Missed opportunities and extensions….

 

There are certain weeks when the number of things that need to be accomplished are quite high and are in quick succession. And during these times if one task is delayed then like the domino effect everything is derailed from the expected timeline and then its either a request for extension or a no show or a sub-par product.

Last week was one such week. On Monday I had to discuss a certain circuit in my thesis called a comparator. The problem was the time required for the comparator to give the output. Ideally, it is zero, and in best case scenarios it’s in a few nanoseconds but the time that my comparator was taking to give a decision was in few microseconds. For all the non-electronics people out there, this situation is not good. I had a meeting with one of the professors in my group to address that issue. And that lasted for quite some time…but sadly the issue wasn’t resolved and debugging the problem continued well over the next day as well. This was the domino that derailed my timeline. As just Monday was allocated for this issue and few other tasks for the next days.

Tuesday evening I received a mail from the supervisor at NXP that I have to submit a design review of my entire project by Friday. Now design review is a document in which you have to sum up all that you have done during the entire year for the project and provide reasons for the same. So you can imagine that making such a presentation is no small task and it took the entire Wednesday (day and night) and Thursday (day) to make a few slides. But the work still wasn’t done and the D-day was upon me.

On Friday, I had a group meeting, wherein I wanted to present a calibration scheme I was working on. The scheme reduced the comparator offset. But in spite of working all night long prior to the meeting, the scheme wasn’t a complete success and I couldn’t present it. Now the worst part is that since I didn’t present, I  didn’t get the opinion of the experts in my group and my supervisor at the university doesn’t like it. I thought maybe after the meeting I can ask him a small question regarding the thesis and it is then that he tells me, ” you have missed your opportunity, I am busy right now”

It is then I realise that though it is nice to have results to present if you have a limited set of opportunities and you procrastinate on one then the need to present a better result grows and you get stuck in a sort of a loop, which is bad. This was the missed opportunity. 

The design review is still pending….and I knew that I need an extension…which I got. Right now its Sunday morning and I have finally finished my design review slides for my company supervisor. It took some time beyond my deadline but this extension helped me deliver a quality presentation. Now, let’s see what the verdict is…

 

Goodbye Sheldon Lee Cooper!!! I’ll miss you….

The final screen of the Big Bang Theory

 

There are some television shows that transcend the realm of imagination and resonate deeply with your reality.  The Big Bang theory is….was….one such show for me. Throughout its 12 seasons, I have rooted for a character that was arrogant, self-centred, impatient and almost incapable of empathy and compassion, yeah that’s right, it’s Sheldon Lee Cooper. And now that I have seen the final episode of that show, I feel somehow happy about the note on which it ended and also sad that I can no longer watch the shenanigans of all my beloved characters.

I know most of you might be familiar with the storyline but just to draw parallels let me explain. The show was based around a bunch of researchers from CalTech.  One character is ‘quirky’ to say the least, the other one is calm and tries to accommodate everyone’s wishes, the third one is short and has a sarcastic sense of humour while the fourth one is shy and sweet. Their daily discussions revolved around the trends and latest happenings in technology be it in quantum physics, engineering, astrophysics, biomedical etc. And it’s not just technology that these guys are crazy about, it’s also the exciting world of action heroes and other games and cartoons. The ups and downs that have been shown in the show start from the initial conversation about wifi, meeting new girls, dating, some creepy stuff to get the girl of your dreams, technology, research, writing papers, proving stuff, denouncing some established notions, and eventually getting your work acknowledged by the world. Now in this scenario just replace CalTech with TU Delft and you’ll have a very realistic glimpse of the life I am having here in Delft. (Minus the girls ;-))

What I most admire about the show was the quirky happy endings to each episode something that gets you all warm and happy.

In the end, I’d like to show Chuck Lorre’s last vanity card something that really got me tearing up, next to Sheldon’s acceptance speech that is……

Until the next time,

Escapism and the golden age of television

Recently, one of my favourite TV show finished its second season and the feel I got after watching it was that it was the end of that series. This made me wonder what would be my next sci-fi adventure,  something that I’d love to watch, a series that would drive the pressures of my day to day life into oblivion. Hence the title, escapism and the golden age of television.

Drawing reference from a series, The big bang theory, I think of a particular situation, a scientist makes a certain advancement in science and Sheldon gets jealous of the fact that he hasn’t been able to contribute anything concrete in quantum physics.

