Held during the summer every year, the camp enrolls around 60 sophomore students, from various colleges throughout India that offer a course of civil-engineering at under-graduate level. Civil engineering being
a course necessarily demanding high levels of intellect, work hardship, and the drive to take challenges face-on, students for this camp are selected on the basis of their overall academic, co-curricular and extra-curricular record of their school and young college days.
Siddharth says, “I definitely did not have something I would call a ‘great’ academic record. I was a good student, but never a top-dog. I had always made sure that I was an all-rounder in terms of sports and arts, which paid off handsomely, in the form of my selection into this summer-camp, an experience of a life-time. I met people of grades higher than mine, and some of them far lower. In the first couple of days, it gave me a slight complex of inferiority, but when the end of the glorious days came, I was more than proud of myself. All that really mattered was the person I had built out of myself, in spite of a bunch of friends doing amazingly well academically around me. The camp taught me more about myself, my inner self, probably more because, this was the first time I was cut-off from my real
neighborhood, altogether for a month!” On being asked what was the course and objective of the workshop, he answers, “
The main objective of the workshop was to train students for actual work of a civil engineer which he is to become in his immediate future. Prime focus was on elucidating expert projects around the world, their construction techniques, material selection, geometry et al. The hows and whys behind successful structures were explained to us in meticulous detail. We were shown presentations with original pictures from these building sites so as to furnish us with practical details. Besides these informative sessions, we were also exposed to vigorous exercise so as to make us fit for the last one-week camp, when we would go visiting sites near and around IIT Delhi. The toughest part was the 15 kilometer run that we were to take up everyday, around the IIT Kanpur campus. Yes, Everyday! ”
More about his encounters he says, “In Kanpur, there is probably more life on the IIT campus, than in the entire city. Once outside the campus you are bound to be lost in a village with scarcely any facilities. The best of hotels, hospitals, theatres, libraries… all are in fact within the walls of the huge campus. For us, therefore, never came up the need to try and explore beyond those limits. And moreover, the campus in itself needed so much time to be explored, that the thought of crossing borders failed to occur. We had tight schedules for more than 14 hours everyday that included talks, lectures and presentations relating to major constructional experiments and feats from around the globe. Mega-structures were reduced to plain simple words. Everyday was a new world, a new wonder when we got to know those structures were made by people very much like what we would be in our forthcoming years. All in all, it was a good learning period.”
We also asked Siddharth how it was mingling with such diversity, youngsters from so many distinct personalities belonging to different cultures and with dissimilar mindsets. He says he was more than happy meeting so many kinds of people. “Initially,” he says, “I thought it would be a boring month. I was sure I would get bored with these people. Or at least I would end up having differences with most of my groupies. But as it was one week past, we got so attached to each other that it felt like a long friendship already. Towards the end of the workshop we could hardly believe the month was getting over! Our coordinators were seniors, M. Tech. students, and they actually ragged us, it was fun though. They made us dance, sing, act like old movie stars, and forced us to watch movies till late nights and early mornings. Though it felt tiring then, peeping back into those memories today, I know of the deep togetherness that ragging brought about. It feels like the best way to get rid of the communication gap, and therefore build a stronger team. As days passed team leaders seemed cheerfully ready to assist us in every possible way, making things much easier than in their absence.”
On being asked what was/ were his best favorite moments during the one-month long workshop, he says he enjoyed the sports sessions most. They had compulsory sports everyday during evenings to make certain of their physical well-being for the last one week site visits, in Delhi. Also the informal sessions that they held as the last thing everyday, he says, were energizing. The ‘civil-engineering’ part of the whole camp was more like a side-effect. The camp reminded us at every point, that we were individuals first, and civil-engineers next. It also pointed to us at every point that as civil engineers, it is barely sufficient that we mug up notes and top
examinations. What was more important is creativity and innovation that comes only to well-rounded personalities than to book-worms. Having been a part of this workshop, I no longer considered my weak grades a sufficient remark against my skill and aptitude to stand as a successful civil engineer. I am proud of myself today. Those were the best days of my life till now.” Also he speaks about a student from the north that couldn’t stand the extreme climate as opposed to that in his birth place and took ill within the first couple of days. But then, he took it up as a challenge than looking at it as a problem, and proved to be one of the most punctual, obedient students and inspired the rest with his astounding performance throughout the camp.
Thus ended, our conversation with Siddharth, a 3/4 B.E.(Civil Engineering) student of MVSREC. It was overwhelming getting to know of this wonderful experience of his, in his words. This camp is organized every year, and invitations are sent to only a few privileged institutions all-over India. The official website of IIT Kanpur announces the summer-camp well in advance. So, civil engineers around, keep an eye on it, who knows, you might be the next one sharing another electrifying episode with us next year!