Proud to be an Engineer ?? – May be its high time for a Self Analysis

I am an Engineering (B.Tech) student frown in half way to qualification. I have a doubt, if anyone can answer me, it will be of great help to solve the greatest puzzle in my mind. My doubt is “Why engineering degree ??” – is it for finding something useful for the upcoming engineering career or with an intention that only very few should achieve this degree ?? You may sometimes say ‘BOTH’, but I’ll stand for the later argument only. Because very few of what is taught in Engineering is needed for the future – an information obtained from some pass-outs. Industries spend millions of money each year training the Engineers, a fed up small scale entrepreneur once told me “How would you expect us to feed these rascals, why do they go for engineering ? To play ??”. Then I assumed it as a mistake of the referred engineers. But now I reckon that it is not the poor engineers who are responsible, its the society that makes them so. It is not only engineering branch of higher studies that is hence ruined. But having experience in only this field, I am worthy to talk about it only.

 

I joined engineering with some crazy dreams worth laughing at – to make a mobile phone on myself, to control the nerves of the computers, to build an amazing home full of security, a James Bond style security breach etc.; for which I badly needed deep knowledge in electronics and communication. So I thought of taking it up as a career. Secondly, being told for years, computer engineers work at the cost of their life’s enjoyment, families etc., I was also influenced my many such people echoing the same lines, which included my teachers, parents, acquaintances and many others. I am not blaming them for my misfortune, It is my sole responsibility to take up my fate – as mentioned in the famous Mortal Kombat – “every man is responsible for his own destiny” – it is not others to be blamed for what all non-sense we have committed. Or when you learn to take up the fate as your own responsibility, there starts the real essence of wisdom, which I lack greatly.  Anyhow finally, after taking admission in one of the reputed colleges of Kerala, after 2 years I found myself to be incompatible with the educational system, the syllabus refers to equations but

not the theory; the graphs, but not the operations. These people might be thinking that the students remember these bunch of equations even after their course, but in reality they'd remember it for not more than a few days or at most a few weeks.

In the first 3 semesters, engineering was so easy for me that I didn’t even had a glance at my books before the exams, still I managed to score an aggregate of 74% (74% in CUSAT – Cochin University of Science and Technology – indeed a good score). But when I reached the 4th semester, things started changing. I was not able to cope with the concept of studying ‘as it is’. From the very young ages itself, I was used to understanding or learning things instead of ‘studying’ – may be a hereditary trait from my mothers legacy, but  I hated the method of learning by heart instead of learning by brain and my hatred extended also to those who do so. But when it came to the engineering level, I came across some subject and/or teachers insisting studying everything without even knowing what we are studying about. After worries about getting 2 supplies in my 4th semester – for Signals and Systems and Power Electronics, I managed to get OK with Signals, but Power Electronics traited me – my first ever failure in my life regarding studies. I was expecting it though – one day before the results were announced, I told my lab mate for a joke that I got the results and I have an aggregate of 66% marks with 1 supply for IPE (power electronics) – just a calculation or foresight about the results. But the poor lab-mate is till trying to work out how I managed to get the results before it was announced ( I got 68% instead of the predicted 66%, but she seldom seemed to notice that small change.)

 

With lots of aspirations about the forthcoming semester I got ready for the next one - Semester 5, the present sem., which I suspect would change the coarse of my life. Earlier also mathematics was too bad for me, I got only two cleared out of the 8 series examinations I wrote, but managed to just pass through the main exams – the 4 university exams. But to my most dreadful of nightmares, all the subjects excepting one was mathematics in its various forms. I was exhausted !! Now at the midst of university exams of sem. 5,  having written two examinations 2 days ago and waiting for another 4 starting again 2 days from today, I am in great despair – thinking about the Electromagnetic Theory already written, in which even if in any chance i pass, the result would not exceed just the pass mark; and also about the 3 mathematical subjects awaiting me. The thought of being failed in the exams do not affect me as myself, but now having a greater need for securing a job right after the course, I am a bit worried. There are several of my dreams that would be ruined if I do not get a job soon as I pass. I write this article trying to calm myself down from cursing and swearing the educationalists and the fellow students who find it more easy than anything else to ‘by-heart’ the things in the texts as such, least bothered about Books_tnbwhat it really is. I personally have come across people who managed to learn a whole 100 line program by just mugging up and people who search many mathematics books for equations to draw a line on a computer screen or to fix a logical error and everything in vein; people who get their projects done from outside for a good lot of money because they can’t do it themselves;   – I hate such people.

