Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Strategic Inflection Point in VTU...

In my previous blog entry, I had mentioned about my final year project, that I was doing along with my batch mates @ a consultancy firm @ Bengaluru. I am finally done with it. Our project is titled, 'FM based data transmission to control remote application'. It was a great learning experience. Our project involves both the software coding (in Java and C) as well as hardware part that employs concepts of FM based data transmission. it was truly a nice exposure to the basics of Java, given the fact that I happen to come from E&C background, and we don't have it in our curriculum. There is still a lot of scope for enhancement of features to existing code. The project is basically controlling the Windows application (windows 2000) remotely using a DTMF keypad, using FM.

Now to the crux of the issue. I was wondering why we had to pursue our final year project at a consultancy firm, paying them a hefty amount. As I look back at the project in entirety, I feel its not that complex at all, both the coding as well as the hardware part of it. But, yes there is always this word, BUT! I stand @ a point in my engineering career, where my curriculum, by now, should have provided me with ample opportunities to carryout projects and gain the hands-on experience by working on projects and executing them. But unfortunately, VTU's unscientific (it pathetically fails in this regard) curriculum, gives students no such opportunities at all. I envy the syllabus of my friends who are pursuing their BE in other streams, like CSE and ISE. At least they got a project in 6th sem and they can apply the concepts they learn and develop projects (with almost zero monitory stakes!) Come to E&C, the story is all different. It involves a lot of investment and u are never sure if u will end up succeeding @ what had set out for. I have largely felt that my curriculum has very little scopes for practical exposure as against my other counterparts. I feel I am crippled when some one comes up to me asks, "Do you know how a circuit is to laid out on a PCB? ", thats the level of lack of exposure, that we have got here! Its hardly a handful of people back here who know about these things. Even though it might be astonishing for people from other streams, to know that we people posses such low levels of practical knowledge in electronics, but the fact is we are literally tied up to a curriculum that forces u remember so many theories and unrelated derivations, that there is hardly any effort to teach students anything in parallel about the practical aspects of the things we learn.

The biggest moment of your engineering career and probably the to-be turning point of your career, the final year project. I was very excited about doing it independently. But at the same time, I was also very skeptical of my abilities to do it independently. I was sure that I wouldn't wanna end up in to a potentially risky situation. Given the fact that I had absolutely nil experience, when it came to the practical experience of carrying out a project, and so were my fellow project mates. It might sound very really awkward that why do people here 'out-source' (thats what some people here consider it as. Its actually equivalent to doing a project in any other company. But the difference is that u end up paying here, as against being paid by the company for doing a project for them. You are fully aware of what you are implementing) their final year projects to a consultancy firm? Don't they have the potential to do it on their own? Is it worthy to pay these so called 'Salvager firms' such hefty amounts to get your job done?

Before you pass out a judgment about my potentialities and mercilessly condemn me for completing my project outside, I would wanna question to all those VTU people who have resorted in to illogical practices of framing syllabus for us. I got a few question to ask the VTU people who have literally forced an us to an SIP (Strategic Inflection Point):

1. I question the objectivity of VTU, which has prescribed 4 subjects for the final sem, along with a project and seminar. With the time stipulated being awfully little (roughly 3 months), I doubt if people who have dared to complete their project work on their own, will succeed to the fullest. Its note worthy to mention that you are not awarded for 'trying' something on your own. They want results!!!

2. The syllabus before revision of our current syllabus had provisions which allowed students to take up company projects. These projects required students to complete them over a period of 2 months or so by working @ their firm. The biggest advantage of doing such projects was, not only did one get to learn latest technologies, but also had a great opportunity to work on his/her domain of interest. But with VTU bringing in 4 subjects and with my college's literally cluttering the schedules, such an opportunity is not open for us. (it excludes bengalurians, who have a very relaxed time table in 8th sem and the feasibility in terms of commuting to the offices of IT firms in bengaluru regularly, gives them an undue advantage over students from other non-begaluru colleges!) Now thats exactly why I was forced to take up a project @ a consultancy firm, paying them a lofty amount, which would at least ensure that I would learn what I liked to, and the project outcome was sure, no matter how complex it was supposed to be. That was an un- avertable issue. Folks, the so called 'Genius Minds' who set up the curriculum for us need look in to this issue!!!

