Archive for the ‘BITS Pilani’ Category

My BITSAA Journey… (so far)

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

I joined the first batch at the spanking newly christened BITS Pilani Goa Campus. Just as the many bright-eyed students who enter the hallowed halls of BITS Pilani,  we the 2004 batch students (the first in a sister campus in India) perhaps had some additional apprehensions, worries. Among them there was a burning desire to be accepted as, feel like, be treated and get the same experience as and finally be accepted into the vast pantheon of BITS Alumni. BITS did that spectacularly - the same coursework, many of the same legendary Professors who moved to spanking new campus, sometimes setting the same exams, and encouraging similar extra-curricular activities. As students, we did other things - contributing to Sandpaper, enthusiastically adopting programs initiated by alumni like BITSEmbryo. Tens of alumni who spoke to us through BITSEmbryo welcomed their fellow BITSian’s in the campuses.  Then BITSAA CEO Ashish Garg (someone of our generation), visited the campus, was given a rousing welcome (about 500 students attended a pack Lecture Theatre). His rousing speech set aside any remaining aspersions permanently etching in our minds - BITSAA (like BITS Pilani) was one brand - we are brothers-in-arms. As the Goa campus evolved, we were already mimicking structures in Pilani with a Goa twist in some - org structure for campus events to Centre for Software Development. BITSAA Bangalore was doing wonderful things - hosting our then Director Prof. Goel for a series of talks with alumni. Then came the Practice School Program where some of us made the trek to Silicon Valley or the East Coast as Interns and came back to tell us wonderful stories about the life “out there” as a BITS Pilani graduate awaiting us. BITS Alumni like Sunil Nanda (Nvidia) came by to the Goa Campus in the very first year to not only hire but educate students in “Whats out there?” It might not be unfair to say that most of the companies who came in to hire from the Goa Campus in its very first year were either headed by or had BITSians in influential positions.

 

To most of us, BITSAA was this massive monolith (behemoth?) - an army of “BITSians” organized in many chapters out there helping each other and helping the cause of BITS. BITSConnect had just happened (2003-2004). We had seen the “Old Boys” come together to wire up the BITS Campuses not too long ago. BITS alumni could make magic happen. Stalwarts like Jayan Ramankutty, Chandra Bhople and others flew down regularly to address students, encourage budding entrepreneurs, opening doors. I was fortunate to come to the Silicon Valley as a Practice School student. Among other things, I had the opportunity to see BITSAA Silicon Valley Chapter in full force. The ACYUT Robotics Team from BITS Pilani had just made an appeal to alumni for support in building India’s first humanoid. I saw first-hand Raju and Viggy and many others marshall fellow alumni - raising record sums in record time. Not only that, under their leadership alumni drove down to the event to cheer BITS Pilani at the Robogames. Such a wonderful gesture! Team ACYUT was invited to and given rousing receptions in several Silicon Valley companies, TiE hosted an event, so did BITSAA. I saw the level of attachment and commitment alumni had in promoting young BITSians. Wow! these guys are EXACTLY who I imagined they were.

 

Next, I had a unique back room view into BITSAA International’s rebirth - working directly with then CEO Ashish Garg. I helped in putting BITSAA International’s paperwork in order & realized how all the “different BITSAA’s” I adored were working hard but not talking to each other. I also attended the first couple of Board of Trustees meetings minuting discussions - understanding the thinking at the highest levels of BITSAA’s leadership (especially the challenges they faced). In hindsight, there were many problems - a global alumni directory did not exist, a consistent annual fundraiser had never happened, finances and paperwork were not consistently maintained. Lots of alumni were interested in contributing but there was no structure, no inclusive organization which managed everything. Only the most passionate among alumni could sustain projects. When their enthu died, so did BITSAA. That is what SP Kothari, Ashish Garg and the then Board of Trustees were fighting and ended up creating a  ”BITSAA Leaders Group” & the BITSAA Leadership Program. BITSAA was now going to operate as a Corporate entity with a Board of Trustees, an empowered Executive Team and a pseudo-corporate hierarchy. For an all-volunteer group, I think it was a bold move an experiment whose time had come.

