Growing up in a family of science enthusiasts and literary lovers, I had the chance to experience the best of both worlds. While my cousins and uncles entranced me with science, the rest of my family captured my heart with the sweet essence of literature. From the moment the school leaving exam results were announced, there was a constant battle amongst my family with everyone convincing me to take up a stream that they had wanted to do, but were not able to. My mother always told me, “Do what you think is right, don’t listen to the others, you might not always know what their true intentions are”. I have always lived up to that.

“Engineering is over-rated.”
“You’re more a ‘literature person’.”
“Are you looking forward to ending up jobless?”
“You just can’t do engineering.”

The elders voiced in their thoughts, desperately trying to prevent me from pursuing engineering, but I had other ideas. Through the course of my life, my answer to “What motivates you?” has been ‘spite’. I have been living my life out of spite and so far, it has been good.

I was ecstatic when I got admission into KCG. I was going to spend the next four years, meet up with everyone’s expectations and gather as much knowledge and wisdom as I could. The day before the first day of college, everyone gave me several tips on survival.

At break of dawn, the ringing of my alarm sounded like a World War II air-raid siren – blaring, unceasing, crippling my thoughts and assaulting my ears. That did not stop me from hitting the snooze button repeatedly for the next thirty minutes before my senses awoke. There was a reason I set the clock to this unearthly hour, messing my already messed-up sleep schedule. It was the first day of college, a new beginning in the course of my life.

All my life, I have been a procrastinator. Not a quitter, but a procrastinator and that part of me had me staring at the blank ceiling for a little longer than usual and surprisingly, it was interesting. Thoughts swarmed my mind like bees in a hive.

“How do I adult and act like a college student?” defeated every other thought. In all honesty, I have not found the answer yet.

Despite me procrastinating for longer than I had intended to and almost missing my bus, I kept my ‘cool’ facade on. “Be yourself. It’s just college”, I reminded myself moments after I had gotten into the bus.

Perplexed and paranoid, I forced myself up the stairs, following the herd of students who had similar expressions on their faces. We had the same destination – the auditorium. Each step triggered my anxiety and increased my curiosity. My bewildered eyes scanned the room as a teacher called out our names according to our departments, bringing me out of the maze I had built in my mind. When she called out my name loud and sharp, I almost gave myself whiplash when I snapped my head in her direction. Unbeknownst to us, there were faces we had no idea would be our emotional support, personalities whom we would become fond of soon. Things may change; no one knows what the future has in store for us, or what life has to offer. After that, we were separated according to our departments and were given the schedule for the day. The science side of me was thrilled to find it was the laboratory session until noon. I was excited just as much as I was nervous considering that I had not spoken to anyone from my class yet, nor did I know how welcomed I would be.

The introductory part came in and I found it rather amusing. The creative answers for “Why did you choose engineering?” had me snickering in the last bench.

Looking through the syllabi of the subjects we had for the semester, I realized everything was a revised and a slightly more advanced version of what we had learned in 12th grade – except for Engineering Graphics. I am someone who struggles drawing straight lines and with EG as a subject, I could do nothing but heave a defeated sigh.

Making friends was not much of a big deal for me. I approached people with “Are you a Marvel fan?”, because at that instant, I could not find a better conversation starter. The typical “Dude, what were your 12th marks?” seemed a little too clichéd and trust me, no one wants to bring back war memories.

Lunchtime rolled in like a rock down a hill, the blaring siren we have for a bell made me realize that my alarm was not too bad after all. I spent the hour roaming around campus, discovering new places with excitement and getting lost every now and then.

Before I could even take in everything that had happened, the final bell rang, a signal for us to go home. Everyone scurried out of the classes screaming, “I’ll meet you tomorrow!” to their friends.

Fortunately, I was proven wrong. I felt very welcome. I did not have to alter my personality in any way to fit in. Everyone accepted me the way I was, as I did them. Much to my surprise, I befriended quite a handful (me being me, I counted the number of friends I made on day one, en route home).

My first day at KCG was quite a normal one. After all, it was just the first day. There was more to come and the question to ask is, ‘Was I prepared?’ No, not really. In my opinion, college and school are two separate things and they should never be compared. They are different places and different experiences. Everything is different except for one similarity: classes.

Authored by : Prashanthi Bhaskaran – Ist year – Department of ECE

Throughout a person’s life, there is no shortage of memorable days and the first day of college is a prominent one for most. Like many others, I had a glimpse of college life from my siblings. However, I never expected that my first day at college would be so spectacular! On the morning of July 10, 2019, I took my first step towards my dream of becoming an engineer by joining KCG College of Technology.

When I entered the campus, I felt many emotions – happiness, anxiety, fear and sadness. I was happy because the campus was vast and beautiful, anxious at the thought of coming into a completely new environment, culture and tradition. I was afraid since I had to stay alone in the hostel and sad because I knew that my parents were going to leave me in a while. But all my sadness changed to joy when I reached the Main Block. Three gorgeous ladies, whom I realized were teachers at the college, were smiling at us.

