Game of Loans and Thesis Endgame

I woke up to see my social media flooded with posts on the new episode of Game of Thrones that released today. My peers who swear that they have never managed to attend an 8:45 lecture had apparently risen from their deep slumber to watch the episode. ” It was a long two-year wait and Winter is coming “, they cry out.
Coincidentally, my Master’s has also been “a long expensive two-years (and Interest is coming)” that I am eager to be done with. I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon unless my supervisor snaps his fingers and magically destroys 50 % of my troubles. Don’t get me wrong. I love my research. The fact that it’s taking a while hopefully means that my work will be worthy of someone’s else’s literature survey in the future. In all probability, I might get et-al. zoned and be one of those random authors referenced in the middle of a survey paper that no one reads. Only time will tell.

I know that all good things must come to an end and I’ve had an incredible time here. This post is about ending it on the right note. This will be my last blog post as part of the EEMCS promotion team. Cheers to Angelica and Anne for letting me use this platform for biweekly rants ( when my schedule doesn’t get too busy :P). Shoutout to my proofreader who’s probably getting treated to some momos once this is done.

I Don’t Want To Go, Mr. Stark

To the current and future students of TU Delft, I don’t have much to give you, except a bit of advice. Master’s is a ride and self-care is important. Research has its ups and downs and literature surveys never seem to end. But you’re going to make it through. No matter what. Whatever it takes ( I swear that’s the last Avengers reference I’m doing :P).

This is Pradeep signing off.

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Making dough cause y’all knead it

Humble apologies for being a bit late with this week’s blog. I solemnly swear I was up to no good (AKA thesis). This led to never-ending procrastination of writing this article until my calendar started to look like this. 

What follows is a series of unfortunate events.
== I am a recovering caffeine-aholic (not an actual word, but you get the meaning).
== It doesn’t help that the cheapest coffee on campus is 0.45 Euros.
== It definitely doesn’t help that I gulp down at least 6 cups every morning.

== It most certainly doesn’t come as a surprise that I got pretty broke, pretty fast.

So, like every other poor graduate student, I looked out for jobs on campus. That’s how I ended up being your one and only favorite blogger. The Master Promotion Team lets students advertise their favorite Master program. You get paid for your time and it’s a pretty sweet job. The vacancies are advertised at the beginning of every academic year, and depending on your interests, you can go for blog writing (like yours truly), Instagram posts or guide new students around during the Master Information Meet.

Another source of valuable coins in your pocket is by applying for Teaching Assistant positions. Pick your favourite course from your first year and ask the professor if he would have any available positions for the coming academic year. There’s a good chance you would find yourself on the nicer side of the classroom across your peers.
( http://microelectronics.tudelft.nl/Openings/ )

Second year can get pretty lonely with your thesis, so keeping yourself occupied with a TA or a job is a pretty good idea. There’s some formalities that you need to finish up with FlexDelft and your insurance, but that shouldn’t take too long. So if you intend to do your thesis on campus, feel free to apply for one of these jobs. Maybe you can treat yourself to a Coffee-star coffee once in a while.

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Genesis of your Thesis

Talk around the Aula is that y’all been growing tired of the monotonic activity of taking Courses, getting Credits and chugging Coffee. Well, this blog post is to highlight the “enjoyable, amusing, pleasurable, pleasing, agreeable, interesting, fun and exciting” part of your Master’s Program. This post is about the ( insert “Drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrum-roll”) Thesis.

The thesis, in a few words, is basically picking your favorite topic in your favorite course in your Master’s program and learning how to despise it. Kidding. This post should probably get a bit more serious lest I get fired.

“The master’s thesis can be seen as the masterpiece by which the student shows being worth the MSc degree[1].” Fancy definition apart, highlighted below are the steps one would take to go about a thesis.

1. You start off with selecting a subject which you found interesting during your first year.
2. Find a problem in that subject that keeps you up at night. (NOTE: Do not underestimate the importance of this requirement).
3. Find a couple of papers which successfully ( and unsuccessfully ) tackle the problem.
4. Come up with a proposal on how you’re going to build upon these ideas.
5. Compress all this glorious, new found knowledge into a presentation.
6. Fix up a meeting with the research group working closely with the field. Talk to the PhDs in the lab first to check if you are on the right track.
7. Have your idea shot down ( fundamental mistakes happen, it’s okay!! ) or taken to greater heights.
8. Repeat Step 7 until you’re confident that you want to spend close to a year on this.
9. By the power vested in your thesis supervisor, you may now begin your thesis (Tears of joy).

