Hari Shanker R

Hari Shanker R

A Happiness Engineer at Automattic.

B.Tech in CSE = Computer Engineer?

Came across this interesting link, courtesy techie and senior-at-Loyola, Vishnu Gopal‘s blog.

It speaks of how Wikipedia can teach you perhaps as much stuff as a formal Computer Science degree can!

If you weren’t feisty enough to click the link and find out why, the author has cited another link where another person counters his point citing how College grads score way higher than self-taught ones.

This is a moot point, and let me just share my views on it.

I know a LOT of self-taught people like this guy and this guy to name a few. Vishnu himself is another notable example among such ‘self-learned men’. These people learned a lot of stuff by themselves and are actually professionals in their own fields without much help from their education. As far as I know, they’ve spent days learning complex facets of coding, designing et al. And if what I hear about them is to be trusted, they’re extremely successful in their own fields. The people I’ve mentioned above with links are undergrad students while Vishnu is a B.Tech graduate. All of them are of the solid belief that their B.Tech education’s nothing more than just a ‘degree’ in paper.

I don’t know about other branches of Engineering, but my trade (Information Technology) deals with Web Technologies, and ‘Information management’ (to quote my former Head Of Department). Two years of education later, I’m yet to learn anything ‘tangible’. Yes, I know how to make random games in Java, how to implement a Linked List in C. I even know enough about Big O’ Notation and Hash functions, to hold a seminar for Twelfth grade kids. But these persons I’ve mentioned… they’re creating, re-engineering web-technologies by their own means. They’re re-writing web-technologies and even making tangible money in the process!

My engineering education teaches me to memorize things. In the process of my ‘learning’ all I do is to learn essays by rote. I ‘read’ and ‘understand’ a lot of materials so that I can reproduce them in the exams. I need marks, for good marks would buy me a good job! But I forget them the very next day. I’m sure my classmates would concur.

Is this what we mean by education? The Oxford Dictionary defines education as: “The activities of educating or instructing; activities that impart knowledge or skill”. Exams are the ‘comprehensive processes of evaluation’ that help understand how far one has learned. But they turn out to be nothing more than memory tests. The process of ‘retention’ supercedes ‘understanding’ and ‘application’ in our learning process, at least in my university. If my friends at the IITs, NITs and reputed foreign universities like MIT are to be believed, the process is altogether different there. It’s all about implementing what you learned that matters in these abodes of higher learning. That should be the raison d’ etre of acquiring knowledge, especially prescient in this new era of challenges!

So the next time you learn, try to think out-of-the-box. Think about implementation, real-life scenarios and the like! Embrace education as fun, instead of pain. I’m sure you’ll relish it! Unsatisfied by bookish knowledge, you’ll scourge the world for more and more knowledge!

Take my word, the combination of eclectic and comprehensive univeristy syllabi of a ‘University-Grad’ with the vocationary-interest and will of a ‘self-learned-man’ will turn out to be an extremely potent one!

Whoops, I gotto run!! Time to mug for my exams tomorrow… Already overstepped my ‘break’:-)

10 Comments

  1. ~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~

    Well nicely put. I’m myself an engineer who works in an engineering CORE field and still can’t apply a single thing i learned when i was in my college in my job. Basically because, either i’ve forgotten what i’d LEARNED by rote or i just didn’t consider those topics as important. That’s what happens when a field like engineering, which has ONLY practical applications is taught by people who’ve no industry experience. I’m telling each and every junior of mine what to give importance on and what not to waste time on. That’s coz i was so ashamed of myself when i faced my 1st interview after i got this job. It was a periodic assessment thingy done in our firm to make sure the guys they picked are the right one’s and have the best of knowledge. They asked me a simple question about the various commercial types of stainless steels and sadly i’d NEVER heard that vast field in my entire BTech, nor did any of my colleagues here @ work. It was then that i realised that what i learned is nothing and i should not make my juniors suffer.