The big bang theory conversation from season 7 episode 20 where Sheldon is making excuses for his lack of progress in his research.

 

His excuse for not making much progress in his research is something that I am going to borrow, you know if someone accuses me of not making progress…haha!! But seriously, we do live in a golden age of television, I say this when everyone is excited to watch the next episode of Game of Thrones season 8, Star Trek discovery just finished its second season, The Big bang theory is about to finish with its season 12 (after which I’ll miss watching Sheldon’s quirks ) and many more.

Its always exciting to share in the exploits of these characters, a way to live vicariously especially if at times life gets a bit dreary. This is one such time for me, my thesis is in full swing but I have been at it for quite some time and the mind now craves a bit of distraction.

So my current blog is all about the various series that I and my friends are watching, for escaping the world of MOSFETs, resistors and data converters, especially when we can see EWI, even from our homes.

 

And here goes, the list is an eclectic mix of Sci-fi, anime, drama, mystery and comedy.
(Just to clarify, web series, TV series are all the same and no distinction between them is done )

  1. The big bang theory: for nerds like me
  2. One Piece: A world of drama, adventures, mystique and a journey to acquire the one piece.
  3. Game of Thrones: Need I say anything?
  4. Avatar: the last air bender: I like this one, the story of Aang to bring balance and defeat the dark Fire Lord of the Fire Kingdom.
  5. The legend of Korra: Continuation from the last Air bender this is the story about the next avatar.
  6. Agents of Shield: Coulson rock!!!
  7. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will Smith
  8. Flash
  9. House of Cards; I wish I could be this tactful. This is an unfolding drama of power and its ruthless acquisition.
  10.  Suits
  11. Orange is the new black
  12. Umbrella Academy
  13. Titans
  14. Gotham: you know the city that Joker loves to target
  15. Doom Patrol: another show from DC
  16. Star war Clones:  an old relic from the time of Cartoon Network (when I used to watch it, I mean)
  17. Black mirror
  18. Family guy

Frankly, the list is quite long, so let’s just conclude for now….its time for me to watch the next GoT episode

 

Thesis: you dont just do it, you live in it!!!

I know the title seems a bit ominous…..but yeah that’s what a master’s students life is in his second year in Microelectronics. So let me tell you what exactly am I doing on the 15th floor of EWI, where my desk is. I work in the Precision Analog group of the Electronic Instrumentation laboratory. The Precision Analog group has researchers working on sensors, amplifiers and data converters and much more. My thesis is on a ‘programmable temperature switch’.

This is Elektrotechniek, Wiskunde en Informatica building (meaning Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science in Dutch) and is known as EWI.

A Programmable temperature switch is a circuit in which you will be able to detect a specific set of temperatures (which can be programmed even after the chip has been fabricated). And once the device detects that the specified temperature is reached it gives an indication of the same.

So the procedure in the thesis is generally that you have some specifications for your circuit and then according to the things that are required you begin shaping your circuit. For each choice that you make must have a certain justification, a motivation if you will. And each choice will also have a certain tradeoff, just to cite an example, I want to minimize a certain bug in my circuit and the possible solution is to increase the current flowing through the circuit, but my specification also tells me to keep my power consumption and error as low as possible. This is a tradeoff because to minimize my error I am increasing my power consumption. And the fun part or the tedious part depends on how you perceive it, you take these decisions to complete your design.

And this is exactly where you enter the loop. After doing a certain modification you wonder if I can further improve the circuit by making another modification to some other parameter and vallah one thing improves but the other might deteriorate. And now you start to quell this new fire. Well, this is what’s happening to me right now.

So, here am I, on a Friday evening, at home, staring at my screen trying to modify one more parameter to see if my overall system performance improves and hoping that all will be well. This was the same thing I was doing yesterday, modifying a parameter to better my system. Like an infinite loop!!! 

Link to Precision Analog webpage: https://ei.tudelft.nl/Research/theme.php?id=35

Writing your Statement of Purpose: Part IV

Image from crunchprep.com

This is the last blog in the writing your SOP series. Until this point, I have explained how I introduced myself in the initial paragraph, what were my motivations to go for the graduate program in circuit design, how I related my previous experiences be in academics with my choice of Analog circuit design. Now in this blog, I will explain my choice of research projects, proposed ME thesis project and will link all the previous paragraphs will the academic curriculum and research group at TU Delft. (This is the same group where I am currently doing my research on Temperature switch. But that’s something for another blog.)