 

In 2008, as a newly christened BITS graduate I came to Texas for Grad school. Was disappointed that there was no Chapter in the area. Efforts were underway to recreate one. I ended up joining BITSAA’s new Technology Team - its newly assigned mandate: “Create BITSAA’s first global alumni directory”. I had the opportunity to work with Sarath Kolla, then CTO. I learnt from him about his more than 5 year long commitment as the CTO. It was all finally coming to fruition - a comprehensive all-in-one managed website, alumni directory, fundraising portal, e-store, career center, news portal, newsletter, bulk-mailing system etc. etc. Sarath was an amazing mentor not only for technical matters but for “How to be a leader” and “Get stuff done”. In addition to spending time on numerous technology/backend matters, application development etc., I was also managing the agenda and minutes for Sunday calls for the next two years. This gave me a unique vantage point to see, learn from and be inspired by the many BITSians who joined these calls on a dutiful, diligent basis - reported on the progress of their programs, initiatives - investigated failures, celebrated success together. This was a different somewhat unique experience but extremely rewarding to be a part of. I was a regular. There were so many programs that took off between 2008-2010: LPBP, Campus Relations, CEL, Sandpaper, two fundraising drives driven globally, BITS2Marathon, many new scholarships, travel grants for students and faculty and more. For the first time, BITS alumni were creating endowments which would last for decades. Alumni were donating money to help fallen BITSians (Seema Sood, Life for Manish). It was exhilarating!

 

Alas, all good things come to an end. One fine weekend, I got a call from the “Boss” (Ashish) saying he was hanging his boots and he was on the lookout for a successor. I was sad, tried to make him change his mind but he was “done”. Quite dutifully, I rattled off my recommendations (there were about a hundred people in the team then, 20-25 very active). Very quickly I realized that the “Boss” was drafting me in as his replacement!

 

Fast forward 2010, BITSAA had at its helm a young (somewhat untested) yet energetic executive team. The founding fathers had stepped down and it was up to gen-next to do it right. The first thing on our to do list was charting a way forward for the first BITSAA Global Meet. It was a great idea. We had to pull it through or drop it entirely. Every alumnus we spoke to encouraged us, had his own ideas about it. I would like to singularly congratulate Abhisheak for doggedly pursuing the BGM dream at this very early stage. After a lot of meetings, conference calls with Chapters & BITS Leadership, we finally had everything sorted out. CS Goel, the dynamic leader of BITSAA’s oldest chapter - “BITSAA Delhi” had stepped up to the plate with his team. A marriage made in heaven - youth (the young BITSAA Intl volunteers) and experienced (the Delhi team have been doing this for the community for 30+ years). BITSAA could have its first BGM early 2011. Four years of planning was going to be put to the test. The biggest value BGM brought to the community was that it brought us together. Although it was a 3 day event, the 6+ month planning brought together chapter leaders, batch leaders, distinguished BITSians, ethued BITSians under one roof. We BITSians relish a challenge - and thats what we did. Chapters from Silicon Valley to Dubai to Australia - long lasting ones in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Singapore put their heads together - conducted parallel events informing BITSians of the effort, encouraging everyone to join in the festivities. Long dormant chapters like Houston, Boston, Seattle, UK, Singapore, Arizona sprung to life. The BITS Leadership saw this as an excellent opportunity to solicit alumni support in the “Parivartan” they had been mulling for some time. Win-win-win for everyone. Overall, BGM2011 benefited from a concocted recipe for success on all fronts.

 

What’s BITSAA all about? Among other things, it’s an avenue for enthu’ed BITSians to put our minds together, bring our expertise, resources and talents together, contemplate, devise and deliver game-chaning projects for the alma-mater. That’s exactly what happened at BGM (as expected I may add!). Bringing the BITS campuses together with state-of-the-art video conferencing technology had long been identified as the need of the hour by the BITSEmbryo team led by Shashikant Khandelwal(theFIND) and Prof. Rahul Banerjee (BITS) (scroll up!). Potential impact and reach of such frameworks had already been demonstrated over several years through Project Embryo. The bottlenecks had been identified - end delivery of video conferencing needs to be improved. BITS had already made made strides in this regard under the leadership of the Chancellor KM Birla & Kris Ramachandran. Bandwidth had been purchased (a long standing bottleneck out of the way). Classrooms need to be equipped to handle state of the art video conferencing infrastructure. If potential recruiters were to come into the campuses to hire, they need to be guaranteed unparalleled quality of service from the video-conferencing solution. If the leadership of the campuses wanted to have a virtual meeting to sort out administrative matters they need to use “No excuses” technology that “simply works”. If a distinguished visitor at one campus is making a speech to 2000 students in an auditorium, how can it be reliably webcast to the other campuses? How can a quality of service be guaranteed. When there is a will, there is a way. A volunteer army coalesced under the leadership of Prem Jain, the flag-bearer and alumni leader for projects like these. BITSConnect2.0 was born from BGM1.0. A comprehensive study of available technologies and fit for the alma-mater was started - request for quotes sent to the leading providers, detailed discussions held with BITS leadership -Prof. Rahul Banerjee playing a stellar role. After the technology fit was approved, price negotiations began. The BITS Leadership appeared very enthusiastic - “We wanted this years ago! This can bring a sea-change in the BITS system”. Mission accomplished. Let the fundraising begin..

