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Is NITC a technology institute anymore?

April 5, 2011

Before I start off with the discussion, I would like to be frank that whatever I have written here is just a bird’s eye view of the whole NITC culture. These have come up as a result of several discussions I have had with my friends, seniors, juniors and some of the faculty members. It does not project the whole system effectively. All the points I put forward may not be absolutely true and many of my friends in NITC may not be taking a similar stand on these.

I still remember how I came into this college, National Institute of Technology, Calicut about 4 years ago as an immature, reserved teenager. Like most of the freshers do have, I too had lots of dreams and expectations from this prestigious college and how its going to transform my life. But after 4 years of engineering studies, I find myself in the same position as I was when I joined this institute. Have this institute contributed something academically to my resume? I don’t feel so.

From the past 3 years experience, what I have observed is that, the number of students or faculties turning up for any kind of technical event is really small in number. But, in case of a DJ night or a dhandia night, you can see 100s of students thronging in the basket ball court or in the audi. This is when I recollect something one of the faculty member asked me when I was in my second year. He was also trying to understand the reason why students are losing their technical interest so early in their UG life.  Let me quote what he asked me,

“Once in REC, philosophy used to inspire students, but now even technology does not inspire them”

Sir asked us if we had some solution to this issue and how students can be attracted to the technical projects and events. But we did not know what was going wrong. We did not have an answer to it. Actually that question had never struck us till then and had never thought about it.

From then on, I was knowingly or unknowingly searching for an answer for it. I will try to give some causes for the declining interest of students in technical fields. This may not give an overall view of the problem and its root reasons. I have just tried to assess the problems, but did not seek solutions. I have come to these conclusions based on what I have felt over these years and the outcomes of arguments and discussions with many of my batch-mates and what they felt was going wrong with them.

One of the primary reason which I believe as the root course of this problem is the hostel system followed in NITC. Unlike IITs, here students of each year are allotted rooms in a single hostel, whereas in IITs and some of the other major engineering colleges, students of a branch from different years are given a hostel. I feel such a hostel structure do have a lot of impact on the technical interest of students. See for example, I know several of my batch-mates who are really technically sound but do not know the juniors. In these cases, what happens is that the seniors are not able to share the knowledge they have acquired and the juniors are missing a chance to exploit the expertise of a senior whom he would have come to known if they were in the same hostel. Yet another point that comes up here is that, each year I find students working hard on the similar kind of project in robotics or on a problem statement which another set of students from their senior batches may have worked and solved spending numerous hours. But, the junior students rarely comes to know about this and they will have to work from scratch for their project. I feel instead of this, if the seniors were able to share their experiences and knowledge with juniors, they could have worked on some more advanced level in the field. I feel a common hostel for students from a branch would have effective in a lot of knowledge sharing among them.

Another reason, which I feel as a hindrance for technical knowledge sharing is restrictions imposed in the name of ragging. The recent judgements to  prevent in ragging in educational institutions by Supreme Court is really helpful in ill treatment of juniors by seniors. But, these judgements also hinders the free and open bonding that the freshers used to build in their campus life with seniors earlier. These relations do play a major role in deciding the entire campus life structure of students. What happens now is that mostly the juniors are free to be with seniors during various college and club events where they do not get guided well into their own fields of interests. So by the end of their first year, they find themselves in some weird situation with no one to guide except their peers.

Yet another point I would like to put forward is about conduct of Tathva. I know that the sole aim of Tathva is to encourage students in taking up new technical projects and make them innovate beyond their normal academics. But, till now with what I have seen and experienced is that Tathva fails in standing upto its purpose. With more than 2000 UG students during my second year in NITC, I have seen several events which did not even have a NITC team participating. This has continued in every other Tathva I have been till now. I would like to remind that the number of UG students have gone upto  almost 4000 now. I feel the situation is getting worse. I firmly believe that we need to adopt a strategy like we have for Ragam each year. We need have selection for college team for each event of Tathva and have them guided and trained under the seniors so that we would have a representation in each event. In case of Ragam, this fact is taken care off very well to keep up the prestige of the institute. This should be the case with Tathva too.

In a technical institute the utmost priority should be given to academics and in an engineering institute like NITC, I should say equal priority should be given to practical and technical work of students. This would give an opportunities to students to innovate and think out of the box. Here the semester system just ruins the life of students. Let me just try to give a hint of a semester in NITC. The odd semesters start by the end of July and lasts till end of November and the even semesters begin by end of December and finishes off by April. In a short span of 17 weeks, we have 70+ working days in each semester. I would not say the syllabus is really tough. But the point is that to cover 6 papers in 70 odd days is damn tough. One needs to just study and study whole of the semester. The system does not give room to explore technology. If you do not be updated about the classes for a week, then you would have to just forget about it. The sessional exams come up every 5 weeks and at the end, the final exams also just pops out from nowhere. You just don’t know how a semester flew by when you were into some other work.

I could get clear cut thoughts of the above mentioned causes. I know there are several others too, about which maybe I would write about sometime later. With this blog, I have never intended to put forward the idea that NIT Calicut is not the place to be for your UG course. But see to it that you have someone to guide or you yourselves have a target to get to. This may lead you through the obstacles you come across. Even though I do have a lot of thoughts about NITC which really drives me mad, I do feel happy to be here with the company of best friends of my life. NIT Calicut may not have given anything quantitatively, but indeed have given me my best buddies.

