Friday Oct 09, 2009

Innovation @ ACM SVNIT

As most you reading this blog might know, I was the Chairperson of the ACM Student Chapter of our college last year. As I am in my final year now, I have resigned and handed over the reigns of the chapter to an enthusiastic group of third year students. I will advising them in the capacity of a Student Mentor and so will Punit Mehta, the ex Vice Chairperson.

Until now the focus of ACM has been in conducting events and imparting knowledge to the students. This year, the junior decided to curtail on such events and instead go on a project drive where a group of students from First (Freshers) and Second (Sophomore) years will be alloted a project and they have to complete it by the end of this year. The will be guided by their seniors in Third (Junior) years.

Being senior students, I and Punit are guiding these students in  their projects. Our job is to look after all the projects and ensure that issues are sorted and deadlines met. The projects are from varied areas like web designing, J2ME, Java apps, Robotics, Image Processing and Linux. I wont go into the details here. Between me and Punit, we have experience in all the areas and yes, the projects were itself decided based on the experience of the people guiding them. A Project Allotment drive was conducted by the current ACM Core Team and projects were assigned.

And today was the first meeting since then.It was held at the canteen.I and Punit talked to the students on what technologies they were required to learn and how to go ahead with it. We gave each team a small task to accomplish by the end of their diwali vacations. Also we would be interacting with them on the ACM SVNIT Mailing list. We have high hopes with these projects.Lets see how things turn up.

Sunday Sep 27, 2009

Awesomeness as I see it

I have been part of various committees and organizations in this college. I was deeply involved with the ACM Chapter as a volunteer, then a Secretary and finally as the Chairperson. One other organization that I have been involved over the last one year is Renesa, the college monthly mouthpiece. I have been the editor of the tech page for over a year after Sunayana quit Renesa (Yes, like in almost everything I followed my Tech mom's (Sunayana) footsteps here too).


The last year we really did not work much. We could not bring out the promised number of issues and never made it on time. I would not blame any particular person or persons for this. It was a collective failure. A failure to understand what Renesa meant to the college, a lack of dedication and enthusiasm. We used to have meetings where some gave ideas but which never got implemented or were implemented poorly. I myself wrote boring articles for the tech page and mostly they were hastily written. Another reason why the editors were not interested in writing good articles was probably the fact that nobody ever read those. People were mostly interested in the college gossip page called "Rumor Mill". The rest of the pages were used for various innovative purposes like tissue paper in the canteen, making kites etc. So that dampened the enthusiasm of the writers. Of course this is not just a fault with the readers, if the content fails to generate interest a large part of fault of course goes to the content writers and planners. In all Renesa had become just another thing that the college does. Just another slightly colorful piece of paper.


Now come to this academic year. A new team was formed with Nijeesh Padmanabhan , Ashwin S, Srividya, Thomas, Swati and Shruti at the helm. Nijeesh is the editorial consultant and chief designer. Ashwin S and Srividya are the chief editors. Thomas along with Swati and Shruti are the impact consultant (btw, do magazines have such designations? ;-) ) . And what was the difference this time? Well these guys had a vision. They really wanted to "Change our world" with Renesa. They wanted it to be platform for people to think, to learn and also have fun. Most importantly, they expected people to read it and love it. Renesa, to these guys, is not a thing that they have to do, it is a responsibility they love to execute. And this is the vision they propagated to the team, specially Nijeesh, Ashwin and Thomas. And motivated they were. Earlier where we had to pester editors to write articles, this time we had an avalanche of articles and most of them very good ones. It was hard to decide which one to print and which one to reject. Our first issue had 33,000 words in 16 pages. To include that many articles, we reduced the font size. Readability suffered because of that and I have assured by Nijeesh that this wont happen again and I take his word for it because he wants his balls intact.


The design too was awesome. Never before did Renesa have so many colours and my respect for Nijeesh's designing skills has risen considerably. We printed Renesa in glossy paper and people loved it. Our editors debated endlessly on what to write, how to write on the Renesa mailing list. In fact, my mailbox received at least 15 Renesa mails a day. Last year there used to be 15 mails per month. We put up a new Renesa site. As of now, the site does not contain much content but we expect usage to pick up. The site is my job so I am thinking of ideas to promote the site. Our alumni read the issue and loved it. We got lot many mails of appreciation from them. Some even circulated the issue among their colleagues and relived their college life through Renesa. Students sent SMSs of appreciation with one even saying that he loved the issue so much that he was afraid to read it, lest it get damaged or wrinkled.


The editors are putting in everything they got. No one calls it work. We call it fun. Some of us are now accused of not having a life beyond Renesa because Renesa constantly crops up in our discussions. Some of the new things that have been included this year are "Jack and Jill" where we publicize about a guy and a gal of our college who have had significant achievements so that others can emulate them, "Reviews" where we have reviewed not just movies and books but also gadgets, restaurants etc, Guest articles by famous people (Shashi Tharoor wrote for the first issue), "Faculty Speak" where we ask a faculty to write, "Walk when you talk" where we interview a member of the college administration and College Band Review where we review the music bands (all Rock bands as of now) of the college. Also the Hindi editors are doing a fine job. And with this month's issue you can expect some really good stuff from them.


All this was good. Now the bad part. Where we went wrong? Well for one the font size was too small. Some people even asked for a free magnifying glass with the issue. There were too many spelling and grammatical errors in the issue. I am sure we can all do with a bit more proof reading.


As for my tech page, I am trying to move it from being a Computers only page to a more general tech page. I want to cover all branches of science and engineering. So suggestions and ideas are welcome.


Do visit our site www.svnit.edu.in/renesa and download an ecopy at http://www.svnit.edu.in/renesa/files/renesa.pdf


And finally, I would like to praise the marketing and distribution team for distributing some 1800 copies in 8 hours, delivered room to room across 11 hostels. And thats an awesome feat considering that there are only 4 people in Marketing. They rock.


As for my role in Renesa, I do the tech page and a bit of humor articles apart from making useless funny comments on the mailing list, abusing people and using expletives that would put many rappers (and Christian Bale) to shame. In all, I have taken it upon me that we never have a dull moment on the mailing list. Kudos to me for that.


Finally,
@Thomas: The above praise to you was probably the first and the last time I did that. Please do not expect such magnanimity again.
@Ashwin: I still love my abuses and nothing will stop me from using them.
@Renesa Team: You guys rock and so do I.

Friday Aug 07, 2009

HPC @ SVNIT

My SCALASCA project is coming to an end. Its nearly over. I will take up another after this. This seems to be addictive, I want to learn more and more about it. And I have such fantastic and supportive people like Ganesh, Rajesh and Verdi. I wont talk about my next project right now. Let me complete this one first.

Ganesh Sir has already let students from my college (www.svnit.ac.in) work on porting apps to OpenSolaris IPS. Now he is also willing to let selected students to work on HPC projects under Sun Engineers from Singapore, who are also researchers at NUS. And I am understandably ecstatic about it. This will really help our students. HPC @ Sun means the cutting edge of technology and some really cool projects.

Also I and a few other friends of mine are fully going ahead with our plan of setting up a cluster here. Exciting times ahead. :)

About

Hi. I am Sandip Dev. I am a student of Computer Engineering at SVNIT (NIT-Surat). My passions are coding, listening to music, reading and learning new things. I am also the Chairperson of the ACM Chapter of my college and Sun Campus Ambassador here.

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