Every one or at least most-ones, who join NIT have had great ambitions. They might have had ideas about a highly technical environment with people who constantly engage in innovation and come up with new stuff all the time. They might have pictured themselves working together with other people to make interesting things or learning cool new stuff together.
But, somehow once they finish the first year, they become wiser and loose all interest in doing anything technical outside of their curriculum. This is true not just of people who have to struggle to keep up with the class. Even the top people, especially the 9 pointers display a marked lack of enthusiasm for anything that won’t fetch marks. There are exceptions of course. But, they are relatively few. Maybe the “system” is to blame to some extent.
About the “system”:
I constantly hear people complaining all the time about how screwed up our system is and in times of MDC , I too join the chorus. A lot of people explain away their lack of adventurousness with the lack of emphasis that the system places on non-academic work.
We are studying in a Govt. College that is better managed than most. The thing with studying in one is that we have freedom. No one is going to take an active interest in what you do. But they won’t bother to stop you too. That is the reason why a lot of the other Govt. Colleges like Thrissur, MEC etc. manage to come up with quality talent. We have all the facilitites that these colleges have(probably more) and as much freedom. No one is going to stop you from working all night in a lab or from cutting classes to get something ready in time for a competition.
One good example of how the students have managed to use the freedom that has been given to them is the quality of the cultural programs here. We have a strong L’n’D(Words not deeds! or was it the other way round?) and year round cultural programs. We do a good job of encouraging our talents in the field of drawing, signing, debating, acting, quizzing about general stuff etc.. The clubs that handle the above stuff attract top quality talent.
I am not saying that we should stop encouraging the all-round development of students. But, somehow I feel that students are being dented on their technical side. And being a Institute of Technology, that is simply unacceptable.
We don’t have year round technical programs and the events that we do have like Tathva and FOSSMEET can definitely do better. The reason for the events not being the successes they ought to be is because of the lack of a movement. You cannot hold a week long extravaganza and expect people to suddenly become all that interested in technology. Participation can be ensured only with a strong base of technically oriented people for which forums and user groups are absolute necessities.
Maybe the fact that most people pick engineering and then their course with absolutely no clue as to what they are getting into has something to do with our total disregard for what we study. But I am certain that a significant number have a desire to do better.
While there are lot of places where we could start changing things, I think we should start small. A lot among us have great ideas about what we study, about Open Source Software, up-coming technologies, projects that they want to do etc.. I think it would be great if there was some place where they could write about all this stuff. Once sharing of ideas begins, then maybe small meetings or get-together s of people who have similar interests won’t be that difficult to achieve.
Ways of implementing it:
We have to make sure that it would be easy for any newbie to join the system. We also have to make sure that while people have access to all the posts, there is also some way to highlight the top posts.
I am thinking of using the multiple authors feature of wordpress to kick start the idea… Once thing reach a critical mass, maybe something more specialised can be arranged…