A peek into IIT Bombay

I was fortunate to visit IIT Bombay for a duration of three months, from October to December 2016.  I became part of a well-established research lab, SEIL, which works in energy sustainability. The team members are dynamic, diverse consisting of PhD’s, MTech’s, research staff and one driver (Lab Head). Also, we had a CZAR, but a caring one. Some members have expertise in embedded side and some are great in data churning and few are all-rounders. Overall, the team is a mix of nerds, enthusiasts and of course procrastinators!

First two weeks were terrible for me, where I felt like an alien on campus. There were various reasons for this felling – i)  Everyone was engrossed in their red velvet cubicles either tweaking smart meter, playing with sensors, soldering boards or doing some incompressible stuff, which only they can decode. ii) administrative related issues, iii) and Mumbai residential flat rules. But all thanks to weekly “group meetings” and “Smart ICT” classes, which broke the frozen state and I felt like at my home institute. The best part of the class was that almost every week an eminent figure used to come, deliver his best and made us crazy for one and half hour. I rate this course as my best course I have ever attended, in which the instructor used to deliver lectures in the form of stories and made us awestruck. Remaining ten weeks were enjoying during which work went smoothly. 

Well, I stayed outside the campus, but I survived for the first month with the food of Phoenix (H10), second month with Woodland (H8) and the last month with Queen of the campus, the enlightened abode (H1).

Some NP questions which I was never able to solve include:

  1. How KReSIT got the best building architecture award! Once one of my visitors even commented that whole IIIT-D can get accommodated inside KReSIT!
  2. Why I got embarrassed with the technical fest of IITB and I felt bad in Mood Indigo, Asia’s biggest cultural fest.
  3. Where were my lab mates during Mood Indigo!
  4. If Saraswat bank has branches in America, then why Canara bank ATM failed to dispense money to a 90 minutes clowner during demonetisation!

The things which I am going to miss include:

  1. The playground: where the maintainers make it ready for every type of game and you feel fully occupied with the  7 – 9 long symmetrical, colored running tracks. These tracks are used by both fast runners and crawling thinkers. Also, you will find a life outside hectic schedules and people doing some unknown exercise which you do not find even on youtube
  2. The Central Library: A well-lit whitish building from both inside and outside. A calm place where you find students either in deep studies or watching videos to shun frustration.
  3. The queen of the campus:  A place where you relax and watch 20 minutes of TV after regular meals.

Finally, three months stay finished and it was my last working day on campus. On this day, I had a ten minutes of wisdom sermon from my guide;  then all lab members assembled and had a home made Cake (Thanks for the delicious cake). And to my surprise, I was requested to give a speech of above details, which I did.  Oh, I forgot to thank Eduroam facility, otherwise, I might have suffered a lot on campus. 

Our IIT Bombay team at one of the lab lunchesimg_20161215_160434

Concluding with the statement of my guide, “Once a SEILER, always a SEILER”.

The Magic of Thinking Big

I got a chance to read the book titled “The Magic of Thinking big” by David J. Schwartz. I started to read on 21 April 2016 and finished on 20 May 2016. I find this book helpful as it guides – how should we develop/improve our innate to the best. This book supports each claim with real-world examples. I believe it is impossible to contradict the author. While reading, I tried to note down some anecdotes and here I pen down the same for my revision. Each bullet heading refers to a different chapter title and sub-bullets are the anecdotes found in the respective chapter

