By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

Start innovating!

Atul Chitnis, a pretty well known Open source enthusiast in Bangalore writes in his journal about his drive to motivate students into innovating while in college:

Stop thinking inside the box. College is like a petri dish - use it to make something of yourself. Don't lie in the petri dish, expecting that at the end you will emerge as something useful. Use the facilities, look for opportunities, stop making excuses about "bad educational system" and "no opportunities". I am a *mechanical* engineer, for $deity's sake! So is Kalyan! And Shanu, one of the sharpest guys in the field that I know of, isn't even an engineer, but a B.Com! Bill Gates is a college drop-out (albeit one born with a silver spoon in his mouth). Yet all of us have one thing in common - *interest* in our fields (which we are not even qualified for) and an ability to see beyond text books and syllabus, and leverage our education to get us professionally into the lines we work in today. Stuff we *enjoy* doing (and hence are good at).

One of the reasons why my project team and I built a hovercraft as our final year project was that we were told it couldn't be done. We were also told "why take the trouble? You will pass even if you build a model of sandmill/blast furnace/etc.". (In mechanical engineering, in those days, the sandmill project was what the text editor project is to C.Sc students today).

We built that damn thing, and it worked - when we started up the 1 sqm. platform, it rose and floated. The look of the guy taking our project viva was priceless. So was the look on our faces when we received the highest marks ever awarded by the university to a final year mechanical engineering project.

But I digress (quite happily so).

My point is - unlike in days gone by (and yes, that sounds like a nostalgic embellishment, but trust me on this), students today don't seem to try to differentiate themselves outside the scope of their exam papers. "Cookie cutter" is a term often used, and quite apt. Worse still, students take up Computer Science without any real interest or aptitude for the field, and then wonder why they arent being snapped up by the Googles of the world.

The answer to this is - innovate. Do something different, something no one has done before. Don't worry if you feel like this is a wild goose chase - you will learn from the project whether you succeed or not. Understand what the needs of today are, try and identify an unaddressed niche, e.g. the need for online URL directories (Yahoo), efficient web searching (Google) or standardised programming languages (Microsoft). Let your imagination run free, don't allow yourself to be trapped in a web of conformity and standardisation.

Innovate now - it's your best chance at a successful career later in life.

And while you are at it, learn to use the tools of innovation - the ones you don't have to plan on buying just to try them out. Try using components and tools that are freely available to you, and which encourage you to understand them (instead of hiding the details from you).

You may have heard this before, but the future *is* open.

You may feel that all this is just useless ramble by some guy with too much time on his hands. That's ok, as long as you remember that in the future, some such guy may interview you for that dream job you are dying to get - and whose first question will be "so tell me about yourself, what have you done that's different from what everyone else is doing?"

I cant agree more with him. I have met scores of people, who believe that scoring maximum marks in a course which speaks high of some darn motors and rotors is the ultimate path to satisfaction and fame. It's crap. A guy who dreams of something different, and implements that is far far superior than the one who can explain what infinite bus bars do. It is not just anything technical that I am talking about. Anything! Even a club that one might start to think diferently, think what others haven't thought of before. Or implementing a project that none have dared to venture into before. That's what I call intellect & passion.

Innovate !!


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