 

BITSAA has been an integral part of my life for the past 5 years – I began as a volunteer in Project Embryo, worked in various roles within Technology Team, Operations/HR in an emerging BITSAA Organization. Over the past two years, I have had a chance to actively work with legends (like SP, Raju, Prem, Kris, Viggy, CS, Brij, Ashish, Anupendra, Sudeep, Sarath) who I think have become as close as family to me. It has been a lot of hard work and hours put in - lots of joy and yes occasional frustrations - my payback to BITS Pilani which has been the foundation for my life’s journey. Through my BITSAA experience, I have learnt professionally and personally. I would like to thank everyone who have come on this journey with me and given me the opportunity and honor to serve BITSAA. I have met some incredible BITSians along the way (like Arun Aravind, Abhisheak, Rohit, Vivek Iyer, Shashikant, SatP, VJ) who have had me redefine what “BITS Passion” really means - some of them have been going on upwards of a decade. I have had an extra intense last two years as BITSAA’s CEO. With a lot of BITSAA firsts and some missed opportunities - perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime experience at my age! I would like to thank all Board Members and SP, Raju, Ashish in particular for reposing faith in me and bequeathing their legacy - BITSAA Leaders. I hope I have done you all proud.

 

BITSAA, I feel today is at the at cusps of its next evolution under the dynamic leadership of its beloved new Chairman Raju Reddy and the now Global Board of Trustees. Flagship projects which they have nurtured beginning BGM2011 prep like BITSConnect2.0, BITS Spark and the umbrella “Bridges to the Future Campaign” need to be taken into high-gear, fulfilled and celebrated with full gusto. A new BGM 2014 Org Team needs to be put together. A more capable and energetic team who can do more justice to them has taken over - the dynamic Rohit Koul (’02) as the new CEO, the equally vociferous and committed Vijay Sharma (’06) as the new COO. “Maximizing the potential of BITSians and BITS Pilani” has begun with new visions, new beginnings, fresh minds and a renewed sense of purpose and direction.

 

BITSAA, in the next couple of years, in my opinion will need to focus on “alumni enrichment” - efforts for career improvement (online portal or in-person career fairs), promoting young entrepreneurs (BITS SPARKS) will make the network more relevant to the alumni. The more we get together for fellowship, the more we will devise projects benefitting our alma-mater. This is what most of the successful long-lasting chapters have been doing - Indore, Jaipur, Delhi, Australia, SVC. Getting together only when it is time to give is not a sustainable approach. BITSAA International in recent years, has focussed much on the mechanics - running things (scholarships, awards, programs etc). With the newly established  Office of Alumni Affairs at BITS taking full shape, BITSAA should transfer those obligations to BITS. That will free up our volunteer hours to promote existing programs - virtually or through chapter events. We can then figure out more says to enhance our bond as alumni, think of and execute programs benefitting alumni (job fairs, entrepreneurship, career growth, professional improvement etc). We can also find ways to collaborate and deliver on projects involving alumni worldwide. Chapter events which are held could be promoted to wider audiences - in person or virtually. We will be able to find ways to bring BITSians who are “out of the network” back into the fold. Alumni through BITSAA could potentially support BITS in other ways it has identified for us (outside of fundraising) - “identifying and hiring quality faculty”, “hiring graduate BITSians from the undergraduate and post-graduate programs”. “establishing new Practice School stations”, “setting up centers for excellence, Chair Professorships,” “leveraging their positions of influence in bringing to BITS” already available industry and government funding for research and teaching. The opportunities are endless. BITS resolve is strong. BITSians are the most passionate when it comes to BITS. The recipe, I feel is just about right. We just need to get going.