  • Belief
    • Believe in yourself that you can grow/improve with time if you put an effort
    • Believe you are going to make a difference in this world if you would like
  • Cure yourself on Excusists
    • Thinking guides Intelligence –  Think always. Take some time out of your busy schedule and think what you are doing, how you can improve the things, are you really doing something meaningful or it is wastage of time
    • Avoid excusitis: Types – Health, Intelligence, age, luck. Don’t give excuses of any of the mentioned types. Any of these excuses is just like a disease which starts because of small issue but it covers your entire body/life till death. Better avoid giving any excuse. Accept your fault at first hand. 
  •  Build Confidence and Destroy Fear 
    • Action cures fear. Indecision and postponement fertilise fear
    • Hope is a start. It needs action to win victories
    • Destroy negative thoughts before they become mental monsters
    • Recall only best moments of your life
    • Don’t do things that result in guilt. Guilt has serious repercussions
    • Motions/actions are the precursors of emotions
  • How to think Big  
    • Know thyself/yourself
    • Never sell yourself short
    • Conquer the crime of self-deprecation. Concentrate on your assets
    • To think big, use words that produce big positive mental images
    • See Image as – Bright, hope, success, fun, and victory
    • Use big, positive, cheerful words and phrases to describe how you feel
    • Use bright, cheerful, favourable words and phrases to describe other people
    • Use positive language to encourage others
    • Use positive language to outline plans to others
    • Visualisation adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck with the present
    • Practice adding value to things, to people, and to yourself
    • Keep your eyes focused on big objective
    • Ask, “Is it really important”
    • Don’t fall into the triviality trap
  • How to think and dream creatively
    • When you believe in something, your mind automatically finds ways to get it 
    • Where there is a will, there is a way
    • Develop weekly improvement programme
    • Devote 10 minutes every day before work: What better I can do today? What best I can achieve today?
    • Capacity is a state of mind! How much we can do, depends on  how much we think we can do
    • Don’t let traditions paralyze your mind. Be experimental!
    • Ask yourself, “How can I do more?”
    • Practice asking and listening. 
    • Stretch your mind. Associate with people who can help you think of new ideas
  • You are what you think you are 
    • Dress properly. It defines you to others and most importantly to your innate. It gives you respect and defines your identity. Your appearance talks to others
    • Look important and think your work is important
    • The way we think about our jobs determines how our subordinates think toward their jobs
    • Always give a pep-talk [confidence building]
    • Practice uplifting self-praise. Don’t  practise belittling self-punishment
    • Sell yourself on yourself. Create a Commercial of yourself and repeat this commercial every day number of times
    • Always ask yourself, “Is this the way an important person thinks?”
  • Manage your environment 
    • You are a product of your environment
    • Always associate with positive people, and indulge with diverse groups. This gives a first-hand experience and increases your horizon
    • Never get involved in gossips. It is a thought poison
  • Make your attitudes your allies 
    • Build enthusiasm. Possible means: (i) Dig Deeper, (ii) Broadcast good news
    • Practice Appreciation: No matters what, to whom, always appreciate
    • Practice calling people by their names
    • Ask everyday yourself, “ What can I do today to make the day better, add-on scientific career”  
  • Get the Action Habit 
    • Don’t wait for perfect actions. Got an idea – work over it as soon as possible
    • To fight fear, act. To increase fear – wait, postpone, put-off
    • Action cures fear
    • Take pencil and paper; and start writing, figuring your ideas on paper
    • Benjamin Franklin: Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today
  • How to turn defeat into action 
    • Persistence does not guarantee victory, but adding experimentation make things happen. Possible approach: Apply, fail and, re-learn 
    • Study your setbacks to make your future bright
    • Stop blaming luck. Blaming luck will never help you to reach your full potential
    • Find the good side of each situation
  • Use goals to Help you Grow 
    • Goal should be clear and crisp, what you are going to do
    • Without setting goals, people work on hazy things without knowing where they spend time
    • Goals are essential to success as air is to life
    • Success requires heart and soul effort and you can put both of them into what you really desire. So, always work on the things which you like, no matters what other people think
    • Energy increases and even multiplies when you set a desired goal  and resolve to work towards that goal.
    • Use goals to live longer
    • Achieve your goals one at a time. Build 30-day goals
    • Invest in yourself. Purchase things that build your mental power and efficiency.
  • How to think like a leader 
    • Think progress, believe in progress and push for progress
    • Over time, we learn different ways to do things from experiences and from colleagues. Copy only high standards in your daily routine. Be sure that the master carbon copy is worth duplicating
    • Take time from every day/every weekend to confer with yourself, to introspect and to tap  your supreme thinking. Spend some time alone  every day just for thinking.

The book concludes with the following lines: A wise man will be a master of his mind. A fool will be its slave.

What Best College Students Do

The title of this post is the name of a book written by Ken Bain. I heard about this book while attending the workshop on “Effective Teaching” by Dr. Pankaj Jalote at IIT-Delhi. I read this book  cover to cover and here I note down the important points I found within the book. Each bullet point mentions different qualities of best students

  • Goal oriented: Best students know what they want to do. Do you know?
  • Deliberate Practice: To achieve mastery in any specialized field, best students involve themselves in deliberate practice sessions. This practice should be done with consistency
  • Interconnections: Whenever you learn or see anything new, try to correlate it with the existing knowledge you have
  • Growth Mindset: Always believe intelligence is not fixed, but it can be improved with effort
  • Self-conversation: Always talk with yourself. Who am I? What am I doing here? Do I really making any difference or am I living someones’s else life
  • Reflecting on experiences: Best learners not only use their experience but they reflect on their experiences, i.e., they ponder while observing the game
  • Self-compassion: They are open and hence take responsibility of good or bad. They face failures, but they know this is a part and hence keep moving towards their goal
  • Mindfulness: Is a state of awareness. You see your problems clearly  and accept mental and social phenomenon.
  • Encouragement: Self-comfort, self-examination, and dedication.
  • Liberal arts: Do always different works/courses apart from your focused field. This always helps you to create connections and broaden the horizons
  • Self-control, responsibility, deadlines

Reference:

  •  What Best College Students book by Ken Bain