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15 Comments
  1. pabitra Martha permalink

    very Nicely put. One more thing I would like to say is about major projects and mini projects. I would straight forward blame the faculties for this. Very rarely faculties give ideas. Moreover very few of them actually follow up with the students. Lastly which hurts the innovation most is that when the faculties dont see the effort that has gone into the project but merely the output. And in output it can not be any research paper or a conceptual idea. some leds need to flash necessarily.

    • Amarnath permalink

      Yeah, that is true. I forgot to mention about projects done as a part of UG course. I can say with full confidence that in ECE dept. only 1 or 2 faculties do follow up with students with their work. And like you have mentioned, the innovation done by students go unrecognised and unnoticed in most cases. The fault lies in the imbalance in specialisation of members in evaluation panel in ECE dept. We have had several instances where the panel consisted of just faculties in a single specialisation. It is really sad that depts do not take care to have a proper panel for evaluation of projects.

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  2. sajeer fazil permalink

    NIce article.. Compiling all thoughts on the same platform 🙂 🙂

    • Amarnath permalink

      Actually it took over 3 months to finish it off. Started it in January 2011. 🙂

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  3. ashwin permalink

    seems like you have really worked on writing this down….somehow i feel the root cause is something else. How many of us really have a passion in what we learn, how many of us would go and listen to abdul kalam or some other scientist when shanker mahadevan performs on the adjacent stage?? how many of us would have opted this college even if there where no placements……its hard to blame the college or the system…theres a tremendous need for engineers(or whatever you call) now ,so y dont u just join the tide and reap the benefits?just kill 4 years and earn a decent cg and get into some psu…tats it! .life’s simple..y go through all the technical hungamas?? only a passionate mind can think otherwise!

    • Amarnath permalink

      I don’t feel that way. I know how everyone feels once you are in NITC. Its just because once you are here, you know that you have a decent job in your pocket. That does the trick and you just lose interest in all activities. See, I know students in other ordinary engg. colleges doing much more work in their B.Tech. life so that they can ensure to get a well paid job. Its just human psychology that works here. Once they are also sure about their future prospects, I know they too would be like us.

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  4. Well yeah i have so say i share a lot of your same opinions, but think would add a few more.

    Academic Mediocrity is highly encouraged, in the campus. It is strange that you are praised for your talents, but the moment you do something technical it somehow makes you like a sample species, and the problem is not so high in our year but down the line it is getting larger and larger….

    One suggestion to solve this would be “Individual assignments” CS have seen it done and it has been much more effective than the other things. But then again with a batch of 150, and facutlies overburdnened and many faculty and students uninterested I don’t think any fac will give a damn about it.

    • Amarnath permalink

      The point you have put forward is also something to ponder upon. Lets hope the best for our junior batches and hope the system would try to realign itself for the welfare and benefit of the students.

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  5. Very well written post, with some very good ideas and solutions. I really would like to write a more detailed reply with my own ideas, to do justice to the post, but due to lack of time I’d like to really acknowledge your efforts for now ;). Nice post.

    • Amarnath permalink

      Thank you. Yeah, please try to put in your views also to make this post more elaborate and detailed. I hope that you would be able to find some time in between your doctoral work.

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  6. i am a NITC BTECH (ECE0student(going to second year)
    i do agree with most of your views,on the basis of as much i have seen.
    about first years,hostel systems and to some extent about the faculty.
    we interacted with the fourth years in the second sem(’11) ,and we have surely benefitted a lot from those interactions….
    the points which you have raised are really important and i personally think many student from my year would agree with you.

    i want this blog to be read by as many as possible ,if possible,also the faculty.

    also,please suggest things you would like to tell your juniors(like myself),which you think students should follow!

    • Amarnath permalink

      To be frank, I do not know what should I say to a junior when he asks me for advice, future guidance and what he/she should do while in campus. First of all, I’m not such an experienced guy to guide you through and another aspect is that I do not know the background of the junior and what he/she seeks and is talented in.

      If I tell a talented artist, not to spend more time on Ragam or some clubs, it’s not a right guidance I am giving him/her. College like ours can be a platform where such emerging talents can get recognized and established. But, it would be wrong on my side to tell this to a intellect and innovative guy to do. So, if you are looking for some real advice that I can give with my knowledge and experience in NITC, you are welcome to contact me through my personal mail. Please leave me a mail at vaamarnath [at] gmail [dot] com. I would say, please give some more detailed intro about you and where do you see after 3 years.

      I hope this has helped you.

      Cheers

      Amarnath

  7. sai kumar permalink

    i am a first year guy studying production in nit calicut.i agree with you in your post.But i dont think its the fault of our college.there are many colleges in our country where the students in them dont even know what happens in tech-fests.may its because the students screw themselves during their +1 and +2 days and they feel they have succeded once they enter in iit s or nit s.

    • Amarnath permalink

      That’s the whole point. The institute does not try to change that belief of the students. Once you are in NIT, you are not anything in life. Just keep that at back of your heart.

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