Archive for the ‘Institute’ Category
I had the good fortune to be one of the coordinators from our Department for the Institute Open House held on the 18th of April. We had plenty of crowd in our Materials Science lab — to take a look at our crystal structure and defect models, to look at the creep experiment, to see the shape memory alloy, and of course, to see liquid nitrogen and ductile to brittle transition. One of the highlights from the Department is the demonstrations/exhibitions of the products developed by our design students; many of these products have made it to the newspapers too.
Here are the links to the news stories:
Here are a couple of photographs of Chandrabhan Prajapati’s “no-power refrigerator” which was a real hit!
Finally, one of our grad students. Mohd Zaheer Khan Yusufzai’s poster on friction stir welding of mild steels also got an award (and, one of the first prizes) from the alumni.
It was great fun getting to know many of our students and their work, as well as interacting with students from outside and explaining them some of the things that we have been doing!
Update: A couple of photographs — of the manual farming machine of Aniruddh and Karan. In his mail to me Karan explains:
In hills, step farming is done and the main problem is that the tractors cannot be taken there for various agricultural purposes like ploughing, leveling, seeding etc. Humans can easily access the hills for this purpose and hence manual power can be utilized to make a small vehicle which can do these tasks altogether. The tasks performed by the vehicle are as follows: 1. Ploughing 2. Seeding 3. Leveling 4. Spraying 5. Storage while working The advantages of the multi-tasking vehicle are: 1. It can be easily taken anywhere into the hills for agricultural purposes. 2. It requires manual power, which is available in plenty. 3. There is no consumption of fuel.
As I noted in my last column, the Indian Institute of Science has consistently maintained high academic standards since its inception. It has been a model and inspiration for later initiatives in scientific research and teaching, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology. But if one is to make a criticism of this outstanding institution, it would be that its pursuit of knowledge has not been holistic enough. It has done excellent work in all branches of science and technology. At the same time, it has neglected the study of the social sciences and the humanities. In this respect it has been unlike its Western counterparts, such as Stanford University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example. These institutions are also known for their contributions to scientific and technical research, yet they have also had high-quality departments of economics, political science, anthropology, and history.
… To establish and make active a proper centre of humanistic studies would, in this centenary year, be the Indian Institute of Science’s most appropriate gift to itself.
By the way, while I wrote about Geddes’ connections to Raja Rao and Nivedita, I did not know that he had some suggestions for IISc also — which should be added to the list of Geddes’ gifts to us — albeit one that we failed to accept!
… in the 1980s, I became the third generation of my family to be formally associated with the Indian Institute of Science. I had begun work on forest history in collaboration with the ecologist Madhav Gadgil, and had the honour of serving briefly on the faculty of the Institute’s newly established Centre for Ecological Sciences. In a year teaching at the I.I.Sc, I grew to admire the culture of disinterested scholarship that is the hallmark of the place. In two decades of further interaction, the admiration has only deepened.
A sentiment that I agree with — the longer you associate with the Institute, the more you appreciate the place — which, I guess, is the best thing you can say about a place!
A crucial Global Positioning System (GPS) antenna in Bangalore has been stolen — apparently for its scrap value — knocking India out of an international network of ‘core’ stations that provides data to geoscientists around the globe.
The station at the Indian Institute of Science was linked to the International Global Navigation Satellite Systems Service, based in Pasadena, California.
The news item goes on to mention that it will take an year to erect another at the same spot and make it operational; Ouch!
At the Institute, Department of Metallurgy is one of the first to start the culture of a research symposium organised by students, for students. The sympo, as it is affectionately called is an annual (two day) affair. Among other things, it helps us hone our presentation skills and interact and learn about our colleagues in the Department.
This year’s sympo, which is the 19th in the series, came to an end just now. I attended nearly 60% of the talks. The talks were of uniformly high quality; the speakers rarely ever overshot the time; the chairmen steered the sessions smoothly; the food, coffee and tea was arranged (and arrived) at the right moments in right quantities; the lights went off and on and the correct instant, while the computer worked pucca. Now, if you think I am exaggerating, you do not know the organising skills of the students of the Department.
While all the talks were certainly above ordinary (both in terms of the quality of the material and its presentation), I noticed that a few small changes in some of the presentations would have improved their quality still more. I noted them down in my abstract booklet — more as a note to myself, for future reference. I am putting them up here in this post since
(1) It could help as a reference to me as well as others; and,
(2) There might be some suggestions/comments from the readers of the blog which could be of use (again to me, and others).
So here we go! Oh! before that, a few disclaimers:
(1) These are not the ultimate rules on Presentation: HOW TO; if so, I would be giving wonderful presentations everytime I go up on the podium. Rather these are the guidelines. Like in all arts, in giving presentations too, you learn the rules, and then you bend some of them just to see how much of it you can get away with, and/or break them creatively. So, next time if you see me violating one of my own tips here, I am just being creative
(2) Though I use the Sympo as an excuse to write this post and publish it here, none of what I say here is with reference to any particular person/presentation; none of what I say here is a criticism or evaluation of the presentations; it is more like my response to some of the presentations.
