Being an engineer
Sitting in a cubicle of a open-ended research based organization I am getting the feel of how very important Undergraduate level mathematics is, rather for that matter mathematics is. Things that are going to be a visual aids to top notch research discipline like cancer research, genetics, etc. are concepts of linear algebra, basic statistics that we did a semi mug-up of just to save our backs in exams. I won’t start a blame game on teachers and examination system, but I’d rather do a probe on myself & us.
Umpteenth of the times I had our seniors preaching us… these mathematics, physics, chemistry things don’t figure in our life ahead. I just had a hunch they were wrong, and by god they were. Now over the past few days me and my ‘pair’ programmer friend are delving into the topics of our yonder days of B.Tech (CSE) mathematics. And by the good gracious we are seeing how physics, Computer graphics, mathematics all of them served the same knowledge in different cuppa. And my ‘proliferate stalwarts know it all seniors in college’ were too strung up just looking at the cups. Yeah getting a job, earning money, these kind of come easily through engineering disciplines(ultimately they are the goals though…whatever you do) as you always have a very handy opportunity of becoming a ‘moderately well paid’ clerk in an MNC, out in search for blind mules. I did not say ‘higly paid’ because too much availability of engineers has reduced the demands drastically. And also not wanting to sound proud, but with all due politeness… the engineering discipline is being flooded with students without any engineering outlook/desire/motivation. Now the trending general engineering student populace … their mindset is either outcome centric or lacks direction altogether. My point is sitting in an air-conditioned room ‘suited-up’… is that what you want out of the rest of your life?
Think about it this way. A student entering an engineering discipline now is more pushed to it by peer pressure than by actual desire. He gives the JEE/AIEE/CAT/COMET/FERRARI/PORSHE/ROCKET and whatever exams are available just because his friends are giving it. Ranks don’t matter anymore … so anybody’s with several lakhs to spare gets in. Most study Electronics or computer sciences… as either these are the streams that promise jobs or maybe they don’t have any idea of what other streams are about, besides the all time running gag… “You dont need to study in ECE/CSE”. Idiots who said that should be flogged first. They ruined their life… and they are ruining the future of several batches further down the line.
Lot of people kind of preach some cooldom about the streams, they fight about who is better etc. My question is does that matter? Your PC wont look like one if the metullargists did not find the proper alloys for the cabinets and wires, chemists did not find the proper chemical composition for the plastics and glasses, Mechanical engineers did not build the machines for mill production, electronics people did not design the microchips, electrical people did not improve the miniaturized the power-plants, and Computer science engineers did not breathe life in them so that it may interface with you. You out of your good judgement tell me, can you ignore anyone? I an not saying Engineering is not about sporting a goatee, strumming the guitar, wearing cool tee’s, or being disobedient rebels.. it is!! But be that in terms of ideas, innovation and a focus that, what I am doing does that serve the common man any good? Being a bespectacled, toothed book worm is not the ideal engineer, it is him who applies his learning in his practicality to solve the real problems and has fun doing so!
Don’t we need to mug up for the examinations? Of course we do. How else will we pass? But we do need to absorb and learn the concepts when we are not mugging, the take away is how to do it, not specifically what I am up to right now! Depend on notes to pass the exams but don’t loose the touch of the books… that habit is hard earned, once gone needs a lot of hard work to get back! Most of all learn mathematics properly, don’t for god’s sake neglect it. Those matrices, foolish functions, limits etc. they look like futile exercises but ultimately they matter.
At the current state of development engineering is more or less a multi-disciplinary exercise. Being a computer science engineer I can say that from the little looking glass that I earned, I can see working opportunities in every field. I think being an engineer or whatsoever we should remember that we always are on an edge where we can think about making the life of the common man better or just better our own life. I can’t ask a person, sacrifice your own life for the general mankind, it’s totally one’s personal choice. However it’d be worthwhile exercise to remember that the greatest of scientists had been engineers, and if you are an engineer– even in your most carefree merry making, you are responsible for the betterment of the humankind… let that idea water in a corner of your mind. Oh yes, don’t neglect your mathematics at any cost!
P.S: With direct involvement of a few people I have personally known during my Btech (CSE 2007-11), like: Abhishek ‘Robotics’ Ghosh, Debashish ‘web’ Biswas, Abhishek ‘Dari’ Bhattacharya, Subha ‘6kka MBA’ Guhathakurta, Sudip ‘perfectionist natok’ Basu, Chiradeep ‘Jali Linux’ Biswas … I have seen first hand the great spirit of engineering minds. All the engineering decision altercations, ego clashes, network configuration challenges, get that failed thing working, Hack Chiradeep’s megacity firefox-only login( which ultimately I cracked by sneaking off an Xterm from local file:///usr/bin to current home-directory, making it executable), The wave of Open Source philosophy rushing all over us for fours years. Thank you people. For more than my self.. I learnt from you people each day how to become an engineer. I miss all those ego clashes over … simple ideas!
I miss being called .. ‘Linux’ Bipul (any way seeing our Sys-admin work on the system today, I am just running low on confidence 😦 ). Thank you boys… for being there! IIT -K(chiradeep), TCS( dari, 6kka, natok, debashish), AMTEL (ghosh)… wherever you are, you are going to do great!