WARNING: Please do not copy or use any content from the SOP as universities have plagiarism software and any reproduction can be easily detected and it might result in some unsavoury consequences.

Sixth paragraph:

Well, in the paragraph containing my research projects, I tried to focus on those projects which I felt were related to microelectronics. The projects are a mix of embedded and circuit design projects. Truthfully speaking, I had a bit of inclination towards embedded systems as well and that’s why I included these projects.  In hindsight, I believe I could have stressed more on the circuit design aspect of the project on swarm robotics and how I developed an interest in data converters. Because that would have been more appropriate to the field that I am now working in ie. Analog design.

Seventh paragraph:

This paragraph was included because the university had instructed to include a possible thesis project in the SOP. This paragraph is something that I had in my mind when I thought what my research project would be. I know this sounds a bit whimsical but yeah, I was full of drive and ambition, and I wanted to work on something that was a limitation in my earlier projects. I do realise that what I proposed is not possible but I didn’t know the tradeoff’s back then.  I know better now. !!!

 

Eighth paragraph:

Now, this is the paragraph where I have mentioned all the courses that I liked being offered at the university.  Also, I went on to explain why I wanted those subjects. I also wrote the projects and the research group I wanted to work on.  This part not only showcases my desire to be a part of TU Delft and that I am willing to comb through all the material available online and try to come to an informed choice about my possible work here. Also to stress that I am trying to get and study the relevant background required for the courses, I did the courses mentioned at the end. You will notice that I didn’t include any particular professor, but all the projects mentioned were from the group of Prof. Kofi Makinwa, under whose supervision I am doing my master’s thesis.

Ninth paragraph:

The final concluding paragraph where I try to relay my desire to be a part of the research community here at Tu Delft.

Well, I hope this series of SOP writing has given you insight into what I was thinking while I was writing my SOP for TUDelft. Hope it helps!!!

Writing your Statement of purpose: Part III

 

In the previous blog, I explained how I wrote the introductory paragraph and then how I narrowed my choice from circuit design to analog circuit design. In this blog, I intend to explain how I showcased my academic curriculum and projects.

WARNING: Please do not copy or use any content from the SOP as universities have plagiarism software and any reproduction can be easily detected and it might result in some unsavoury consequences.

Third paragraph:

Here, I wanted to showcase my favourite subjects to give an indication of my choices regarding electronics. When I had finished my Bachelors, I was very interested in developing completed products and not just prototypes of an idea. That’s why I was fascinated with EPD and ESED. The paragraph goes on to show the aspects of product design I liked/learnt and the references I used. It also shows the fields where I wanted to work. This is relevant because the projects that I undertook in my third and fourth year during bachelors are related to IoT and were products meant for the market with proper casing etc.

As can be seen from the last line which says that I would like to work on something, the next progression will be the projects that I worked on, which made use of the skills I learnt through EPD.

Fourth paragraph:

The paragraph shows what the motivation for my project was along with what the project was. The project was a product that addressed a need, something that I wanted to do, as I explained in the third paragraph. Now, just writing what I did isn’t good, I then explained what I learnt in designing this product. The concepts that I learnt are important because all have a relation with the subjects that I wanted to study at TU Delft.

Fifth paragraph:

The fifth paragraph is similar to the fourth paragraph as it explains my final year project of my bachelors and then goes on to explain the different aspects of the project. The final line in the paragraph which is not showcased here explains that this project was liked by a company where I later went on to work.

As mentioned in the first paragraph, academics (projects and curriculum) and robotics competition have been discussed.  R&D projects still need to be discussed and how all these things are relevant for admission to TU Delft needs to be explained. These topics will be discussed in the upcoming blog.

Writing your Statement of Purpose: Part II

 

In the last blog, we saw that things that were needed to write a statement of purpose (SOP), in this blog I am going to share my SOP and explain what was I thinking when I wrote it. The idea is that explaining my SOP will give you insight into how I wrote it and what was the content that I focused on while writing it.

A few points that I followed while writing my SOP are

  1. Not to make my SOP into a paragraph version of my resume
  2.  The SOP was like a story I was telling and the continuity and the flow had to be very logical and without anything missing.
  3. After explaining why I have chosen to do my MSc in microelectronics, I wanted to explain why my choice was TU Delft. That includes the various courses and projects that they have in my department. (This is where the questions mentioned in the previous post come into the picture.)
  4. I wanted to end my SOP with the university’s motto. (For the extra flair.)