(3) Thank you Karthik for suggestion 10.
So, here we go.
(1) It is a good idea not to write more than a few sentences in a slide; if possible, the key idea or words should be spelt while the details should be supplied by you during the talk. Writing all that you are going to say on the slide and reading it off the screen is a strict no-no.
(2) The sentence “Lots of interesting probelms are to be solved here” is not a good idea; the correct way is to show/explain the problems and indicate how they are yet to be solved or solved satisfactorily.
(3) Saying “this is not economical” is not a good idea; give an order of magnitude calculation of the cost with the relevant statistics to show why it is not economical.
(4) Maintain consistency across slides; for example, across different slides, mention your variables in the same order. Make your schematics and figures align along the same way. Showing the schematic with A to the left of B, while, the micrograph shows A to the right of B is bad enough; showing A on top of B (that is, making a longitudinal section transverse in a later slide) is certainly not a good idea.
(5) Know your audience, and pitch the introduction to the audience. For example, in a conference on the applications of Ti-based alloys, you do not want to convince your audience about the superiority of Ti-based alloys. But, if you really want to put in a slide, make it technical; give data and statistics to make your point. Simply listing things like “Good specific strength — Good formability — Cheap” is certainly not a good idea — Cheap compared to what? Good specific strength compared to what? How much?
(6) Listing “the experimental procedures used in this study” is again not a good idea (unless you have a specific reason for doing so — for example, you use a well known experimental technique for a purpose for which it is not usually used, or you have two different techniques which complement each other). Thus, if you list the experimental techniques, you might also want to say why you are listing them. If your list reads “XRD for crystal structure determination, SEM for microstructural study, DSC for tracking the glass transition” etc, you don’t need to list them.
(7) Conclusion slide should be short and concise; embellishing it with lots of subtle points robs the presentation of its power. Here again, instead of lengthly explanations, short sentences are what are effective. In a 15 or 20 minute talk for example, if you have more than 3 conclusions, your talk needs pruning. And, the only slide that should follow the conclusion slide is acknowledgements. Having three slides after the conclusion to talk about the most recent, intersting stuff that you just obtained in your laboratory is as jarring as listening to a loud, mindless advertisement jingle immediately following a concert of MS or Mallikarjun Mansur!
(8) Review talks which are too broad are, most of the times, not a good idea. However, if you happen to give one, play it to your strengths. At least some fraction of the work that you present should have originated from you or your group. While giving such talks, listing all that has been done without your own take on the information is again not a good idea. The attitude should be: is there something that emerges when we put all these information together, which has not been spelt out explicitly by anoybody.
(9) While making presentations, telling a story helps. It is spectacular if you can lead the audience to expect some trend, and then show and convince them it does not happen that way. On top, if you can also explan/show why the expected trend is not observed, the quality of the talk gets elevated to the next level. Such “Aha” moments are the ones that truly communicate the joy of research. However, the story format works fine even if all the trends are as expected, as long as your narration is cogent.
(10) Find a theme for your topic and repeat it; tell what you are going to tell, tell, and then tell what you have told.
(11) This is something that everybody assumes to be common knowledge, which, beginners usually miss out. Every diagram, data, result, art work, micrograph, and table in your talk, if it is not yours, should be credited to the source. This holds even to those schematics which you make based on somebody else’s. If there is no credit, people automatically assume that that is your result. I have known more than one embarassing instant where a nice movie or micrograph presented in the talk happened to be not that of the speaker which led to some real unpleasant feelings at the end of an otherwise good presentation. And, one line at the bottom, crediting the source would have saved them from such a fate.
This place is as good as any for me to stop. Go forth, give your talks. Put in a bit of effort; it always shows. And, if you have any comments/suggestions, please feel free to jot it down here!
Hindu carries an article about the spirit of IISc-ians as reflected in the comments of bloggers following the recent terrorist attack: the first blogger to be quoted, is, of course, Abi. If the attack on IISc is the first of its kind, let us hope our reaction sends the right signals about the futility of any such attacks.
Yesterday, out of the blue, it came and hit us — terror attack on IISc. Random acts of violence such as this are committed with a view of spreading fear and panic (while, what they actually manage to spread is pain and sadness–in a place like IISc, it also spreads some curiosities about range of bullets, what they are made up of, how they are fired, and all such other academic questions). I hope that this incidence is but an aberration; more than that, I hope that the Institute and its ways of life will remain research-coffee-board-and-tea-kiosk-oriented. Our sympathies and condolences to the family of Prof. MC Puri and our wishes to a speedy recovery to all those who are hurt–physically, mentally, and spiritually.