25 December, 2014

DAIICT - A flashback...

Hey ! Merry Xmas....

While this year is coming to an end, and now when I look back, I can not only visualize the last year, but also the previous years, since I joined DAIICT for under-graduation. I checked-in the K101 room of Women HOR DAIICT on 15th July 2011 and checked out of it on 1st December 2014. For some reasons, I am planning to visit the college this week and the thought of going back evoked nostalgic memories of last 3.5 years. I don't know what this post will turn out to be. I am jotting down random thoughts that strike my mind. Let me put this post as a mere experience, which can reach out to a larger set of audience, with whom I didn't have an opportunity to interact with directly. Ideally, I wanted to write a dos and don'ts that I realized in last 4 years, but my friends has beautifully described it in his blog and my views are completely on the same page.

I am often questioned - ' why aren't you at IIT ? ' To your surprise, I didn't even appear for the JEE entrance exam and IIT was never an option for me. I had not even joined any coaching institute or crash course for AIEEE. But, my perseverance and luck landed me to 23.188582, 72.628658. DAIICT was one of the best university for typically - me. It is just 35 kms from my home, just a 45 minute travel time to reach my second home. Its the best combination of hostel and home life I could have ever imagined. With less than 2 washing bars used in 4 years, most of the weekends spent eating ghar-ka-khana, changing 5 mobile phones and lots of resolutions, here goes my under-graduation life. 

I think I made the most of my under-graduation. To sum up in few words, the journey of past 3.5 years was some great friends, some cordial relations with faculty and staff, some awesome projects (9+ with learnings and memories attached with each one), some research taste (2 papers published and still more in process), part of some great communities, co-founding some clubs and chapters (Women Who Code, Gujarat and ACM- DAIICT chapter), some awesome achievements, some life-time awards, memorable tech-fest (ifest) and cultural-fest(synapse), winning many competitions, some scholarships, attending meetups, participating in workshops, being finalists in hackathon, invited as speakers for several events, some awesome internships, some great offers, internationally representing my university, some mentoring and teaching assistance experience, working and using cutting edge technology like Google Glass and smart watch and a lot of free swags and merchandise. This all was parallel to a super awesome academic record with a CGPI of 9.06 on a 10 point scale with being university topper for 4 semesters. In short, a phenomenally high CGPI, with a balance of pretty much all domains of co and extra curricular activities. I cherish a lot of my 'firsts' in many things during the under-graduation course. The experience it gave me was impeccable. It was a combination of positive and negative experiences, but none of them were a waste. I learned a lot over time from the bad encounters.This span of 4 years completely changed me. Its hard to recognize Kesha, who just entered the university. DAIICT has kind of made me more confident, brave and courageous to take up any position and challenge that life puts forth.

Resource Centre (the library) was one of my most favorite places on-campus. I can't imagine a day without having a visit of RC ! Why ? Coz it gave me some peace time, some inspiration from fellow people, a lot of freedom to pursue my dreams, and to use up 70% of my free time efficiently, for myself. DAIICT has a great alumni, and friendly seniors. Its famous for 0% ragging. I remember myself being in anti-ragging committee and I hardly had to spend any time towards it. It has the combination of best students and best faculty.

DAIICT is a great university. I find it lenient in terms of academics, particularly lectures. If you don't like to attend lectures due to any reason -  find them boring, or too lazy to wake up at 8:30 am ( most of us were all-nighters), but you can somehow manage to get a good score by studying on your own from textbook or video lectures online, then nobody questions you here. Only the labs and assignments were mandatory components. Of-course, it differs from course-to-course, but this was the overall scenario. As a freshman (maybe sophomore also), I was a sincere student - attended each and every lecture, did assignments quite before deadlines, my notes circulated in class and was a topper. The freshman year was all used up exploring new horizons that I could experiment in the upcoming years. Sophomore was actually a turning point, where I felt the change from nerd to geek. This was the year where I started trying my hands on new tools/technologies amd contributing to open source. Junior year was the best balanced life and final year, which is half done now was all roaming and full of trips ! 