 

WARNING: Please do not copy or use any content from the SOP as universities have plagiarism software and any reproduction can be easily detected and it might result in some unsavoury consequences.

First paragraph:

Since this is the first paragraph I am introducing myself in a nutshell. The first line is a bit philosophical but when you compare it with the last line of the paragraph it shows that the philosophy is the guiding force in my choice of a field for graduation. Also, you can see that I have mentioned Robotics competition, R&D projects and subjects, so then the next paragraph should shed some light on what I have said. Hence the second paragraph is on the robotics competition as it shaped my view about circuits.

Second paragraph:

This paragraph explains what I did in the robotics competition and what I learnt through it about circuit designing. This showcases the skills that a student is required to possess while joining my course i.e. Microelectronics. The idea when I wrote it was to explain why the competition shaped my views of circuit designing through various experiences.

I still haven’t explained my academic background and R&D projects, which will come in the next paragraphs in the upcoming blog.

 

 

 

Writing your Statement of Purpose: Part I

Applications to a graduate school generally require you to submit grades for some eligibility exams along with letters of recommendation (LOR) and the statement of purpose (SOP). In this plethora of documents, only the SOP affords you the chance to explain yourself, your motivations to apply for the program, your experience of various job assignments and internships and more importantly how everything links to your current decision to apply to that particular university. With this in mind, it makes sense to write your SOP with great care. In this post, I will try to highlight what preparation is required to write an SOP and in the upcoming post, I will discuss the actual format.

A brief understanding of the admission process: Normally when you submit your documents on the portal, your eligibility is decided according to standard cutoff scores of exams like GRE or TOEFL/IELTS or your CGPA. For example, many colleges in Europe and the US check if you have a GRE score of around 315, TOEFL score of 80+ out of 120 and some CGPA requirement. These are just ballpark figures and each college outlines their requirements in the admissions criteria. Also, a weighting factor is multiplied to your CGPA based on your undergrad university to make the grading uniform across applicant countries/regions. Once you meet all these criteria, your LORs and SOP are sent to the specific department where you have applied. It is now that the admissions committee reads your profile description/assessment by your faculty and then your motivation. The committee is keen to know if you can learn and manage the tough curriculum and do you have the required skillset. So in your SOP, you have to convince the committee why you are a suitable candidate for the program.

Now that you have an idea of the process, these are the points that need to be thought of before you get down to writing your SOP
1. Which program do you want to apply for?
2. Why only that particular course?
3. Why this particular college/ university? How do you connect to their culture and ideology?
4. Do you have any experience relevant to your field of study? if you have, explain how it contributes to your decision.
5. What are your expectations from both the graduate program and the university?
6. Do you have any particular project or professor in mind, under whom you would like to work at the university? Also, explain why that particular project.
7. What skills make you unique and enable you to participate in the above-stated project/lab?
8. Do you have any shortcoming like a poor score that needs to be explained
9. Sometimes the university might also ask you to provide an idea for your thesis and explain it.

Once you have the answers to these questions, you can easily frame your SOP.

Choosing a college for post-graduation…

 

Choosing a college is one of the most important steps towards your dream of a Masters degree. It is a quite time-consuming process of considering various factors and finalizing a university to study in. The following are a few points that can be considered while choosing your dream college.

  1. Choose the best destination for the field of your study.

    Now that you know what you intend to study, finding a place which is the best in that particular field is pretty simple. You can generally get the college names based on their rankings in a particular field on websites like QS rankings (https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings) or Times Now rankings (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings). The main aim here isn’t to choose a college based on just ranking but to get a general idea of which college is better in which field. Another method to find out the prominent colleges in your field of interest is to see the publications in that field and you can see which colleges are contributing extensively in that area.

  2. Budget and Finances.

    Now that you have a tentative list of universities, a choice of universities depends on the budgetary allocation you can make for your graduate studies. Finances can either be obtained through personal savings, family savings or through loans from various financial institutions.  Now understand that you have to take a holistic view of the financial outlay. Consider both the cost of tuition, the funds required for your daily living expenses and also the ease at which you will be able to recover your investment. The last part is important because admission to some colleges might require less expenditure on your part but also see the employment prospects after college. So essentially its the return on investment along with the investment, that needs to be considered.

