<div class="erm-title-wrapper">Interview with Prof. Srimanta Mandal</div>

Interview with Prof. Srimanta Mandal

Question: How long have you been part of DAIICT and how has been your experience so far?

Answer: One year is going to be over by the 4th of October. I joined on the 4th of October in 2018. So far, the experience is quite good.

Question: What do you like about your work?

Answer: Work culture is pretty good here because a good amount of freedom is given to the faculties so that they can work. There is no restriction that you have to come by 9 and leave by 5. That’s not a very good culture for research work. If you want to do research you need to be flexible with the faculties regarding their in time and out time.

Question: There is always a group of students or a certain student that are difficult to deal with. What is your approach to them?

Answer: What I generally do is I ask those groups whether they are able to understand the topic or not. There are mainly two reasons responsible for the disturbance, either student knows the topic beforehand or he/she is not able to understand. If it is in between then I ask them to leave the class. So that’s my approach. If they have some issues in understanding then they can ask.

Question: The juniors told me that your course has zero attendance policy. What are your thoughts on mandatory attendance?

Answer: Mandatory attendance policy is made considering student’s benefit. DAIICT is a university so whatever is covered in class becomes the syllabus. Faculty also tends to give problems related to the topics that he is covering in class. So if a student comes regularly in the class then he/she can do well. In Summer, I took a course and at that time I kept attendance policy because I wanted them to get some good marks, at least the passing marks, and I kept some percent weightage of attendance in grading. But for this course (EL 103), I thought students are new to the campus, it is their first year and first semester, so if they feel like they know the topic to be taught in class, they do not need to attend the class, they can directly give the exam so that’s why I don’t keep mandatory attendance but it often happens that people who regularly attend the class get good marks.

Question: What message would you like to give to the students inclined towards Computer Science to remain motivated towards your subject?

Answer: It is mainly because, in India, we don’t have these electronics manufacturing jobs and the job aspects are good in Computer Science as there are so many IT companies that give good packages too. Unless students drive into electronics by doing some good projects in electronics, the situation will not be better. It may happen that a student is quite interested in a particular project then he can think of opening some start-up based on that and get employed through electronics. Such things would make the situation better.

Question: Will you tell us something about your student life?

Answer: I completed my B.Tech from West Bengal Institute of Technology and I used to go there from home every day so I did not stay in the hostel during my B.Tech, but after completing B.tech I got into IIT Mandi for MS research. I started my hostel life, or say a proper college life, there. I joined there in the first batch of research, there we had to fulfill our course requirements and as there were not many faculties over there so we had to handle a few classes of juniors too. So for the tutorial, it was like 120 students were there in a class and one person was handling them and conducting their tutorials. The kind of tutorial I used to take was like an exam but a discussion was allowed. That is, students could do group discussions as well as they were free to ask questions to me but they had to write in the exam and those papers were evaluated. So this duty of a teaching assistant created a kind of extra burden than our own courses. But in the hostel life, it was a good thing that as it was a new institute everyone knew each other, for example, in our case the director was always available. So anytime we could approach him and get our problem sorted with his help. Then after two and a half years of this research, I converted to a Ph.D. there, in between I did one internship in Samsung Research Institute, Noida. After conversion to Ph.D. initially, life was similar to the starting of the MS research course because in Ph.D. also you are supposed to do some courses and at the end of the Ph.D., you need to publish research papers based on your research. So, during the ending, you will get frustrated if you don’t publish because depending on that you are given the doctorate degrees.

Question: How devoted were you to studies during your student life?

Answer: During BTech, I felt the topics were very interesting. The four years of BTech curriculum is very short. In these four years, you have to do a lot of things. Lots of courses. Lots of labs. After BTech, I found that each topic in itself is a separate course. BTech is just an abstract view of engineering. After BTech, frankly speaking, I thought I didn’t know anything. Because so many things were there to grasp. I came to know only an overview of things. In my MS, I started to explore new things. In a masters degree, you do some specialization. Whatever topics you like, you can study that more and start doing some research.

