Category: Engineering Education

Academic Projects

Kenney Jacob has written an article on academic projects here.

Most of his observations are true. Being a faculty member, I have seen this kind of activities in several institutions around Trivandrum. Just take a look at the local classifieds section of The Hindhu. You will see several ads promising students with things like real time linux embedded linux.etc.

I have joined my college very recently and I was asked to do evaluation of a few final year projects last month. Most of the projects were ready made stuff bought from some of these training companies.

Our department has a minor project in the sixth semester. Present sixth semester started in December 2007. I have insisted that all sixth semester projects must be done in the college lab itself. I don’t care if the minor project is really minor. But , I need some kind of contribution from every one in the project.

Consequently, some of them have take very simple projects. But, I will see to it that they design the circuit, simulate it , write the code if any and finally solder it themselves on home made PCBs.

Here is the advice I gave to some of my own students. Your project must be simple enough. I don’t expect any one to invent a new gadget or technology overnight. If you are daring, I dont mind you doing so. I suggest you to take up projects in emerging technologies. Make sure that you grasp at least the basics of your chosen topic ( at least by the end of the project). Do the project in a professional manner. Keep everything documented. If possible, start a home page/blog for your project and publish the report on internet.

You must work towards the completion of projects in the stipulated time. I don’t expect all projects to be completed as expected. There may the technical and practical hitches. Well, that doesn’t matter if you have done your home work and made a through study of your chosen area.

Most of the time you will get around 2 months for a projects. In between, most of you will get some kind of placement which will probably end your interest in academic activities. If you don’t complete a project due to your lack of interest , I can find it out quickly and I wont tolerate.

After this sermon, some of the guys in my college has made some progress. 😀

Here is another sentiment prevailing in student community:- most of the HR managers in companies like Infosys , or Satyam are not really concerned about what their engineers study at college. They just check, whether the guy can talk decent English and do basic arithmetic. Then why should I bother to study bla bla bla when my dad can buy it for me. After all he has bought me a seat in Engineering College.

Short Term Training Programme at RIT

This week I was at Department of Computer Science, Rajiv Ghandhi Institute of Technology , Kottayam in connection with a short term training program for young Computer Science Lecturers of various Engineering Colleges. AICTE has made attendance in this kind of training programs mandatory for all lectures( of course for promotions). Usually, these programmes are conducted in a leisurely manner. Teachers take a break from their routine work and enjoy the course as leisurely exercise . The course at RIT was also running in the same manner. There were expert talks on java html and some other hot technologies, but nobody was bothered.

I was asked to take 4 sessions ( 12 hours) on developing web applications in LAMP environment. The first thing I asked the course coordinator was to arrange classes in the computer lab. I made a few simple slide explaining how to write “hello world” in php and did the entire presentation in the lab. I asked every one to actually type the scripts and upload it to a web server.

I found out several interesting thing. Most of our young computer science lecturers have never used thing like ftp, ssh and vi. I had some real trouble in making them understand the basics of web programming. Another strange thing was that no one knew sql.

At the end of my fourth session , I forced all of them to write a small database driven mark list lookup and printing program. Most of them were astonished to see that such a web application is trivial.
I am pretty amazed to see a vertical drop in the quality of teachers in Engineering College . ( I feel this daily at my college too). Nobody knows programming. The only programming experience they have is in Turbo C. Any programming with out an IDE is disastrous for them. ( I have banned the use of Turbo C in my college. Our students have no problem adjusting to gcc and vi. But some of our teachers were frantically looking for conio.h :D)

Any way, the two day program rekindled my interest in FLOSS as a tool for better Engineering Education. I am going to motivate some of my student about it.