  3. Curriculum, projects and research.

    After narrowing down your list of possible college choices based on the field of study and finances, look into the specifics of the course you want to study. What are the eligibility requirements for that college/course? What is the curriculum? What is the availability of those courses? How hard is the curriculum? Apart from these questions take a look at the various laboratories on campus.  Take into account the various projects under the different faculty members at the university. Special requirements, if any, to join these projects also must be taken into account. Last but not least, your own ability to make the efforts that are expected of you for completing your course must also be factored in while choosing a college.

  4. Eligibility requirements.

    Though this has been mentioned earlier, eligibility requirements for a college can be segregated into language requirements, academic requirements and financial requirements. Finances have already been taken care of in condition 2. Language is an important requirement as some countries demand a certain level of language proficiency be it English or a regional language and hence this may take some time to meet if you have to learn a new language from scratch. Colleges in the USA and Europe, in general, ask for English proficiency test (Tests like TOEFL and IELTS are used). While some colleges in Germany also require proficiency in German and offer courses on the language along with your regular courses. Apart from language requirements, you have academic requirements which include the validity of your undergrad degree to pursue a post graduation at that university and if that condition is met they may have a specific score/CGPA/Percentage requirement as well.

    The above-mentioned points are just the major concerns while choosing your university, they are by no means comprehensive. Other concerns can be regarding the weathers conditions, post-education scenario, scholarship opportunities or ability to augment your resources with a side job and many more. A possible approach to redress these questions is to scan the university website regarding them. You can also contact various alumni of that institute to gain further insight into the college of your consideration. You also have college days and masters promotion events that happen in colleges to provide information.

    These are a few other links where you can find information and help you to come to a decision
    1.  https://www.mastersportal.com/articles/336/10-important-criteria-when-choosing-your-masters-abroad.html
    2. https://www.wikihow.com/Choose-a-Master%27s-Program
    3. https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/choosing-university/dos-donts-when-choosing-postgraduate-degree

 

 

To do or not to do (a Master’s), is the question!!

‘Crossroad’, a state in which every Bachelor’s student is in during these months…. a period when companies come to campus advertising employment opportunities and also the time when universities across various parts of the globe accept applications for their Master’s program. And here lies the conundrum, whether to opt for an exhilarating and lucrative job opportunity or to embark on a rigorous journey in the world of academia, improving your knowledge and grasp of things.

There is no right answer here, between both these choices. A decision to opt for either of them is a culmination of various social factors and individual priorities. Securing a job will let you apply the things that you have learnt during your previous studies. At the same time, you get exposure to various new techniques and methods that are used in the industry. Not to mention, that now you have a steady income in your bank account. An industry setting also requires you to be socially active and brush up on your verbal and non-verbal skills. Leading to an overall improvement in technical, financial and social conditions. Though it must be noted that the rate of growth is heavily dependent on your performance and the company you are working in.

Higher education, on the other hand, will let you explore the myriad ways of implementing a certain functionality or analyzing it. Be it through making improvements into the current method or by designing completely new methods, the sole point of your higher education is to develop a critical attitude that will help in analyzing and synthesizing things. During these 2 years, financial investment along with hard work is required. But the rewards that follow are worth the effort. It will involve situations where you will be deliberating on a particular topic and you have to propose and implement changes that you think will yield better performance. In this process of formulating and implementing the changes that you desire, one must be aware of the pro’s and con’s of each modification and how it affects the final result.

The following are a few questions that one should consider while making a decision regarding higher education vs employment:

  1. Do you know what you want to do?
  2. Are more inclined to a research-based setting or do you want a more hands-on approach?
  3. Are you willing to spend resources on education or do you want to earn?
  4. Are you interested in detailing a certain project to its smallest nuances, trying to understand how it works and what can be improved?
  5. Are you focused and disciplined enough to formulate your questions and implement its solution?

The questions are only meant for you to gauge your inclination. Higher education is on the cards for you if you prefer an academic setting along with a critical mind. A word of caution, you must be committed enough to follow your decision till its conclusion.

In the choice between higher education and employment, there can be a scenario when you can’t make the decision,  you are undecided. In such a circumstance you can always opt for employment, gain some experience and insight into what you want and then maybe go for higher education. Because it’s never too late to learn!!!