This blog as might be apparent from the title has to do with running, biking and basically other outdoor individualistic sports, sometimes extreme, such as rock climbing . But don't be surprised if you find articles on work, personal life, music and even philosophy, this blog is an exception in this aspect in the blogosphere of running blogs and I am trying to revamp the blog to make it more runner friendly. You might want to look at the sidebar titled 'categorised', which as is obvious, categorizes my posts into different areas of interest.
The other thing that might interest many people is a section on 'running videos' and 'general videos' on the side bar, which I keep updating now and then.
I plan to bring in more posts on running and biking, with some added colour, so as to make them 'complete'. That's about it for now.
As a post-note, I have run a half-marathon, but I am yet to attempt a marathon, which through some concerted effort and time should happen in the future, but that ofcourse is not the culmination of this blog, it would on the contrary be something to jumpstart this blog onto new vistas.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What ails the B.Tech programme

The other day, I had a four hour long discussion with my guide which touched upon the usual project stuff(lasted no longer than 20 minutes) and also on some serious issues that are of immediate concern atleast in a timeline stretching into the next 5-10 years.

Let's look at the life of a person who gets into IIT. He has a basic interest in maths and sciences during the school days and hears of the word IIT somewhere in his 7th or 8th class. Now, over the next two years, he may or may not be motivated by his parents and cousins to aspire for iit or could also be self-motivated, so that after completion of his 10th, he is clear of his goal in life and gets enrolled in a coaching center or may subscribe to correspondence courses towards the attainment of this goal or may prepare on his own. The next two years may entail some real hard effort on the part of this aspirer, but along the way he acquires a real love for maths, physics and/or chemistry as the case maybe, so that the hard effort is not all that bitter and in most cases may actually be enjoyable and exciting.

So far so good. Now he appears for the jee entrance and with a little bit of luck in his favour (the luck here being proportional to the effort put in over the past two years), he clears the entrance and gets into one of the IITs, into one of the branches, chosen by him as what seems to be the best of the available branches during the time of counselling.

Having gotten into the portals, he is in awe of the IIT campus and remains so in a dazed state for a few weeks...till the time he realises that the course schedule for the sem is a little too taxing and that the dreaded workshop seems too tiresome or that there is something known as the 'quizzes'. First year passes by quickly, those lucky enough end up with a good gpa, those not, don't know what hit them and have to settle for less.

Second year sees the guy carrying forward the enthusiasm shown in the first year and those raring to climb up the cgpa ladder do so by becoming 'muggus'. Others find that it doesn't entail much effort to get through the sem and this is realised that the system..the B.Tech system can be beaten easily...all you gotta do is mug some days before the quiz and you get the grade accordingly...

Beating the system is all about putting just enough effort for a course so as to secure a certain grade. So apart from attending classes, our guy doesn't seem to be doing anything thought-provoking or interesting in the technical realms.

By the start of the third year, having been around for two years, our guy starts bunking the classes big time, but ofcourse there are people who would still be in the race for grades and hence would fall under the 'muggu' category. What happens in the fourth year is better left unsaid...

Having put in considerable effort in the pre-jee days, it is sad to note that only a fraction of that effort and enthusiasm is carried forward in the post-jee days. Agreed, college days are supposed to be fun, but then fun can be had doing stuff..interesting projects, new ideas, research work, a first-hand attempt at
advancing the realms of technical know-how.... research.

If during jee prep., the existing knowledge in physics and maths seemed interesting to know about, how exciting would it be to add to that knowledge base, contribute in your own tiny way so as to expand that base..wouldn't that be a good aim or an outcome of a B.Tech system....Well outstanding research is not expected, but then the faculty of thinking which somehow seems to have become dormant after entry into college, needs to be propped up through courses which are designed in a way that fulfill this purpose.

The system, to which the students get attuned to by the end of second year, brings about resentment for courses which require some amount of work(read: thinking and effort ), as against courses where everything is laid down nice and pre-mixed food: Put the contents in a bowl of water, heat it a little and it's ready for consumption.

There is too much perceived stress on the attainment of good grades. Grades are important, but it may hinder the enthusiasm shown by a student towards interesting projects for the lack of time due to his committment towards mugging for the other courses or the already ingrained attitude of beating the system(maximum result from minimum effort).

If grades were subject to de-emphasis and more importatnly, the courses were designed to make the students think in an out-of-box fashion,it would go a long way into ensuring that the purpose of a B.Tech program gets served by making more students inclined towards research(having had some exposure to it) at the end of a B.Tech program. If the redesigning of the courses leads to less content being covered, then the B.Tech program which is currently a four year one could be extended by another year. We already have a 5 year integrated program, which seems much better than the 4 year B.Tech program as it gives the student a full one year to do some serious research and contribute positively to the advancement of research in the institute. Increasing the number of students in the integrated(dual degree) program
would also help the cause.


NaiKutti said...

well written karthik.. btech programmes shld also involve more practical projects (thereby thinking out-of the box for solutions) rather than just theoretical problem solving...

pradeep said...

good one karthik...totally mirrors my views on this.have had long discussions about this...

but, if u do that in ur btech program...and come out of it...the world is not going to treat u any is even more dog eat dog..

things u have to do at no less painful than what you mentioned...

when i mean work..i meant working in any of the companies...u cannot forever continue on researching, is my opinion...but thats mine ...

anyway good post da..

Bluepanther said...

A pertinent point but the first thing that we should understand is that nothing is perfect and everything is ailed by something. Then again the future is in the person doing the job and not in the job. So, being at any IIT provides you with an opporunity to do so much- what you do in the final analysis is your choice.

arbit said...

@naikutti : Thanks man.

@pradeep: this pepe? thanks for dropping by da..

@blue panther:
True, what we do in life is our own choice, but then are we aware of the choice is what I question in this post.

I was ready to write CAT not so long ago and research, well research I had the faintest of the idea about what it was all about. But one innovative course changed the path of my career..I found research interesting.
There are many people out there who are swept away by the CAT hysteria, a few of them would definitely harbour interest in research if given an opportunity..the aim of redesigning the courses is to capture that segment of the students.

Shree Kumar said...

I hope you have read "Five Point Something". It's a novel by Chetan Bhagat, about "what not to do at IIT". It also echoes some of your views :-)

It is really disheartening to know that the IITs suffer from some of the same ailments as the other technical education institutes (I had only guessed this somewhat). If a student has to mug to get into IIT, doesn't it naturally follow that s/he has to mug after getting into IIT ?

arbit said...

Hmm..exactly 'mugging' isn't an exciting thing to do..that's why many people here don't do it..If the subject is intriguing and interesting, people will automatically be drawn towards it...That's what I emphasised in the blog..The testing of the student has to be done in a way that doesn't hamper the enthusisasm for learning the subject...Muggu courses are obviously detested, but interesting courses that involve more of innovative out-of-box thinking is what is required.

Kennenisa Bekele with the WR

Robbie Mcewen and steve o'grady - The 'Nudge'