What follows these steps is ideally a formal literature review, a couple of meetings, applying for a Thesis Entry Permit etc. The deadlines, format, and procedure of the above vary across research groups and only happens after you’ve taken that first baby steps into your thesis. Another blog post altogether.

References
[1]https://www.tudelft.nl/en/2017/citg/transport-planning/education/master-programme-msc/master-thesis/

Footnote : Always Cite.

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New Quarter, New Me and other things.

February is that time of the year when most students find themselves with resolutions broken, fingers frozen and a bowl of delicious, hot ramen. Hello World! And welcome to Q3.

Wonderful weather through the year. Only at Delft !

It was exactly this time last year when I had completed my last course from Quarter 2. I distinctly remember that sudden intoxicating rush of freedom that swept in on exiting the examination hall. To celebrate the heavy load of Q2 off my shoulders, I treated myself to a hot Stroopwafel at the City Centre. To the uninitiated, they taste very different from the ones you get on campus. I also took a trip to the top of the church. In hindsight, that was a pretty bad idea given how windy it was.

The Real Stroopwafels

I had two days before my Q3 began and I had absolutely no clue which courses to pick. Q3 is this delicious, tempting buffet of advanced courses in a student’s Master’s program. A subset of the courses you pick would most probably point towards your desired research group and thesis. If you’re like me and have your feet in too many boats (wouldn’t recommend it 😛 ), go ahead and drop by all of them in Week 3.1 and then make your choice. No pressure.

Two quarters into the system, you know how things work and how to plunder those remaining precious ECTS to finish your requirements. Now is when you start talking to that Research Group you’ve been stealing glances at. Go ahead and find out what they expect from you and what you can learn from them. Pick your courses wisely and start drawing up an informal StudyPlan ( if you haven’t already) [ https://mystudyplanning.tudelft.nl ].

Look back and see how far you’ve come and how close you are to that piece of paper that’s going to make it all worth it. Breathe. Self-care is a priority. You’ve got this. Happy Q3.

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Have you met MEST ?

To the outside world, I’m just an ordinary member of MEST, but secretly I use my bandwidth to publicize MEST and put it out there. My name is Pradeep Venkatachalam and I’m one of MEST’s newest board members.

MEST is the Micro-Electronic Systems & Technology Association. If you are a current Masters student in the EEMCS building, there is a good chance you would have attended one of our events. If not, we’ve got an entire series of events scheduled for the coming year. To the uninitiated, MEST is a study association tasked with serving graduate students (MScs) and research scholars/employees (PhDs & Post-docs) at the Department of Microelectronics & Computer Engineering. You’re automatically a MEST member if you study or work in one of these faculties. This also means that enrolling in one of these programs also allows you to receive E-mails regarding events and activities we organise.

Trip to IMEC, Leuven

Trip to IMEC, Leuven

MEST organizes a number of social and technical events throughout the year. These include industry excursions, tech symposiums, quarterly drinks and BBQ sessions. Recently, we organized an industry visit to IMEC, Leuven which was a great success. Visits like this provide important industrial exposure to subjects taught in academia. Our quarterly BBQ and drinking events create a fun environment where students get to know their peers better.

The MEST Board

The MEST Board

Now that you know we exist, do attend one of our upcoming events. We will be sending out emails and putting up posters with details shortly. MEST wishes you a wonderful year ahead.

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Osiris, Quarter Two and some free advice

It’s that wonderful time of the year again. No, this post isn’t about that beautiful first day of Spring, where nature pampers us with its lush greenery, fields of tulips and the warm embrace of the first rays of sunlight.

“If exam season is done, can the declaration of results be far behind ?”

Misquoting Percy Bysshe Shelley ( wonderful poet by the way) apart, this post is about that beautiful Friday morning when my fellow students woke up to a delightful mail that looked something like this.

“The examination for the course EE**** has been evaluated. Have a wonderful weekend.”

Of course, we appreciated the extremely kind gesture of the professor in wishing us a great weekend. I mean, positive vibes and all. Good guy professor. Good vibes aside, this was immediately followed by my WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, Tinder ( Swipe right for advice 😛 ) being bombarded with messages. I’ve made a note of a couple of interesting conversations I had.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Meme Worthy Conversations

To the uninitiated, Osiris is the system of educational administration at TU Delft. Here the student can register for courses and exams. The grades are also published here. It also displays statistics of the distribution of grades among your peers, which I find pretty cool. Joyousness loves company and what not.

