

He said the infrastructure and the faculty strength were good in all colleges and Anna University was taking action against colleges that were lacking in facilities.

The first phase of counselling goes on till July 20 for candidates scoring 169 marks or above. The second phase starts on July 21 and is scheduled to end on August 10, Mr. Ponmudy said.