Students from JK Lakshmipat University, Jaipur, look back at their a-MAY-zing experience even as they bring their semester at IIITH to a close.
As the Spring semester comes to an end on campus, there’s more than just the upcoming summer break that this trio is looking forward to. Part of a semester exchange programme from JK Lakshmipat University in Jaipur, Anshita Kanthed, Shivam Patel and Shivansh Agarwal are 2nd year UG students who have called IIITH their home since January this year. “For all practical purposes, we are IIITH students for this semester,” they chorus emphatically. They are the first batch of the programme that is a result of a tie-up between IIITH and JKLU.
“As an institute, we have been talking about this for some time about how some proportion of our students should be from other institutes. While we do have students from other institutes coming in for summer internships, a semester exchange where credits are transferred is not common. One interest was definitely to go to aspiring institutes and explore if those students could come here,” explains Prof. Ponnurangam Kumaruguru who played a vital role in the talks with JKLU. The Deans of both the institutes were involved in the mapping of courses to make sure that the students did not miss out on any prerequisites they needed for their semester back home.
The benefits of a semester exchange programme are many – whether it is abroad or in a top tier institute in the country like IIITH. According to Anshita, it all boils down to exposure. Recalling her Director’s advice to them before the start of their semester, she says that the emphasis was not only on embracing the opportunity to take courses traditionally unavailable in their own college but also about gaining an understanding of the different teaching methods, and immersing into the culture unique to IIITH. “He specifically told us not to stress about the academics and get burdened with coursework but to network, make connections and leave with lasting impressions,” remarks Anshita, who is no stranger to such an opportunity, having spent the previous semester at IIT Gandhinagar. The difference, for her, lies in the academic perspective. “The courses here push you to do more and the emphasis is the practical side of things,” she says. In addition to academics, the exchange students list multiple avenues that open up such as being privy to niche competitions or internships, and access to the entire ecosystem that a IIITH ‘membership’ affords.
More About Questions Than Answers
As a recreational badminton player, Shivansh Agarwal has been delighted to find himself in India’s badminton capital. Of the opinion that there are equally compelling issues beyond Engineering that concern every student, he found a natural allure in the multidisciplinary nature of courses at IIITH. “I like the courses taught here by the Human Sciences Research Group such as the Introduction to Human Sciences which deals with History, Literature, Sociology and others which are so important and cannot be ignored,” he says, adding that he also likes the system of having compulsory sports and music credits.
The soft-spoken Shivam Patel confesses that he is drawn towards Quantum Technology. “I’m currently exploring various aspects of Quantum Computing such as the different kinds of qubits and find it very fascinating. IIITH has been the best thing to happen to me especially since it has a dedicated Centre of Quantum Science and Technology,” he says. Shivam also mentions being sufficiently intrigued by the research work carried out at the Centre for Visual Information Technology (CVIT), which is a world-class research lab in Computer Vision.
Focus on Projects
The most vocal of the three, Anshita talks at length about her favourite course – Design and Analysis of Software Systems- where she got the unique opportunity of working for a real-life start-up. “I worked on a joint project on an app that monitors water levels. There were folks working on the dashboard, someone on the circuitry, someone else on the technical aspect and so on. Witnessing real-time deployment of the device on water tanks in IIITH and its connection to the app gave me feedback about its usefulness and made me happy,” she exclaims.
Finding Their Feet
“The biggest challenge that all students coming from aspiring institutes face when they come here is that our academic systems are very different from theirs, whether it is the teaching model, the level of teaching, professor interaction, the content itself is a little heavy, regular evaluations and so on. So I think it was challenging, but they managed,” says Prof. PK.
“Everyone here has been so helpful, never making us feel out of place,” remarks Anshita on behalf of her colleagues. Just like the majority of the students on campus, the three of them are currently in the throes of catching up on assignments and prepping for their end-sems. With the probability of an extension of another semester, they are contemplating their next course of action. “I may explore 3D Computer Vision under Dr. Avinash Sharma,” says Shivam thoughtfully. For Anshita who calls the Signal Processing and Communication Research Centre (SPCRC) her “first ‘home”, there is palpable excitement when she says, “I would like to continue to work on several projects at this lab.”