ACADEMIC PROJECTS -The What, the Why, the When & the How

September 22, 2014

ACADEMIC PROJECTS -The What, the Why, the When & the How

For me, when I joined my B.Tech course 14 years back one of my greatest expectation about the course was that I would be able to do that great project work at the end of course. Inspiring project ideas dropping in from every new technology I read up together with the news about the remarkable projects done by engineering students flourishing in the newspapers, I never had any doubts in my mind other than where to begin. Moreover I grew up listening to my father’s college life experience at REC Calicut (now NITC) and his experience at the Computer Lab of IITM for his P.G Project on Structural Analysis. He did his project in an IBM 370/55 computer where he had to input data using Hollerith punching cards and the results were again received in the form of punched cards which would later be converted to prints. When you consider this happened in the 1970’s you might be able to understand the depth of the dedication and work put in.

Academic Projects are often considered as realistic proof of the technical expertise the student gathered over the years of his/her coaching. Most interviewers consider the academic projects very seriously, as, in the case of most graduates, it is the only technical or practical work done by them. I am not including the entire graduating community under this tag but it is true in most of the cases. It is through your project that the Interviewer sees and tests your ability of practical approach to technical issues.  This alone shows the importance of Academic Projects.

The Universities over the years have shown varying approaches to Academic Projects. We find that for courses like B.Tech the different streams have different approach to Academic Projects. Some courses ask students to submit a mini project before the main project. This is a really good approach as the students will be better equipped with technical knowledge in this case. But the time allotment is very important in this case. Clashing the theory studies with projects will leave the students clueless of both. Interestingly there are courses which allow six months to one year for the Academic Projects, especially P.G.Courses.

Considering four things are very important when you start with your project. First, it is the “What”. Your project can be based on many things. It can be an innovation or solution to an already existing problem. It can be a future ready technology or improvement of an existing technology. It can be usage of an existing technology to solve an industrial or societal issue. The main requirement with the project is that it should have a fair share of input uniquely done by you. Often it is seen that many students take the most critical decisions about their career based on their project experience. It is through this exposure that some decide to enter core field and some even realize that tech world is not their cup of tea. Before starting with your project you should know your interested area of studies, in case of main projects it is considerably easier because we might have already covered the main portion of course and would know your area of interest without any doubt.

Second, it is the” Why”. Why have you chosen this particular project? You should realize that this Project is going to represent you at every point of submission hence it should be relevant for either the tech world or the Society in general. Your project should be meeting your academic requirements. It should help you aid in your career. There are many students who turned their project into their career with their entrepreneurial gene. The Project should give you a practical experience for which the present education system does not allow many options. It should help you gain knowledge. Actually if you have found justified answer to this “Why”, then you have made the first step to marketing.

Then comes the time factor, the “When”. When you choose a project you should be able to calculate the time it might take for completion. So rather than panicking on the day of submission, it is better we have a schedule for the same. If you have a mini project it is better to have the main project as an extension of it. So that you will have already set the basic and all you will have to do would be upgrading. And if you can to choose the seminar topic from the same field then it would be perfect. Even after submitting the project the documentation process delays setting up difficulties for students. So the schedule has to be planned keeping in mind all these concerns.

Now finally but most importantly comes the “How”. After you select a Project and have convinced yourself with the answers for the first three ‘Wh’ questions, then it is your hard work and determination that pays off with proper resources. Even after collecting the available information on the project it is necessary to get help of Guide, either internally or externally, as the knowledge of experience is far greater than anything else. You should make sure that the guide has enough time to spend with you. You should make sure that the list of components is already prepared and the availability is checked. Some components from outside India will not be delivered to India unless one has the import license. Such cases should be checked before starting with the project. You should ensure the compatibility of your project to respond alike in testing environment as well as development environment. When going forth with your project it is always necessary that you have a backup plan. If any unlikely circumstance occurs at the last minute, you should be able to help yourself out and for that a backup plan is necessary.

When done with your work the last and most important process is presenting it to the world. The demo and the presentation are very important for a project, as they say; First impression is the Best impression. Prepare yourself well to present yourself with your project. Since it is your work, how you deal and explain it will be the sole reason for your teachers and others to pay attention to it. For this a personality development or at least presentation support guidance is a must.

And when you present it with the same passion that made you chose the project the doors of opportunities will certainly open up for you.

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