JOST A MON

The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 21, 2008

A Sloganeering Summer

In our final year at graduate school, we began to think fondly of the time spent there, and we cast about for a special souvenir to commemorate the grace we had inflicted on the Institute. After much cogitation, fuelled by unlimited helpings of the Andhra thaali at Amaravati (rice, ghee and gunpowder. The palate melts. Rs 18 for all you can eat. The wallet shrieks triumphantly.), we decided that nothing would establish our creative credentials and intellectual gravitas than a - wait for it - a sweatshirt for the class of 1994.

We took to heart the caption that appeared on the chests of several electrical engineering alumni from IIT-Bombay who had recently joined our school. We were four year transformed 1, said the caption punningly and cunningly. We wanted to come up with something equally punchy and pithy.

Immediately, the factionalism that had been hitherto sub-surface bubbled to the fore. The Communications types withdrew from the design committee because the rest of us couldn't understand what they wanted. What can I say? They were lacking in communications skills. The Electrical clan splintered along the usual fault lines: signal theorists disdained the high-voltage types. The Computers had little to say, geeks as they were; although they were conscious of their superiority, they also had a particular desire to please and were willing to go along unctuously with any positive contribution by the others. The Metallurgists preferred to be called Materialists and resented the general implication that they had the IQs of chimps (who, after all, put down Metallurgy as their first choice of study in engineering?)

It was then resolved that the various departments would come up with their own slogans. The Communicators came up with painful stuff such as We do it with samples 2 and Communications Engineers do it in queues 3. The Metallurgists constructed a blunt rod of esoteric materials: a few fullerenes, a few composites, all covered with laminar steel. They then proceeded to terrorise the rest of us with it.

The Electricians sniggered for weeks with their motto: Our discharge is positively shocking.

The truly lame contributions, of course, were those from the Typists 4. I byte bit-by-bit was one. Worse: We go Turing from Church to Post 5

At the end, as with all good intentions, nothing remained. No sweatshirts. No coffee-mugs. Not even a directory of year. 1994 came and went, people dispersed their separate ways, and all that remained were the distant memories of that sloganeering summer.

1 Four year transformed? Fourier? Electrical engineers can't do it without it.
2 Sampling? Nyquist's theorem?
3 Queueing Theory. A must for any designer of telecommunications networks.
4 Typists = computer types. All we do is type.
5 Alan Turing, Alonzo Church, Emile Post: founders of the science of computability.

5 comments:

labsji said...

Now I remember the hackers@csa.ernet.in sweatshirt. How we were proudly donning it in the mighty Himalayas.

Maybe I'll dig out some photos of them someday.

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

The Metallurgists constructed a blunt rod of esoteric materials: a few fullerenes, a few composites, all covered with laminar steel. They then proceeded to terrorise the rest of us with it.

LOL! :) nice post.

Fëanor said...

labsji: on that trek, i put so much antifungal powder on the sweatshirt, it began to lose colour. then i lost colour. but it was a comfy sweatshirt, eh?

the_girl_from_ipanema: thanks! and welcome! i take it you are neither an electrician nor a metallurgist? :-)

Safari Al said...

We go Turing from Church to Post


That is so geekishly cool.

Fëanor said...

Safari_al: thanks! but clearly inspiration died early that summer :-)

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