Through the Goggles of a Graduate: Srikar Sandilya

From working over 12 hours a day prior to IIT, life at IIT was definitely a good sabbatical for this postgraduate student in construction management from the civil engineering department. His friends claim that he is the go-to-guy when it comes to any matters related to careers. By a fortunate stroke of serendipity, he was able to graduate with his sister, a DD student in the Mechanical Engineering department, this year. Srikar has spent a considerable amount of his time working at the grass-root level on social issues. In this Through The Goggles of a Graduate article, he looks back at some of his most meaningful memories from insti.

Writing an article for T5E and imparting ‘gyaan’ on a busy afternoon after graduation is something that was never on my ‘bucket list’. It is one of the many reminders urging me to move on. But nonetheless, the last two years have been nothing less than a roller coaster ride with absolutely no regrets. Besides academics, almost everything under the roof (other than the Inter-IITs: something for which you should be destined!) has been tried. The ostensible hoot that the post-graduates are more often than not indulged only in academics, is a debatable matter. I would, even today, contest the same. I would like to share a few of the fascinating moments that I owe to IITM and have experienced during my stay here. Some of you may be passionate about such things and may correlate to some of the following experiences.

Srikar
Srikar

As an IITian

The one with the civil department junta
The one with the civil department junta

First things first. Almost every student in India dreams of studying in an IIT. After my two years in insti, I am sure that it’s a pit stop to almost everything. Friends, faculty, learning, unlearning, campus and food is, I guess, what sums up these two unforgettable years. Late night birthday celebrations, food cravings and subsequently ending up eating at Ramu and Guru, movies at Phoenix and the unlimited broadband is what made my stay even more momentous. I guess ours was the largest batch of post-graduate students in the college. We had our own farewell parties, fresher’s eves and were the ones to create the most noise everywhere. We had our own badminton and cricket tournaments every year. We had a dedicated two-week window where we would cram all these activities. We printed jerseys, made schedules and had faculty play with too. Something short of our own IPL! After working in the industry for two years, life at IIT was definitely serene, fun filled and a remarkable learning experience.

The cricket team
The cricket team

EWB (Engineers without Border), IIT Madras Chapter

“Our team successfully implemented a solar electrification project in a girl’s high school in Chennai. Period!”

Where does one get to say that?

Helping school children get a better source of power so that they don’t suffer in summer says it all. Our Solar Electrification project at the Govt. Girls’ High school in Ashok Nagar, Chennai was successfully completed and inaugurated on 29 July this year. It is DC powered and has a capacity of 1.5 kW. We worked on this in collaboration with Cygni, a company incubated by IIT Madras. (This project was covered widely in the media and you can read more about it here, here  and here and the link to a video can be found here)

Teaming up and coordinating with the IAR office, insti alumni, corporates and at the same time understanding and implementing the technology was what made the project challenging. Our team of undergrads and postgrads at EWB materialised this. For someone who has never been to a village before, working directly on various projects which have the potential to cause a significant social impact, and meeting social entrepreneurs was what made this journey meaningful. Apart from this project, I was also closely associated with a sanitation project which involved the construction of dignified toilets in the outskirts of the city.

The journey at EWB started during my first year. There are many decorated student bodies in insti, but only a handful are professional and further, only a very few that actually strike the social nerve, be it in the form of knowledge you amass or the difference they make with what they do. EWB is one such organization whose student chapter was founded by students of our college. It encourages engineers to actually solve the problems faced by our society. My experience in managing engineering projects was an impetus for me to join this body to help execute such projects. And I must say, the learning you get when you work with professionals, mentors, peers and faculty is a whole new experience in itself. It makes you unlearn (in my case) a few stereotypes and encourages you to look at new perspectives to solve a problem.

Srikar: Third from the right
Srikar: Third from the right

Smart City Challenge

As teams representing insti, we successfully presented and won awards for a competition conducted by University of California, Berkeley towards the smart city challenge in Vizag. Me along with Saurabh contributed to the education domain while Pappu Jayadev, Avinash Arya, Sindhu Sreedhara and about 10 others contributed in various other areas. Education and energy was the domains where we won laurels and where I had the opportunity to present my idea on improving the quality of education across schools in Vizag. Briefly, our idea involved improving the quality of education across schools, using teachers over technology as the solution. I proposed a collaborative learning platform for teachers to learn and unlearn their teaching approaches in order to achieve a more application oriented pedagogy.  

The entire experience, right from representing IIT, travelling to Vizag, meeting experts from across the industry, academia (including professors from UCB) and government to finally achieving the award was a journey worth remembering. Our director recognized our team’s achievement and felicitated us on the Institute Day. The fact that officials from UCB wholeheartedly appreciated the talent from insti, proclaims that we (IIT Madras) indeed are one of the best in the country.

World Construction Symposium at Colombo

Visiting our neighbour nation and presenting my work at the World Construction Symposium at Colombo was a unique experience. The island country had a lot to offer through its academia besides its obvious scenic beauty. Winning the best presentation award at the symposium gala awards was a cherry on the cake.

The one at the symposium
The one at the symposium

I have shared above a few of the many memorable experiences which punctuated my stay in insti. Besides these, the immense fun we had celebrating birthdays, the weekend outings and time spent with our classmates is something I am sure will never recur. Had it not been for IITM, these momentous occasions along with writing this article for T5E would always have stayed on the ‘bucket list’.

And this, my friends, is not a cliché but straight from the heart!

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