After months of hardwork to make NITK’s techfest, ENGINEER – bigger, better and more professional, Team Engineer is waiting for the actual event to take off on March 7th (and go on till 11th).
Bigger, with a resounding budget of around 20 lakhs. More events. Big sponsors.
Better, with higher quality questions. Better organization. And a variety of events – Something for everyone.
More professional with a suave and well-designed website, quality equipment and the like.
Thousands of meetings. Quite a few brilliant minds. Nightouts. And many more things. Hope it’ll be a success.
All signs point to it will – the online events have already taken off full swing, with around 300 teams trying out for Virtual Bounty, the online treasure hunt, and lots more giving Inscription, the online programming contest, a shot. Both were very well organized, with the only glitch in Bounty being that the net speed gave us kai.
The enthu has really gotten into most of us, with many of our batchmates trying out for one event or the other. They are also helped by the fact that Engineer ’07 has something for everybody. There are a whole slew of online events, including Online Math. The problems are beautiful, brought back memories of math in class XII, and they really make you use your long-rotting grey cells. Then there are business events this time ’round, like MockStock and EPitch, which we hear have received tremendous response from outstation teams.
The workshops are better-organized this time ’round, with one conducted by the Indian Underwater Robotics Society, and several Industry Interaction sessions by Accenture, IBM, Sun and Autodesk. With the aim of reaching out to the society, there are events for a socially-conscious engineer, like Shrishti, Winds of Change and Rural Innovators. There is technical informalz too, and Decathlon, which is in true spirit, a TEAM event.
And, and… we’re having the unveiling of the first 3-D mouse at Engi-07! The event is called Mushaca [Mooshaka – Sanskrit for mouse], where ideas on how to use such a mouse are invited. And what’s more, everyone gets a share of the prize money.
As we said before, there’s something fore everyone, and the complete list of events can be seen here.
Strikes us as surprising that a large number of people [ditchers!] are going home from March 7 to March 11. That’s supposed to be understandable: a large number of people stayed back for Inci this time, and they need to go back home for a longish break sometime, and Engi’s it. And anyway, the majority of the ditchers are freshies and sophomores, people who wouldn’t do anything much for Engineer anyway.
We beg to differ.
Being a freshie/sophomore does NOT disqualify you from enjoying a well-organized techfest.
At the risk of sounding preachy, we’ll say us Numbskulls have NEVER missed a single edition of Engineer, and what’s more, have enjoyed ’em, even the one held when we were in first year. That one, we spent watching every single event there was, attending the videoconferences [Wanderlust got to ask Dr. Devi Shetty about what he’s doing to prevent heart disease among the public], trying to win Virtual Bounty, coming awfully close and losing bigtime, a lot wiser on googling after that.
Tuna got to take part in Contraption in Engi ’06, what with burning matches from almost 50 boxes, didn’t win, blame it on the winds 😉 …]
We must admit we were still in awe of anyone who could make a boat that could actually cross the swimming pool without sinking, and those who made noisy cars that were remote-controlled, and basically of all junta who took techfests seriously, most of who consisted of the platoon who invaded IITM for Shaastra ’05.
But that was until Techfest ’06 at IITB.
The pair of us were complete noobs who had just chanced upon a problem statement on the Techfest ’06 site while arbit googling, and hitched on a third. As is usual with tech fests, the statement consisted of space travel, satellites and other words that put off most first-timers. Wanderlust wanted to take a tamer one, but Tuna believed this problem statement wasn’t as formidable as it seemed, and it was “crackable, they’re IITians, they wouldn’t set it otherwise”.
Then was a long period of shooting in the dark, and brainstorming. We also asked the Gods of electronic and mechanical engineering for direction, but all we got were jargon and taunts.
Which might have been a good thing: it helped us see the simplicity of the problem. The winter break was on, and after a million chat sessions and some serendipitous interjections by Wanderlust’s mum, we came something close to a solution – it was the Numbrella, a mega-sized umbrella with 7 folds as opposed to a normal umbrella that has 3 folds.