Question: What is one important habit that you developed during your college life that you think everyone should develop?

Answer: One habit? So, I don’t want to impose any habit from me to anybody else. It depends from person to person. But I still personally feel that it is physical exercise; which I still do not do (laughter). If you can wake up early in the morning, you should do that if possible.

Question: What was the most memorable moment of your academic life?

Answer: It was when I got my first publication and when I defended my thesis.

Question: Do you think there could be some changes to make DAIICT a better institute?

Answer: Here computing devices are not so good, is what I feel. If computing devices, which the institute has, improve, the research work becomes easier. Nowadays, Machine Learning based research work requires good GPUs. So better computing devices will help in more research productivity.
Academically, I feel the curriculum is at par with the IITs. No problem there.

Question: What are the qualities of an ideal student according to you?

Answer: In electronics and electrical we consider everything as ideal, but students are never ideal. So, when I was a student, I used to study what the teacher or the faculty had taught. I used to read that only. I referred to books only to solve some problems. But during my BTech, it was not like that. The syllabus and the question paper was set by the universities, which is not the case here. Whatever is covered in the classes is the syllabus here. But in my case, if the faculty is not able to complete the syllabus, I used to read extra from books. So, it was difficult. It again depends on the individual how to do things.
As a good student, if you don’t like a topic, at least don’t make noise. You may feel the topic is boring. There is a lot of variation in the class. Some students know the topic a-priori but some don’t know. So, for those students, one needs to cover those topics even if the topics are simple. But even if you know the topic don’t disturb the class.

Question: What according to you is most important, the lecture notes, the slides or the books given in the PDC folder?

Answer: See, lecture notes and slides are sort of equivalent. So, those two you may refer to understand the topic and from books, you can solve numerical problems. That’s what I used to tell in class.

Question: What differentiates DAIICT from other universities or students of DAIICT from other students?

Answer: I have seen IIT’s culture, I have seen other institutes’ culture from which I did my BTech. Here, the culture of DA-IICT is like an IIT. Students get all sorts of freedom in academics to choose elective courses. Also, there is a large range of electives provided here so it is really beneficial for students.

It’s really flexible as compared to other institutes, like where I did my B-Tech, there were no elective courses, you had to study everything.

Question: What should a student do to increase his/her curiosity in electronic-based projects?

Answer: We can think of ‘Reverse Engineering’ where a student dismantles everything of an electronic device and then re-assembles it. In this way, students can get lots of learnings apart from theoretical knowledge.
One can even coordinate the theoretical knowledge with reverse engineering.

Question: What should we do to promote the interest of students in clubs like EHC?

Answer: Club members can show presentations of projects on which they are working on or they can show working demos of their projects.

Also, I wish to propose reverse engineering in the BTech curriculum by including it in the EDW course.

Question: Sir, we have our annual sports fest, Concours, coming up and the question, in general, is what is your view about the sports and extracurricular activities in our college as a whole?

Answer: Yes, that’s actually very important. During my Ph.D., I used to play badminton and cricket. It releases stress and all other pains. So everybody should actually participate in sports.

Question: What are your views when extracurriculars clash with academic interests?

Answer: I think in the academic calendar these things are already there. You can always play football or cricket after your lab hours. These extracurricular activities are already included in the academic calendar. So I don’t think there is a clash between them.

Question: Do you have any message for the students who are the readers of our magazine?

Answer: ‘Whatever you want to do, do it well!’. If students do well, even in extracurricular activities then he/she can go in that direction beside their B-Tech degree. For example, if a student is good at football or cricket, he/she can always go forward in that direction or if a student is interested in projects related to electronics, or AI, machine learning or computer vision, then he/she can go further into it. If a student gets his/her paper published then also it’s very good. So ultimately whatever you are doing, you need to do well.

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