You may find other universities as flexible as this, but two of the main reasons of joining this was the unique course that it offers - ICT and placement scenario. My class had a bunch of 240 awesome students. So, this was helpful from placements point of view. I remember the orientation week, when mostly 70% of the time people were talking about placements, companies visiting the campus, average package, highest package etc. I see DAIICT as a plus in three ways: 1. There are a number of companies visiting campus every year. Though, there is a  scope of still more dream category companies to come, yet the pack that comes is appreciable. 2. The records and graphs have been positive and a constant increase. Every year, it performs better than its past year. Thanks to the placement cell! and 3. The most important one is - there are just 300 students competing for 3-4 positions that a niche company usually offers as opposed to 1500 students competing for 4-6 positions in universities with many domains and many branches. Your probability is 1% as opposed to 0.002% in other colleges. So, if you want some industrial exposure before masters or settle with a job, this university is for you! :D

Just a small piece of advice to future DAIICTians. Never have your two following lists empty - ToDo list and Bucket list. Be passionate about computing. Always try and explore new things. But, at the same time, don't try to grab everything you come across. Some events are just bullshit and a total waste of time, energy and efforts. Bullshit events for me can be important and interesting for you. Everyone is different. Analyze what is good for you. Step out of your comfort zone. Never run behind collecting certificates and things just for the sake to include in your resume. Don't get your strings attached with anyone. People patch-up and break-up easily (which I can't). I resolved to be single and independent when I entered university and I was able to live upto it with full expectations. Trust me, its possible. I tried and I have been successful. Although, I would appreciate one in twenty couples from my class, but those kind of true relationship rarely exists at this stage. Try to get in good company of friends. Make some good friends from seniors, Mtech, MScIt, PhDs. Have some people in surrounding who motivates you, supports you and helps you through your thick and thin. Learning and helping should be symbiotic. If you think its not happening, there is a pinch of envy or anything just cut the thread. Looking around, you will find many people like you, who are passionate and willing to learn and help.

When I entered the college, I had many role-models from seniors like Ishani Parekh, Aakriti Gupta, Megha Tak, Nikhil Marathe, Aditya Bhatt, Viranch Mehta, Anil Kishore, Siddharth Kothari, BSRK Aditya, Smit Sanghavi etc. It feels so great that I am leaving this university as a role model for many juniors. The best moment of recent semester is 12 am onwards, when juniors come to my room for some technical queries or just guidance and tell me how much I inspired and motivated them. I have got some fan list before leaving daiict ;) Summing up, DAIICT had been a beautiful journey, a journey from which I won't like to erase any episode and never regret any chapter. Finally, wishing me future endeavors. :')

Thank you mom, dad and bro for your support and unconditional love throughout. I love you !

17 December, 2014

[Systers] Pass-It On Award Fall 2014 Recipient.

Yayy ! I am awarded Anita Borg Pass It On Award for Fall 2k14.

I am the only recipient from India with fellows from USA, Burungi, Canada, Rwanda and Uganda . Thank You Anita Borg that I can take forth a step to encourage Indian women in computing fields through this platform.

My project is to organize one day full workshop plus a 10-day coaching program for learning basic computer skills. Basic computer skills include computer parts recognition (e.g. identifying hardware, familiarizing GUI, etc.), offline applications (e.g. word processors, spreadsheets, etc.), Internet and online applications (e.g. searches, maps, media, etc.) and more.

For the full article see this article on Medium.