 

Go BITS.

BITS V/s IITs ?? Is it valid ??

Friday, July 20th, 2007
cartman_eric wrote:
2 campuses are more than enough
even today only the orig 5 IIT’s are respected..
sorry to say sir.. bits goa still does not command the same respect as pilani.
they should wait till goa becomes as established as pilani..
b4 even moving to hyderabad !!
sorry if this offends any1.. my personal opinion !

I seem to agree here. Except that it is not the time to draw conclusions. I do not even consider that we should demand/command respect right from now.

But mind you, you have not seen the breakneck speed at which work is done here. We might rival BITS Pilani in speed of development. What has taken the father 50 odd years, the child has stood upto it in just 3 years. I have been part of this exercise myself and I can vouch for it.

And you are right, the fast proliferation of campuses can be detrimental. However, any new BITS campus in the near term would probably be a Mgmt school as mentioned by Birlaji in one of his speeches.

We are minuscle beings in such a decision. So, it is better we keep our opinions to ourselves in this matter !!

BITS Pilani V/s BITS Pilani Goa. Is it logical

Friday, July 20th, 2007
bussa wrote:
i have been observing this community for last 1month and i think this community has created lot of bad comparisions in comparing branches at both campusesas this community is run by bitsgians they obiviously prefer bits g over bits p
and abt bit goa compsci i think it shd be give a priority far below mech infosys at pilani {there are no ibm labs or oyster labs or cisco at bits goa }
last time there were
to all my juniors also contact bitsians(pilani students) before making any decision from now because they know more abt bits pilani than bitsgians
actually bitsgians ask pilani students about ps options in 4th year

Arey baba - there is nothing like that. This forum is bits360 and not bitsg360 !! Of the many interpretations that abhimanyu and abhinav have in mind for bits360 one of them is to provide a 360 view of everything. Not a lopsided or a biased one.

I would disagree with you over the lab issue though. Although you might say - I have this, I have that - how much have you been able to make use out of it. We have new labs coming in here too but what I feel is that there is a general lack of interest among students to participate. As part of EEE Assoc, when we try and motivate people to come in a join/share/participate in projects - hardly few turn up. Same is the case for all other bodies. Is it just a diamond which you would store in a locker or wear it around. And also BITSPG is a new campus. We havent even passed out. But BITSPG is not a new college. It has the illustrious history of BITSP behind it. As BITSAAG Secretary, I have faced it first hand. The alum and seniors are so helping, accomodative and conscious of our rise. There have been over 15 alumni visits to our campus. Now you try and explain to me why they come here - do the BITSP Alum have anything to do with Goa Campus - but still they come. What does it signify - that we are as much a part of the BITS Family as anyone else. Of course, in Pilani Campus you wud have numerous advantages which you can not imagine here - that includes the labs. But is that all ??

Let us leave the comparision issue at bay. There are 7 IIT’s - is there any conflict like this !! (There might be… but definitely not publicy !! ) It is a matter of pride saying - I’m an IITian - we should all have a similar pride in saying - I’m a BITSian (rather a BITSPian !!)

The other day Shrikant (Presi, BPGC) and me were having a discussion on the same thing. Both of us had big plans, big ideas but he was equally discouraged at people not coming in and standing up for themselves - in both academics and exrtra-curriculars. However hard we try and motivate, it is always the same bunch of 100 people who came in to be part of the organising committee for anything. At the end of it, we were all disgusted. But then the event did happen. I am sure the leaders in Pilani feel the same thing though. What might differ is the degree.

Therefore we must use all our resources to motivate people into participating and “standing up” for themselves. It is not only work which they are doing for themselves, rather it is for the advancement of what I would like to call “Brand BITS”

@Bussa - u wud be surprised to know the amount of contribution the mere setup of BITS has had in the academic environment in Goa. There were teachers from Goa who were trained, mentorship and training sessions held for the students of Goa (12th standard) and close working with the Government of Goa. I have had the pleasure of meeting the Chief Secretary of Goa when he invited us over to contribute to e-governance in Goa. Now that is something that is catching up and is sure to become a big thing in future if things go the right away. Now don’t you think we have stood up to the BITS Challenge. Haven’t we done BITS Pilani proud. Wouldn’t BITS Pilani (the University) be proud of its students achievements whereever they are. Did any of this work have anything to do with what infrastructure is there on campus. I would say -yes it did - the student infrastructure.