Started the implementation ten days before the contest. Got to know Mangalore’s Market like the backs of our hands. ‘Twas a painful few days when we were cutting and piecing together umbrella ribs armed only with snips, screwdrivers and hammers, and the very Guevaran fix-all – wire, with only The Beatles to soothe us.
The frame was all done, and all we needed was to stitch the cloth on to it. For all those ignorant ones, cloth is HEAVY. Full credit to Tuna for that – she made every single stitch on the Numbrella.
And then the people at the carpentry workshop, who gave us an elementary course in sawing and filing and finished the job that’d’ve otherwise taken us ages – we couldn’t have done it without you, sirs.
Mumbai. Lovely city. IITB. The campus in itself is a place worth visiting. After block timings at NITK, IITB seemed like heaven – we could roam around the campus at odd hours in the night, feeling perfectly safe. We discovered to our ire that our event was the last ever one to be held. We spent much of the four days there adding improvements to our design, improvising with rubberbands, and the numbrella getting crapped on by pigeons and crows. And also being asked how it was at Surat [aargh!], where is this NITK place [Suratkal, not Surat, Karnataka, next to Mangalore], where on earth is Mangalore, is it just Bangalore misspelled, or is that how it is locally known, but they thought that was Bengal-ooru or something….
And there was SO MUCH ELSE to do! Impromptu contests, exhibitions, other events to watch, meeting up with friends-of-friends, meeting relatives in Mumbai, exploring the city [post-midnight jaunts on local trains.. it doesn’t feel post-midnight at all!]… phew! You needn’t be a participant to have fun there. Ah, and Aeon Flux premiered there, and we missed it thanks to our event being held the very next day, and our model not yet complete.
The event did finally take place after a long, long series of delays, and our hard work came to something, and we won the design prize. Whew!
Though we didn’t experience Techfest in its fullest, the experience has taught us a lot.
Explorative prototyping is not a joke, though for practical purposes you should assume it is one. Never ever discount any brainstorm you might have, for you never know, that might be the precursor to a great practical idea that is just what you’re looking for.
No idea is too meaningless, or too nonsensical to be considered seriously. Everything strikes as a fantastic idea, it is the engineer’s job to bring it down to earth.
Your implementation need not look like a slickchick device like GE’s [unless it’s software], but it does matter that the idea behind it feels like one. And it also matters that you slog like a GE employee at realizing it.
Never be afraid to dream and visualize ahead. Feasiblity checks come much later in the game, as anyone who’s studied [or mugged] Software Engineering Principles would know.
And if you’re shying away from participating ‘coz you think you’re a noob, trust us, you’ll remain one.
For all the freshies and sophies who might come across this, first and second year doesn’t mean that you are incapable of handling the problem statements. Most of them are just testing your ability to bring ideas into reality. Well, there are some hardcore technicalities but there is nothing wrong in giving it a try. It’s also the time when you experiment with new people to work with, and trust us, that is absolutely essential to finally decide what sort of a person you would really like to work with, and who you would work with best.
You mightn’t win the first time you try out something, but that isn’t reason enough to lose heart and not try again. The experience in itself is one where you learn a lot more than from all that you’ve been doing till now in your engineering. The joy of seeing your model work is worth it all, and more.
Oh, and do read a lot of sci-fi, it does help when it comes to outrageous ideas.
And a tad more practical advice: The Mechie workshops at NITK absolutely rock. They really know stuff, and are a big help when it comes to projects and fests.
And all ye ditchers, you don’t know what you’re missing. And some of you, we suppose, never will.
See ya at Engineer ’07!
PS: TheG reminded us of our time at Techfest a while ago, and was surprised that none of us had blogged about one of the conversations we had, concerning a pistol, a shootout, elite Indian universities and Harry Potter. We must admit, that was one of the craziest conversations ever, where all the outrageous ideas the three of us had been gathering over the previous three months actually reached a new high, which we never believed possible. YouKnowWhat dude, you rock. *Chuckle*