10:54 PM | Author: Siva
Work till 4 am on thursday night, Sleep for 3 hrs, Get up and work out, Attend a marathon meeting for 3 hours which exposes you have a long way to go, Understand your procrastination is not going to help you, Attend a lecture on greedy approximations most of which is bouncers in the best and beamers in the worst, Realize it is weekend already, Boose and sleep like a log.

Oh, I missed this. Speaking about procrastination, search about good procrastination and realize there is something like that. Check out Paul Graham's article about Good and Bad Procrastination. That is something to feel good about. Isn't it ? So Blog about it !
9:36 PM | Author: Siva

Thiagarajar College of Engineering also known as "mottai arasar" college is where I spent 4 good years of my undergraduate days.** Our college is preparing for its Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2007-2008. As part of the preparation, the correspondent, the principal and the registrar were in Atlanta to meet some alumni. About 11 of us attended the alumni meet. Some of the alumni were even from 1979 batch. I was surprised to see such enthusiastic response from people who finished so many years back. The enthusiasm of the organizers was infectious. They did a great job by organizing this meet.

The principal gave a wonderful presentation about our college and where it stands now. 7 years doesn't seem too long. But I was able to see that the college has transformed itself totally in these 7 years. All for good. Some of the good things that I observed about the college.

  • The emphasis is shifting towards research. Well atleast in the ECE, Mech and EEE departments. The young departments, like CS, are yet to follow. I found the collaborations in International virtual lab really interesting.
  • The attitude of the administration is totally different now. In the current principal the college has found a man with a vision. This surely is going to help. For e.g.: They are visiting US universities and analyzing how to improve our college, Starting from simple things like having a t-shirt for TCE to having a separate program administration type of department to market the college. (T-shirts are banned in college now as it is in most of Anna Universities' affiliated colleges, but they are contemplating about lifting the ban)
  • The infrastructure, industry cooperation, everything seems to be improving. The Motorola’s R&D center in campus seems to be great idea.
With all the good points listed it would be biased if I don't list the negatives.
  • The first and foremost, our college was not ranked in the outlook's survey of India's best engineering colleges. The principal himself acknowledged this and said they are planning to participate in next year's survey. If Karunya, SSN and Amrita colleges are ranked and we are not ranked it won't look good. Though the ranking methodology is not so great, from the college's perspective it is good to be in the ranking than out of it. Especially when we are pretty close to PSG on all the criteria listed and PSG is listed at 23, it makes a lot of sense to go for it.
  • Too few faculties with PhDs. There seems to be an effort to push the existing faculty to go for the PhD. But it may just improve the quantity rather than quality. They should target hiring PhDs. Attractive pay packages and benefits should do the job.
  • Too few students go for higher studies. In fact the principal didn't list the numbers. The college can never be considered a research institution if it is not motivating people for higher studies. There could be multiple reasons behind it. Some key reasons could be
  1. The student population in our college is predominantly from rural areas. So getting a job is mostly the primary goal when students enter college.
  2. Lack of motivation due to high paying jobs. (I don't believe this myself, people from madras leave high paying jobs to join ms/Phd)
  3. Lack of guidance in terms of career options, advantages in doing higher studies etc.
  • No active fund raising efforts. Even in the silver jubilee year the college is still not having a fund raising effort. From the reactions, I understand they are not very comfortable with it. This mindset should change and the college should seriously consider raising funds from Alumni.
Negatives 1, 2, 4 are administrative issues. For negative 3, I strongly believe the main reasons are the initial goal and the lack of guidance. I have some ideas to solve them. I know there exists a booklet in SVCE which jots down the steps to follow from first year to the day you land in a US university. It includes everything from FAQs about marks in semester exams, preparing undergrad level papers, GRE/GMAT/TOEFL preparations, application process, funding process, travel agent numbers, things to bring to US, EVERYTHING. If you get that book in first year, follow it, then you should land in a US university for MS/Phd without much of a problem.

I am planning to prepare one such booklet for our college. Of course, I am going to take help from a few others. A lot of info is available in the net. But the consolidation is going to take some effort. I would love to get questions from others to add to the booklet. If you happen to read this post and have tips /questions about the booklet send me an e-mail or leave a comment.

More photos of the alumni meet can be found in TCE Atlanta Alumni site.

** I carefully avoided the word "studied" in that first sentence :-)