The moment we entered the Main Block, the teachers greeted us warmly. They gave us flowers and chocolates and I still remember the beautiful smile of Ms. Deiva Sundari, who escorted us to the admission office. My parents and I were impressed with the level of hospitality that was displayed by the college. The admission process started the moment we entered the office. My mom and I were told to go to the KMC auditorium for the induction program.

The Principal started by giving us a welcome speech. Once that was done, another lady walked up to the stage and enthralled us with her speech. Unfortunately, I was not able to see her as a pillar blocked my view. As luck would have it, I found out later that she was Ms. Anita, one of our all-time favorites. That day was the start of me becoming her biggest fan. After that, it was time for a speech by the Chief Guest, which touched our hearts. Once the induction program was over, they provided us refreshments.

After that, they asked us to go to our respective classes. Classroom T67 was the class allotted to Aerospace. There, I met another teacher whom I later came to know was Mr. Gladwin. He asked us to give both photocopies and originals of our documents. We were initially asked to submit 2 copies of all the documents but I had brought only 1 copy of each. I expected him to be upset with me; instead, he gave me a broad smile and told me calmly, “It’s OK. Don’t worry. Just go and bring it now.”

Later we went to Chacko Hall to see the hostel. It looked very homely from outside. When we entered, we realized that the homeliness was not limited to just the outside. We met the hostel warden, Ms. Glory, who put me at ease. She took us to room number 24 and on the way, I met the occupant of room number 16, who became my first friend at KCG.

In the afternoon, Ms. Glory came and invited my parents to have lunch in the mess. My parents sat at one table and I sat at another, along with the other first year students. Ms. Glory introduced me to everyone. That was the first time I was having a South Indian meal and it was a wonderful new experience for me. Sadly, I knew that the most heart-breaking period was going to be after lunch.

The cab came to take my parents to the hotel as they had a flight to catch the next day. Ms. Glory assured my parents that I would be taken care of. As they left, my heart was filled with sorrow, but I strengthened my resolve by reminding myself that, “To achieve my goals, I have to bear the pain.”

Days will sprout and fall like leaves, but this particular day will always be etched deep into my heart.

Authored by : Debadatta Dey – Ist year – Department of Aerospace Engineering

To be honest, I think I am well qualified to answer this question. Why do I think so? Because, I have attended many innovative hackathons and various symposiums.

By now, you must be wondering what a hackathon is. It is ‘a design sprint-like event; often, in which computer programmers and others involved in software development, including graphic designers, interface designers, project managers, domain experts, and others collaborate intensively on software projects.’

I had already attended a few similar events just for the fun of it and got to interact with students from other colleges. After all, “No one has ever died, from an over exposure to education”.

One of my most cherished moments was my Head of Department, Dr. J. Frank Vijay calling my class teacher, Ms. Anju to see if my team and I would be interested in participating in a hackathon at Infosys. Ms. Anju asked me to discuss it with my teammates. We unanimously agreed to attend the hackathon, as it would give us more exposure into the subject. The organizer of the hackathon gave us a list of approved topics, and we had to select one.

To our good luck, we had a choice of six topics. After much discussion, we chose ‘Facial Emotion Detection’, which was related to our recently mastered domain – Machine Learning. We conveyed our choice to the Placement Officer, Mr. Pawan. We spent quite some time with him, discussing the hackathon, and asking him questions. We started preparations immediately, as the event was to be held in 3 days’ time, and I was determined to bag a top position. Similarly, I motivated my team too, and we ended up working on our systems, discussing with each other the various ways by which we could arrive at a solution for this problem.

It has been said, “Teachers are your good friends”. I have never experienced it while at school, but at college, this quote proved to be true. I decided to tweak it to, “Professors are your good friends”. This is because, when we were on the verge of giving up, both Dr. Vijay and Ms. Anju gave us their unwavering support. They sacrificed a lot of their time in motivating us and gave us innovative solutions on how to arrive at the best possible solution to the problem. Hours sped by like seconds, and we still had no solution in sight. That night was a miserable one for all of us. We could not sleep, and throughout the night, were busy programming with different logics, algorithms, etc.

Finally, at 4 A.M., my laptop beeped. I scrambled to the screen, and was in for one of the best surprises I have ever had in my life. Yes, we had a solution! I immediately called the team to share the good news. Everyone was thrilled – it was a game changer for us and winning the event was definitely closer now. Later, when we met at the college, I explained the steps I had taken and with it, the way we could arrive at our solution. We did all this just in time as the next day was D-day, and our first step towards our careers.

On the day of the hackathon, we reached the Infosys campus at Mahindra City which was the venue. We had a pleasant surprise when the organizers took us to the cafeteria and asked us to have our breakfast along with them. Later, we were taken to the competition area where we were assigned our seats and a few moments later, the hackathon started.