    Hence i do believe that an engineer isn’t one who has a BTech or a BE degree, but still SELF learning won’t be possible in a field like MECHANICAL engineering. So can’t say that i agree to your post 🙂

  2. Brokenconcept Fusedauthority

    Absolutely right Hari. In OUR university you’ve got to take calculated risks and take the path less taken, even if it might mean a few more supplies. The only difference between “proper education” and “kerala university” is that both are miles apart from each other. I have hope that one day they WILL realize their stupidity and give us a “real” syllabus. Till then, keep hoping!

  3. jj

    Totally agree with you on this. Education does not serve its purpose when it is marginalized to achieving a few grades by mugging up fundas. Its even more ridiculous when you are rated as per the grades you score instead of the level of knowledge you have and how you apply it to contemporary things.

    Step into the industry and you feel wasted coz of your education (as a friend quoted).

    It happens man… especially when the exam fever gets onto you.
    The whole system just bugs you. This reminds of my undergrad days I myself used to get this sudden urge to blog about the same on the days before an exam!

  4. Hari

    @ Abhi:
    Thanks for the detailed comment. You’re right, bro! It’s a different scenarion for mechanical engineers. 😀 But as I’ve tried to zero in my subject. At least in my subject, self learning is the only go!

    But see… it’s not possible to know EVERYTHING! Your colleagues didn’t know the answer either, didn’t they? Then why fear? 😀

    @ brokenconcept:
    Yep, you’re right, Laksh dude! But I guess we’ll have to remain HOPING for a LONG LONG TIME! 🙁
    And yeah, the risks must be really calculated, and the supplis must be avoided! Tough job, yes.

    @ jj:
    True to the core, sis! Exams always usher in a sea of such thoughts!! Hope I’ll get over them quickly coz it’s virtually disturbing my peace! 😉

  5. binnyva.com

    First of, I am one of the self-taught professionals – and I am proud to be one.

    In my opinion, its not possible to teach computer since without revamping the education structure. Computer field changes so fast that you have to rewrite the books twice every semester.

  6. Hari

    @ binnyva.com:
    I could very well see that in your website(s)! 😮

    Man, you’re a hardcore professional!!

    You’re true down to the last word…

  7. Sriram

    man.. my combi plan is active now!!! I stayed up just to see if it changed 🙂

    Wohoo!

  8. Vishnu Gopal

    Hi, thought I'd clarify a bit since I'm mentioned in this post a lot. The Computer Science & Engineering degree as taught in Kerala blows. Elsewhere, it's not so. There's a lot to learn from the academia which is useful and practical in every day life.

    There is also a pretty big difference between being a computer science graduate and being a software engineer. Knowledge of the former isn't required for the latter, but it definitely does help.

    My suggestion: learn it yourself. The compiler construction book for example is a gem. If only people weren't asked to mug it up whole!

  9. Hari

    Hi, thought I'd clarify a bit since I'm mentioned in this post a lot. The Computer Science & Engineering degree as taught in Kerala blows. Elsewhere, it's not so. There's a lot to learn from the academia which is useful and practical in every day life.

    There is also a pretty big difference between being a computer science graduate and being a software engineer. Knowledge of the former isn't required for the latter, but it definitely does help.

    My suggestion: learn it yourself. The compiler construction book for example is a gem. If only people weren't asked to mug it up whole!

    @ Vishnu:
    Truly honoured by your comment,Vishnu chetta… 😀

    The content in this post was truly based on hear-say and some, if not many, personal experiences. 🙂

    There is also a pretty big difference between being a computer science graduate and being a software engineer.
    *Sheepish grin*
    Ah… I often used use both terms interchangeably! Never knew the *exact* border-line. Thanks for enlightening me, bro. 🙂

    I’ll only learn Compiler Design in S6. And I’ll sure keep your words in mind!

    Thanks once again. Your comment made my day, bro! 🙂

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