3. Why is it that VTU stresses more in our curriculum to 'remember' too many things, rather than apply what we learn? Our syllabus is more cramming oriented, rather than the one which compels you to think something offbeat and apply what you learn. I can hardly conjure its objectivity of flooding our syllabus with too many theory subjects in each sem. The focus has to shift towards providing more practical exposure to its students. I wonder if any one is listening?

4. Why is it that I am made to literally gobble and puke so many things in the exams, when I know I would never know its actual application in real life? To cite an example how unscientific my curriculum is, lemme quote this situation. We learn DSP as a core subject in 5th sem, but to really know about its applications and appreciate the beauty of the subject, one needs to understand the real life application of concepts like filters, used in sound systems (see the ads of Sony, that says something about 'Noise Cancellation' on its new MP3 player). But to our bad luck, we have the lab in 7th sem. The worst awaits when your profis grumble in the lab about you being so oblivious to concepts you learnt in previous sem. Let me be very pragmatic here, its really a burden for us to re-collect things back in 7th sem, when its best to perform the lab in 5th sem. Its been a very daunting and a terrible experience for me in 7th sem. The lab was full utterly chaotic and none of us knew where were we were heading towards and what were we supposed to do?

SIP, a term coined by Andrew S Grove, in his book 'Only the paranoid survive', stresses on the importance to adopt to the change and hence survive the crisis points. I feel that we too are facing an SIP, we have been hit hard by a 10x force, that has swept many of us off our grounds and caught even the best out here, off guard. Some have been wise enough to know its 'implications' and have suitably 'adopted' to it. Then what is this 10x force? Its the need for students to cope up with the task of completing their final year project amidst the whole fuss of having to learn 4 theory subjects, in an 'exponentially' cluttered time-table (watch out its not gonna be easy folks!). The task gets really arduous if you happen to do it independently. The project obviously needs to be something substantial, considering the fact that its instrumental in deciding very well, your fate when you hunt for a job off campus as a fresher! So I feel pursuing my project at a consultancy firm was not a bad option, even if it meant I was to pay them dearly!!! I have done a project in which I was pretty much interested in. I feel its worth the money I payed.

I feel its high time that the people @ VTU realize their blunders and set right their wrong doings. I just jot this one down with a shimmering hope, that some day they will awaken to reality, before something distasteful happens!

PS: I think that we have been deprived of a wonderful opportunity to take up company projects, by cluttering our syllabus with 4 theory subjects. While the majority of my resources in 8th sem should have been devoted to my final year project, am left with an arduous task of having to learn 4 theory subjects and along with my project (which requires me to learn Java in addition) and a seminar. There will surely be a shift in the focus of resources, thats bound to take place as the sem kicks off. Things are gonna get really tough to manage!!!

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21 comments:

Anonymous said...

dude i agree to every bit of your talk.. lets be pragmatic.. what ever the vtu is doing we all know its the dumbest thing its been doing.. starting from the "score marks by mugging" philosophy to disordering of subjects in each semester.. being a cse student i have had night mares dealing with labs which were previous semester subjects.. the question here is.. its become universal that vtu does not offer any practical exposure nor does it allow research activities.. BUT y does the companies which hire us still depend on the score report of engineering?? i feel that the companies can do justice by keeping a common test for a certain percentage group.. and as the percentage goes lower the test level should go high.. put the students to real test to choose the cherries. Y DEPEND ON THE VTU SCORE REPORT!!! I FEEL ITS THE MOST UNACCURATE MEASURE! u get students who are at the lower percentage group outwit the toppers often.

Anonymous said...

dude i agree to every bit of your talk.. lets be pragmatic.. what ever the vtu is doing we all know its the dumbest thing its been doing.. starting from the "score marks by mugging" philosophy to disordering of subjects in each semester.. being a cse student i have had night mares dealing with labs which were previous semester subjects.. the question here is.. its become universal that vtu does not offer any practical exposure nor does it allow research activities.. BUT y does the companies which hire us still depend on the score report of engineering?? i feel that the companies can do justice by keeping a common test for a certain percentage group.. and as the percentage goes lower the test level should go high.. put the students to real test to choose the cherries. Y DEPEND ON THE VTU SCORE REPORT!!! I FEEL ITS THE MOST UNACCURATE MEASURE! u get students who are at the lower percentage group outwit the toppers often.

Abhi ananth said...

hey dude..
well written,...i am also going through the aame trauma of deciding where to do my project. firstly congrats on completing them successfully.n i am from telecom background....
hey in which firm did u do ur project from?

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