 

It may sometimes be felt that I am writing this out of my frustration from being a bad performer in the recent examinations, well trust me – I’m not ! My argument, from I think, are clear and genuine and written fully consciously rather than out of frustration. Just think for yourself, is a computer engineer worthy if he/she don’t know even to diagnose a computer problem and suggest whether its a hardware one or a software one, and if possible with raw hand, take some measure to fix it; or an electronics engineer who don’t even know to replace a burnt capacitor with a good one; or an electrical engineer who don’t even know how to change a bulb or rewire a fuse even if they have lots of percentages in examinations. Can such engineers be called real engineers without compromising the dignity of the profession. I know many PhD holders/ researchers in electronics and communication who don’t know how to even connect a TV out to a projector, computer engineers who don’t even know how to respond to a system failure ( a blue screen most of you might have observed with some white coloured text or some other forms of error messages – just turn off your computer and restart, that’s the fix) instead call a lab technician for assistance (rather take over Open-mouthed smile). Is a teacher worthy enough if he/she can tell their students only equations, but not where they have come from; simply long algorithms, not what they do. I really don’t think so – not assaulting any of my teachers, just telling a common fact. I do respect a lot of teachers including my mother who teach very well rather than just pulling out theories reading textbooks or writing some equations not even knowing what they suggest. This is why I hate most of the maths teachers. they teach the laplacian iteration loops with a bunch of problems, but don’t know what they are teaching their students about – well they are often used in computer graphics for pixel corrections, I cannot explain here in detail.

 

I am a good teacher, not boasting – from what I judge of myself and from what I have been from others, I am a good teacher. I love teaching what all i know, and i loved since my childhood – since I was 6 or 7 years old, my mother says. I had had a remarkable experience when I was doing my schooling in Navodaya Vidyalaya, there was a boy in our class when i was in my 10th standard with whom I had really had many quarrels(indeed I was a great bully at my school) – name, I don’t wish to share. When we approached our CBSE board examinations, I tried to teach him Science (he was dreadful in science) not out of sympathy towards him, just for myself that when I teach, I’d learn. He might have liked my teaching, he got stuck with me for the rest of the subjects also, but I concentrated much on science, because I aspired to be the school topper for that. The exams went through, and I expected what I desired, but I never bother even to ask him how his exams were. I really became the topper in the school, though 1 or 2 accompanied me with the same marks, still I never asked his marks. For the higher secondary schooling he took commerce stream and me science. I never event remembered about teaching him, because it was not who he was, but which the subject was, that bothered me. I continued to consider him just as a batch mate as i had before the exams. Two years later we had had written each others’ auto graph books. I was able to read that only after the school is over and a great venture for entrance exams began. I went through the autographs of my favourite friends only and never even thought of reading his messages. After every kind of headaches I took some time to read the whole autograph books. When I read his, I was wondered about how he remembered those days and thank me explicitly for his marks in science (it was around 80-90), he swears that if I had not been there, he’d have definitely failed. I was flooded with tears, it was for the first time I was emotional about such things, may be because I have never expected such a note of gratitude. More than the happiness, what made me happy was that he had since then started grasping things as I have taught him and began to get far better yields than just mugging up and since he took commerce, it was a fresh new platform too to begin a new kind of practice.

 

I always do a survey on whomever I teach something, and the statistics show that whoever have learnt the topic by understanding the concepts can remember it even after years. I feel so proud when I hear my brother or some friends speaking something I have taught them years before. If you think that you too belong to the class of people who mug up things, at least give it a try – try to learn something by fully understanding the concept instead of mugging up the paragraphs or equations, I bet you’ll remember that clearly and without any mistake to the maximum of your memory capacity, just like having watched a movie or read a favourite novel. Indeed at the time of studying for the first time, it’ll take a reasonable time, but take it that you’ll have to do this only once for your entire life, at least for some years to come. If you do it, and if you yourself understand the outcome, positive or negative, please comment here so that others too would be motivated to try the same.

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