After the passage of a good fifty years, a look back to those five years of, 1966 to 19171, ‘studying’ engineering @ L D College of Engineering, Ahmedabad, presents an interesting mixed picture. The academic environment certainly was the driver of the transformation of a novice to an engineering graduate. However, the ‘other’ non-curricular, activities happening at the sides certainly played the catalytic role in that process.
What follows is the attempt to rekindle the memories of Those Anecdotal Years of1966 to 1971 and share those events the way they happened and how they unconsciously shaped to remould my basic instincts and behaviour that were to come to the fore in my subsequent professional life.
I am going to cast the net wide in catching these events, and the details thereof, by inviting my batch-mates to share their own memories and analyses, which I will weave into the narrative, of course, giving each one the due credit for the respective contribution.
Before I take the first step into the deep waters of non-curricular side of our engineering studies, it would be opportune to present what was my frame of mind when I applied for the admission to the graduate engineering course…………
The State of Frame of My Mind as I Ready To Plunge into the Five-Year Graduate-Level Engineering Course
When I finally did get admission to the graduate course in engineering, it was just a step that had happened in the course of progress of student life of most of the students of my time, and (whatever it was, but it was) my educational caliber. All those who thought were good at mathematics at the school level and would score the qualifying marks in the school board examination would invariably choose either admission to the graduate medicine studies or the engineering studies. Many of us had quite explicit reasons for choosing the one, and that one only, but there were as many others as possible too who did not have any set explicit goal but would gladly accept an admission that their standing in the merit list the board examination had made them eligible.
I had studied my pre-science at VP College of Science, Vallabh Vidyanagar, affiliated to S P University. And as it had happened, my standing in the merit list at the S.P. University had made me eligible for direct admission to the graduate medical course at the MS University, Vadodara, under the aegis of the then prevailing MoU between these two universities. The other so qualified students had readily accepted this option. However, I had summarily declined this privilege. To my misfortune, as I perceived it then, I had scored the highest marks in the subject of Biology in the Pre-Science examination of S P University. As such, the principal of our college was totally at loss to comprehend why would such a ‘meritorious’ (😊) student does not opt for the pursuit of a career in medicine. I had harrowing time convincing him that despite the way the dice had rolled, I knew very well that it was nothing less than a miracle that I had been able to remember the Latin names of animals and plants during the botany examination. But, to do so for next six years of study and then for the life, was simply not done. It was for the first time in my student life, that I clearly knew what I was not capable of.
But before, I explain why I scored so well in biology then, let me go back little more and revisit what constituted my study-related behavior.
Even during my studies till tenth standard, I was never good at remembering the whole poem, or dates of historical events or formulae of mathematics and all such aspects which demanded sharp faculty of memory. The way I had studied all those years, as I can now see in the retrospect, my natural instincts did get me to sail through the studies rather easily. But I never ‘exceled’ in the studies. Moreover, I never had put in any serious practice to strengthen up my weak areas. As a result, my results at the examinations were above average, but certainly, never excellent. Nor was I at any time looking at myself to have been left out of the race for the top positions in the examinations.
That changed during my SSC Board study year, the 11th standard. Ours was the second batch to appear for SSC examination form the school, Gujarat Law Society (GLS) High School, Ahmedabad. As such, all teachers had planned to take extra care in matter of the studies of our batch. Our teacher of mathematics and Science, Shri Gopalbhai Patel, had chalked out plan for the rigorous practice of solving the problems of curriculum of our subject of mathematics. As a part of that plan, we must have solved thousands of sums during the whole year! That hard work of practice had resulted in my scoring my life’s highest ever marks in the subject at the final examination for both the subjects of mathematics. Of course, the hard work that I was forced to put in mathematics and to some extent in the science subject had also led me to do more than my extra effort for studying other subjects as well. Coupled with my natural abilities, this more than past normal efforts yielded the ultimate result. I scored my best ever overall score in my student life so far.
During the Pre-Science studies, the curriculum had introduced a ‘new’ method of teaching the basic physics and chemistry. Even as it was my first year of studying in English medium, the two textbooks of these two subjects were so interestingly written to kindle my basic instincts of ‘studying’ while enjoying the studies. In so far as biology as a subject was concerned, my other batch mates of the hostel had sharply focused goal of taking up medicine as their career. So, they were putting in real hard work in their studies. Theirs was the only company those days. So, I also studied more than I would have otherwise studied for the examinations.
Thus, it was some interest and some hard work that were at the back of my ‘good’ show at the pre-science examinations. But the exceptional score for the biology was a miracle that remains unexplained!
On the strength of my that score, I did get admission to the graduate engineering course, in the electrical engineering branch, at L D College of Engineering, Ahmedabad.
Well, it was natural that I was happy that I had secured the admission to the prestigious graduate engineering course, at an institute that was considered #1 in those days in Gujarat in so far as engineering studies was concerned. But, internally, I was feeling elated that I would not be finally studying the medicine and be spared from remembering by heart those Latin names. I think I would be the only one who would be happy because of the elimination of non-preferred option than getting selected for a course that was considered to be a royal path to a good career!
But was I really cut-up to the requirements of studying the engineering? Was I indeed a good enough raw material to be turned out into a ‘good’ engineer? Was the engineering study ecology and the academic environment of LD College really be able to transform me? …………
The answers to these questions lie in far more distant future. In the retrospect, it should be sufficient to state that all that institution offered and all that I could absorb from that had not gone waste and had been proved quite useful, as and when the relevant need did arise.
However, the intent of opening up those pages from the memories is not to clarify what is now no more relevant at this stage of my life. The intent now is to recall those, whether planned or accidental, anecdotes that happened asides the studies and savour them now.
So, we take the plunge……….. now…..
Continued till the next episode ….