The passing grade for most courses here is a 6.0 ( unless explicitly specified otherwise). So if you’ve managed to get yourself on the right side of the curve, good for you. For others, fret not. Most courses have a resit option, where you’re allowed to give the examination or the lab submission again. We all make mistakes and everybody deserves a second chance.

Grades are out, everyone is happy, Quarter 2 has begun, new and exciting courses to be finished. So what’s next? This is that moment in your academic life when you start tallying up the number of ECTS you’ve got in your purse and realize you have a long and an extremely fun journey to go. With doubts regarding the identity of Osiris clarified and put to rest, the following questions followed.

Student: I would like to know if this particular course counts towards my ECTS?
Student: I would like to know what courses would help me towards a thesis in this particular specialization?

For the benefit of the larger audience, I decided to answer these questions in my post.

Firstly, there are Master Information Meeting (MIM) organized almost every quarter for each track. Do attend them as they give a pretty good insight into the expectations of your desired research group from you.

Secondly, arrange a meeting and have a conversation with people working in the research group. Professors are usually occupied in their own research and meetings might be hard to arrange. However, there are always students and Ph.D.’s in every research group who would love to have a conversation about their work. Trigger alert: It can get very inspiring at times. You have been warned.

Thirdly, each track has a wonderful set of Mentors who are tasked with making sure you have a healthy diet of your ECTS. I’m a Mentor myself for the Master’s in Computer Engineering and I like to think that I do a pretty decent job. If you haven’t already, track your mentor down and feed off the bundle of experiences that they’ve had with courses.

That’s all the free advice I’ve got for this week. I wish you all an amazing Quarter 2 and look forward to more interesting messages in the near future ( they’re quality content for memes ).

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Croissants, Caffeine and Credits

Hello. My name is Pradeep and I’m a workaholic. If you haven’t already heard of me ( you should have ), let me have the pleasure of introducing myself. I’m a Masters student studying Computer Engineering at TU Delft. I can often be seen working on cutting-edge research in my lab during the day or haunting the corridors of the library by night. Welcome to the first of many blog posts documenting the life and lies of Yours Truly, at TU Delft.

So here I am sitting in my lab, sipping coffee, munching on a croissant and listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops outside my window, willing these damned creative juices to spew a few words to reach the world limit. I look through my window (great view by the way) to see a group of students racing to their examination halls on their bikes. The howling winds, unforgiving rains, adrenaline rushing through their veins, it’s exam season in TU Delft again and I cannot help but feel nostalgic about the good times I’ve had in my previous year. But more about that soon.

A lab with a view.

For now, let’s just eat croissants, drink coffee and pretend we’re in Paris. “Croissants et cafe-au-lait“. Saying it in French ( pronounced kwass-ohn, you really have to sneeze the words out) and putting it in fancy italics does not make it any sexier. But ” inexpensive food + multiple shots of caffeine = happy graduate student ” is the only equation one really needs to be concerned about here. In related news, there have been multiple reports of students succumbing to the welcoming embrace of the cold winter nights due to caffeine deprivation. Readers are cautioned to watch out for it and are advised to treat themselves to the extensive variety of caffeinated drinks that are made available on campus. Tired of the usual coffee from the vending machines? We’ve got that covered. There are a couple of fancier ones installed around the campus. You can find them in the Van Mourik Broekmanweg, the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and the Aula.

Halloween is approaching. Exam season is here. ECTS are the little treats you get to carry back at the end of the day. To the uninitiated, European Credit Transfer System (Easy-TS :p) is the precious currency that forms an integral part of every student’s academic life here. It isn’t the most important thing, but it’s pretty close to bikes on the “must-have” scale. In TU Delft, your academic progress is measured by the number of ECTS that you possess. The amount of work that goes into a course is defined by the number of ECTS allocated to it. Master’s programs at TU Delft require a student to accumulate a wealth of 120 ECTS. On amassing this fortune, you are awarded a pretty sweet degree and a pat on your back. Proost ( Cheers in Dutch ). Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. To be honest, the system might seem a tad bit overwhelming to take in at first, but that’s completely okay. After a few shaky days, things will definitely start looking up. Hold on tight.

Having satisfactorily achieved the minimum required word limit, it is with a heavy heart that I conclude this post. More posts bragging about life at TU Delft are soon to follow. Stay tuned.

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