05 December, 2014

Wrapping Up Semester 7

 Yay ! Its finally my favorite time of the year again (Hopefully not the last ! :( ). Time to analyze past 4 months, semester 7 of my under-graduation. Like past semesters ( some parts from Semester 6 continued :D ), here are some highlights: 
  • Results of CLEF ehealth task announced. The results very pretty favorable ( 4th position internationally). With this, my first paper of under-graduation published :) ) - "User-Centered Information Retrieval system for Clinical Documents, Conference and Labs for Evaluation Forum (CLEF), 15-18th September, 2014, Sheffield - UK "
  • Participated in Document Similarity Task- FIRE 2014.( Second paper of under-graduation. :) ) - " Playing with distances: Document Similarity Amid Automatically Detected Terms, Forum for Information Retrieval Evaluation, 5-7th Decemeber, 2014, Bangalore - India "
  • I am right now at ISI,Bangalore attending FIRE 2014 - Forum for Information Retrieval Evaluation.
  • Next, I am planning to participate in SemEval 2015 - Analysis of Clinical Text
  • Mentor for program Learn IT girls! ( teaching a new language/tool to a female ). I would be mentoring +Dinu Sandaru to learn Ruby and Rails by making an app - Expense Splitter.
  • Mentoring in Season Of KDE. Guiding +Sai Krishna and +Aarsee Aeron to add activities to GCompris, an eduacational Suite under KDE.
  • Mentoring for organizations BRL-CAD and KDE in Google Code In helping young pre-university students to enter into the world of Open Source.
  • Teaching Assistant for IT105 course- Introduction To Programming Course for freshman at DAIICT. 
  • Anti-Ragging Committee, member.
  • Called for on-site Interview for one of my dream company - Google !
  • A unique exposure at the Tech Expo Event, Morgan Stanley.
  • Awarded the scholarship for Grace Hopper Conference for Women In Computing, but couldn't attend it due to university exams ! :(
  • Speaker for Open Source Meetup at Ahmedabad University.
    There are some more updates, but unfortunately, I think this is not the right platform at this time. It would be published soon. Stay tunned to my blog :)

[Open Source] Talks @ Contributor's Meetup at Ahmedabad University

2nd December 2014:

I was invited to Ahmedabad University to deliver a lecture on - What is open source ? and how to get started with contributing in FOSS ? I introduced them to some programs like Google Summer of Code, Google Code In, Outreach Program for Women, Season of KDE, Rails Girls Summer of Code etc.

I covered the program "Google Summer of Code" in detail. The highlights of the talk were -
1. What is the program ?
2. What are the goals of the program ?
3.How does the Google Summer of Code program work ?
4. Timeline for this year
6. Participating projects
7. Why should I participate
8. Some useful links.
[The link to presentation I presented]

In the second part of the talk, I shared my experience and past journey contributing in open source. I also highlighted the fact that apart from contributing code to the codebase of any project, there are many other ways. One could contribute to documentation, testing, quality assurance, user interface, managing the community or even just promoting product via tweeting/facebooking. Each and every type of the contribution is equally respectable and how OPW provides a platform to woman to start contributing. I also informed that OPW runs twice a year.

I also made them aware about "Season of KDE", in which I am currently mentoring. How it runs and what kind of experience you would have, participating in it, and why they should participate in it.

In the last part of the talk, I told them about Git and Github - a distributed Version Control System and gave them a small demo of working locally as well as remotely with a large code-base.

This was one of the best audience I came across. They were highly motivated by the talk and really wanted to start contributing to open source. They asked for one more hands-on workshop or hackathon or something of that sort, which would give them a quick-start. So, we are planning to have our next meetup on 4th January 2015 (tentative). Until then, they asked for some homework.

So, this goes for you too, if you are one who has been thinking to contribute in open source for a long time, but hasn't had that click to start, you can start doing this homework ! 1. Choose an open source project that interests you (Search via tags in accepted organizations list as I showed during presentation) 2. Find out their IRC channel and hang around it. Introducing you to the community is a plus ! 3. Get the source code of the project. 4. Build it from source. 5. Find out some beginners' task to solve. This is really a difficult step and we are planning to emphasize on this in the meetup on 4th January 2015. Do consider attending this meetup. I can assure you a great feeling of accomplishment and learning something new and life-changing.

Looking forward to meet you at Ahmedabad University on Jan 4. :)

If you have any questions, you can post it below in comments or mail me at kesha(dot)shah1106(at)gmail(dot)com

And yeah, Thank You AU for such an awesome personalized doodle. I can definitely say that it was one of the best gifts I received. Thank You ! :)