A Year That Was

A Freshie's Perspective

Just as Arthur C Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”; my experience in my freshman year at IIT Bombay has probably been the best manifestation of these words. My tryst with “tech” began with the inspiring STAB orientation, where we the freshie “junta” were introduced to the myriad of innovative technological activities, that have become an inseparable part of the IITB culture. From hobby clubs and informal contests to tech teams that participate in international competitions, the sheer range of the tech activities was breathtaking in the eyes of a freshman, like myself. For the first time, I realized how fortunate I was to have reached here – I couldn’t wait to learn all this exciting stuff.

Electronics club is probably one of the most active tech clubs in the insti, with a number of events lined up throughout the year. The year started with the customary XLR8, an event organized in co-operation with Robotics club, with the two-fold purpose of sowing the seed of tech “enthu” in the freshies and providing the seniors a chance to mentor them on the way of designing a fully functional remote- controlled car. More than 300 freshmen lined up to maneuver their bots through the challenging track.

Then came Electrovaganza, an electronics hackathon, in which the participants ended up making extremely useful and innovative electronic gadgets; followed by a workshop on Arduino. A lot of extremely motivated freshmen turned up for both of these events, and they went back with loads of invaluable knowledge.

With the onset of the spring semester, it was time for Electronics club’s flagship event – the Line Follower competition. The participants were supposed to make a fully autonomous robot that would be capable of following a white line marked on a black surface. The club organized a workshop on AVR in the weekend preceding the competition, in which the freshies got to know about the internal working of an Atmel ATmega AVR chip in considerable detail. Finally, all the excitement and enthusiasm culminated in an extremely successful event, which saw the development and use of extremely intelligent design strategies and smart algorithms, leading to some really awesome line follower bots.

Having learnt tons of extremely cool tech stuff from our seniors throughout the year, now it was time for us to put on our thinking caps and come up with interesting project ideas to work on for “What the Hack?”, the last hackathon of the session. A few really stimulating ideas, like self-filling water tank, automatic door locking mechanism etc. were chosen from amongst the countless ones that’d been proposed. What followed next was an immensely engrossing evening of electronics, with seven different teams working on independent projects, some of which were completed successfully. Some of us tried our hands at making a noise cancelling system for a pair of headphones using an analog circuit, that used the principle of destructive interference to cancel out the noise. Though we failed spectacularly (:P), it was a one-of-a-kind learning experience for us.

Besides these, the entire year was dotted with loads of other events of various kinds – informal talks, workshops, and “How Things Work” sessions, to name a few – that contributed immensely to laying the foundations for a strong and self-sufficient tech community in the insti. Thus my first year of association with the Electronics club rolled to an end, with the hope that the next few years will have a richer treasure trove of knowledge in store. In the eyes of the erstwhile freshie, the veil of “magic”, as Arthur Clarke termed it, has probably shifted a little off the face of technology.

Arkya Chatterjee