Random Thoughts on Engineering Life, the Uncertainty Principle and what not to do at the engineering college!


It has been exactly two and a half months since I graduated. It counts for some task; four years of engineering (non-activity). Apart from all the technology that one learns, there are things which one unlearns as well. In the technical jargon this may be seen as ones’ own Open source Movement. You get to meet people from different diversities and nomenclatures. One meets geeks, nerds, the all-rounder’s, the extroverts and the aw-shucks, name it and there’s a character resembling one common entity called a wannabe engineer. Very similar to the elements in a periodic table which are so close to each other but have inherent qualities which make them behave differently! In the case of elements a change of electron in the outer layer can make all the difference, whereas in humans a strand of DNA! I have since then carried on my own research and found out that what maketh thy engineers different are thy mutated DNA’s.

Lot of random thoughts ahh.., getting back to the Open Source Movement, I believe getting into engineering tends to give a person a wider understanding of the scheme of things. Especially if one is staying in a hostel you have to manage yourself and also manage the different types of people who can get onto your nerves. More or less you participate in lot of talk (small and big) late nights with peers who can even get the most shy of species up and talking. I met some of the most interesting characters at college. Let us discuss them without raising too many eyebrows:

Party Politics: I had people from Bihar to Bengal to Tamil Nadu to Maharashtra to Uttar Pradesh to Punjab to Gujarat to Rajasthan to Assam and finally the Andhra Pradesh in my class. First things first, day one to day last the class was a polarized set. The guys from Andhra (40%) would sit in the left portion thus forming the Left Parties!  Then come in the guys from Bihar-UP-Jharkhand-Delhi (BJP, Samajwadi, BSP, Congress) they constitute the Centre or opposition and the government. Then come in the DMK and AIADMK, MDMK the guys from Tamil Nadu. (They are the king-makers, since my college was in TN they were also the entities who would have firsthand knowledge of the questions in the exam) So which party do I belong to? Good question some of my good friends and myself were above party politics. We were the so called independents and radical thinkers! Our opinion hardly mattered! We formed a collective group called the Back-bencher’s radical Party. We belonged to none and all! We had a healthy interaction with all other parties, whereas the other parties had close to none with each other. So that shows the real state of a multi-cultural classroom.

People are always so much interested in what the other chap is doing? Dude what is that you are reading? Why you are going to library now? Why do you study so much when exams are a month away (all one can say is get away jerk!)? Why are you going to class now? Worst of them all, how did your paper go? What was the answer to that previous question? And many others, I can’t be counted out because at times I was acting as a jerk myself questioning people! And at the receiving end other times. Though being a part of the independent radical party people generally were least interested in what we were cooking! J

A smart question- what do budding engineers do at engineering colleges? Well let us build upon it.

First few days of engineering life people develop a sense of dissatisfaction for the college itself due to multitude of factors. A fact can be self verified by each one, no doubt! The factors could range from bad faculty, too many restrictions, lesser recess time, a bad canteen, poor library and to some extent even absence of quality birds (rare species @ engg colleges) can be a deterrent for liking the college. Though in the case of my college the facilities were excellent, but I never understood most of us at college were dissatisfied with our college for some reason or the other, which we could figure out sometimes right and at other times wrong. Yes there are guys who would read up Five Point Someone and get dissatisfied with life too and start demanding things which can only be a part of a well written novel!  But nonetheless the bottom line is people come to engineering colleges with misconceptions which are cleared in the very first week!

I knew guys who would sabotage the hostel when the electricity went off, threw dust-bins and tube lights from third floors (and beyond) of the hostel into the open space between corridors unhindered of consequences and even swear and shout at the warden. One guy locked the warden’s room with a lock and stuck a Pamela Anderson picture on his door (counts for some guts!). Guys chasing the college principal Diwali night and beating him up, and on Holi coloring the guard at the level crossing gate separating the college and hostel campus subsequently breaking the signals bringing to complete halt the busy Chennai-Bangalore train route for two hours! These guys were the most daring among all; some got debarred, got screwed but were back to college and even finished the course with good grades and a placement. So who is the king?

Exam time, cramming up at the last moment; Most of the guys just regurgitate what they assimilate from the boring classroom lectures, a perfect start for wannabes! I would say I would never be woozy before exams instead I avoided studying itself!!! I think the best thing to do in engineering is to choose subjects of your own choice. For E.g. I was an Electronics and Communication guy but I enjoyed reading about operating systems, distributed computing etc (part of computer science engg.) which helped me to develop a wider understanding of technology. Spending time reading newspapers and magazines and subjects of my interest intrigued me more than listening to most of my lecturers teaching optical communication and Electromagnetic theory. I knew if ever I was going for a PhD in Electronics I’m going to avoid these fields (though one can’t decouple the basic subjects but a basic knowledge was more than sufficient I guess because these subjects can get creepy)

One thing one has got to understand, students world over have to face moronic lectures and there’s is no escaping. For me I was turned off from academics for a while and that showed in my grades, from being a onetime college scholarship holder to rank 52 in the department, counts for some slump! But that did not hinder me, while most of my classmates were mugging class notes and getting good grades and walking away with cool scholarship awards I had acquired the leverage to study and enjoy subjects which interested me! For e.g. most of my classmates if asked would not know what a monostable multivibrator was, but they would solve questions in the exam courtesy some simple formula application,  look up the circuit diagram and design it on bread-board but they would be totally nonplussed if asked what it was? Why are we going for it? Why use a Linear Integrated Circuit, why not a Microprocessor, are their other ways to do the same?  No they aren’t answering this one, because all they want is mug up, puke, get good grades, impress the teachers and then get even better grades! After all this is what our education system demands.

I forgot to mention the guys who really rock at engineering colleges. There are guys who possessed excellent oratory skills and they quickly gain fore-front organizing and narrating college events, and then there are multi-talented chaps like dancers and singers who are the famous people on the radar. It’s not just their talent but the sheer aura which makes them so famous. For E.g. I was part of a music band, a bassist (a lesser known member of a band by any regards, but surely the most important alongside drummer musically) but never quite was so well known because most of us surely lack that thing which these guys possess. I’m still in the process of understanding the economics of being well-known!

Smoke, liquor and joints are a favorite time-pass of the lesser known clan of engineers. These are the guys who spend a major time rolling leaves and searching some more for future. To be frank they are not the bad guys but just they belong to the same set of guys who dare beyond what people like us do! You can find them exploring innovative ways to fuck their neurons, by igniting it in chillums and pots and hookahs!! God give them some wisdom. It’s all up to the individual to realize what is right for them and what is wrong after all.

Finally I think I have more to say but just don’t have any more random thoughts right now; probably I’ll add some more Entropy when I’m back. I’m also not sure whether I really got my point across. Who emerges as the ultimate king after four years of non-activity is really a tough call, the nerds, the jerks, the wannabes or the dare beyond guys? hmm. It’s for everyone else to decide. All I can say is it is the best time of life where you can learn and explore and divert your energy into creative stuff and explore your hidden talents. It’s all there in engineering, a must have experience.

P.S: all comments and ideas are welcome!

6 comments

  1. Ya Neeraj…you did manage to rekindle my memories…its kinda funny that
    i never got along with a few telugu guys of my branch(eee) in 4 yrs of my coll
    but d ice was broken in just 2 months of training of TCS…now we are roomies

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