They started by going through the procedures, rules and requirements of the hackathon. One of the most important points discussed was the elimination of teams during every round of the competition. This consisted of 3 checks during the competition and a final check during the final presentation. As per our chosen topic, each team was asked to present the solution that would solve the problem. We presented our method to the expert panel and they asked follow-up questions including ones based on various scenarios, statutory A/B testing optimization and so on. While this went on, we realized that the main purpose of the hackathon was to make us think in ways that would rival the professionals within the industry and to encourage us to develop the required skills for the industry.

We had our fingers crossed as we awaited the results. We were pleased to hear that we had qualified for the second round of the competition. Unfortunately, it also meant that we had to say goodbye to some of our fellow competitors who were unable to advance to the next round.

The second round was more complex as we were required us to show an actual working model of the Facial Emotion Detector. The time limit allotted to us to develop it was 6 hours. We decided that the best way was to split the tasks and we started to code intently. We supported each other often by prompting different strategies by which we could attempt to produce an innovative product. Time flew by and we realized that we also had to go for lunch during the competition and to save time, decided to go for it in pairs. Final touches were added to the libraries to function optimally and the algorithms were coded with input images to signify different emotions. Finally, we developed a fragmenting solution to the product. The expert panel approached us to check and evaluate our product. When one of the experts saw the model we developed, I noticed a gleam in his eyes and I realized that he was able to visualize a finished product in his mind, based on what he was looking at. At that moment, I knew that the odds of us making it into the final round were great. As they announced the winners of the round, we were ecstatic.

We were now entering the third round and this was a crucial one, as it could be the key to our success. However, there was a twist in this round. All the selected teams were asked to recode their code and add some extensions. The extension that was given to us was that gender had to be detected and music was to be played based on the emotion displayed of the user. This was no easy task but we put our minds together and noted down all the ways by which we could implement it. After a while, we were able to come up with a solution to one of the required extensions. The expert panel’s evaluation was based on our optimized model and its working ability. It was a nerve-wracking moment when they announced that only 5 teams would be selected for the final presentation of the developed product, and we were declared one of them. We were asked to proceed to another room to prepare the presentation.

We were under a great deal of pressure as the struggle had been long and we were so close to victory. One by one, our teams were called, and we had to give an 8-minute presentation to a panel comprising of more than 60 experts. As in the first round, where questions or doubts were posed to us, we had to again answer and clear them immediately. We were told that the results would be announced after dinner.

In a competition of 128 teams, we were placed 4th. This was not bad at all, considering that we had not won any hackathons so far. Words could not express the elation we felt on our success.

Right now, we are working on a variety of projects. During this period of quarantine, I have been hard at work developing an application called ‘Simha’s Classes’, while the others have been involved with a few courses to increase their proficiency. The takeaway experience of being a part of such events are exposure, interaction, will to succeed, industry requirements, behavioral response, and attitude development.

As someone once said, ’The harder you work for something, the greater you will feel when you achieve it’. It’s true, isn’t it?

Authored by : Muzammil Sait A – IInd year – Department of Information Technology

At the onset, I would like to tell you all one thing that I have learned over the days – it does not always matter what you present, but what matters is the way you present it. Looking back at the history of humankind, you will find people who have always been known for their way of addressing their audiences. As Frederick Buechner said, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

You may ask yourself why people fear public speaking. The common issue is a lack of self-confidence. People always have an inferiority complex and end up with the subconscious feeling that they are inferior to someone else. Build your mind to lead an optimistic life and never let pessimism take over your mind. The next issue that people face is criticism. None of us is exempt from criticism. Anyone who wants to taste success will have to taste criticism first.

“Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.” – John F. Kennedy

One man who has always been an electrifying speaker is the former President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. Obama is widely known for his stage presence and his style of presenting himself. Obama’s speech during the Democratic National Convention in 2004 is one of the most renowned speeches in American history. Experts say that the speech played a major role in Obama’s victory in the United Stated presidential election held in 2008.

Among Indian speakers, Shashi Tharoor, a Member of Parliament has won hearts (apart from politics) for his style of addressing the public. Thousands have viewed his speech at the Oxford Union. Shashi Tharoor is widely popular for his vocabulary, but the man once lamented, “I am often trolled for my vocabulary.”

“A good speech should be like a women’s skirt, long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.” – Winston Churchill

The best way of overcoming the fear is to motivate yourself. As far as motivation is concerned, while people go in search of it, I would recommend that you inculcate it within yourselves. A catalyst can only enhance the reaction but cannot initiate it. In the same way, motivation can goad you into do something, but it depends upon you if you want to taste success. Remember, all the great speakers were bad speakers at one point.

I conclude by quoting Mr. Dirish Mohan – “Public speaking is the art of giving power to words – to influence, inspire and transform lives.”

Authored by : Dhanush N – Ist year – Department of Mechanical Engineering