I would salute the BITS entrance system and its selectivity. There was a recent article in the Hindu commending BITS Pilani for its selectivity which stood something around 2.5% higher than that of an IIT (some 4 odd percent I think) The minute you put this exclusive bunch of talented and gifted individuals under one roof - you have all the ingredients for success and achievement.

As for asking help for PS allotment - obviously we would ask you !! We would ask seniors/alum whenever and wherever possible. When I joined Goa Campus, I asked R K Patnaik, Ex Dean - he would not have known anything about Goa Campus - he had retired by then - but one thing he convinced me was - BITS is not a joke - it is a matter of pride to be part of such a family..

I hope you would agree with me on that.
_________________
Aalap Tripathy
4th Yr BE Hons EEE,
BITS Pilani Goa Campus
aalap@bits-goa.ac.in

BITS360.com post

Friday, July 20th, 2007

It was the biggest dream of Shubham Malhotra, 2nd Yr to have a common forum where we could assist aspiring BITSians in making their decisions. Again my hearty congratulations to Abhinav & Abhimanyu for taking that dream forward and reaching out.
I guess everyone reading this had already gone through bits360.com This shows what you can achieve if you dare to do so. I dont like people comparing or analysing based on statistics while making a decision. I believe it is not worth it. At the end of it all, it is basically “You” & “Your Ambition” that count. The institution and its support facilities are only secondary.
Now I would rather suggest some things which come to my mind which you as an aspiring BITSian can do if you come to Goa Campus
1st year you learn the system
2nd year you live with it and its nuances
3rd year you work to change the system
4th Year/5th Year you are too tired of it and you work towards improving yourself

1. Well study - thats what you come to do right. Be a bookworm and GHOT (Generate Heat on Table ) ok perfect.
2. You are like me who wants to be part of a team and do a big task collectively. Join the huge number of clubs and associations that are here.
3. You are a techie like Roshan (dont tell me you havent heard of him yet. arey bhai logon koi bata do inko - the proudest creation of BITS Goa 2004) - you do wacky technical stuff. Projects and things. Now you will say - “Faculty nahin hain” who says ?? Project tumhe karna hai ya unhe. “Items nahin hain” - Arey Baba you are doing the project na. No one has done it before so you have to drop sweat atleast. It is not true that either of the above statements are in any way true. I am just saying them cause you might feel so at first glance.
4. Jhakas campus hai. Just live withthe tide. Exams do. Birthday parties mein jao, logon ki dhulai karo. Audience mein baitho. This is not advisable. But if you like it, you will have loads of people for company !!! Smile
5. Be a part of various initiatives already taken up in campus with an aim of leading it once your time comes - Examples are Abhigyaan, Waves, Quark Organisation Committee, All Discipline Associations, So Many Clubs (even I havent figured out Sad ), you have Project Embryo gaining steam, you have Centre for Software Development, work going on Biosensors, Nanotech. Kya kya hota rehta hai yahan !!
Ok final thing thats something even my dad tells me today which I try my best to follow. Keeping your eyes and ears open. Nahin to bahut kuch haath se fishal jayega.
6. Games, Sports, SAC mein evenings, Monginis mein gupshup, Nescafe mein maggi and what not !!!

I can probably echo sentiments here. Once you come here, what you get is the privelege of being among the best of India - best in every possible field. You will be among National Sports Champions, Academic Olympians, Toppers, Brainos, Techies. What will distinguish us all is the intensity of our ambition.

So best of luck guys & gals, hope to meet you at B Wing on 1st August

Sincerely,
Aalap

PS - Yahan ragging nahin hogi (Kyon bhai log, nahin hogi na !!! : ) OB NOT. sirf BITSIAN intro)
Kripya karke mujhe cutoff mat poochna koi. I dont know. I didnnt give BITSAT. I was a board topper. And nor would I be able to know this years anyways !!
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Acha Thodi si intro de hi deta hoon.
I am Aalap Tripathy, now a student of 4th Year, BE Hons, Electrical & Electronics Engineering (EEE), BITS Pilani Goa Campus
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_________________
Aalap Tripathy
4th Yr BE Hons EEE,
BITS Pilani Goa Campus
aalap@bits-goa.ac.in