The 1st Day: 2 Students and Shivalik
My first day as a student of IIT Delhi was on July 21, 2011. It was the day I got enrolled for MS(R) in Biochemical Engg. and Biotechnology at IITD, received my Entry Number: 2011BEY7538, and came to know that there were just 2 students in my program. A huge induction program was organized in the Dogra Hall (a ginormous auditorium, with an arced stage and double storey sitting arrangement. As a matter of fact, all major events in IIT are organized in two places only: Dogra Hall and OAT (Open Air Theatre)). Post induction, we were supposed to submit the GATE score card in original alongwith the copies of 10th, 12th and B.Tech marksheets, and the migration certificate issued by the latest institute attended. While I was submitting the documents, I was really in a state of subconscious shock to realize that I was going to study the MS(Research) program with just one classmate, a girl from Amity, Noida. Neverthless, my fate was already sealed, and I accepted it with both hands open.
On the same day, we were assigned to our respective hostels. The hostel I got was: Shivalik Hostel (one of the oldest hostel in IIT, yet one of the most well maintained ones 🙂 ). To my good luck, I got the room on Ground Floor, East Block (East block is nearest to the entry of the hostel). My room number was EA5. The room was supposed to be a single seater, but there were two beds in the same (with hardly any space to move) to accomodate the huge demand. For the time being, there was no one in the room, so I grabbed the bed adjacent to the window of the room 😉
My classes were supposed to begin on July 25th, 2011, so I decided to move back to my home in Punjab to enjoy the remaining few days of my ‘Education-Free’ life 😛
My Experiences at Department of Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology, IIT Delhi
The Classroom Paradox
My first ‘academic’ day at IIT Delhi was on Monday, July 25th, 2011. The first class that I was supposed to attend was of “Microbial and Enzyme Technology”. I was expecting a sophisticated classroom with some sort of Projector and digital instruments for teaching aid, but what I found out upon entering the class was in stark contrast to my imagination-The classroom was like a typical old age school, with a “Black Board” and “Chalk sticks” to write with. A duster was placed on the table in front of the blackboard. Short wooden chairs were there to sit upon for each student as well (it was identical to my school days and I got more nostalgic than disappointed to see such a class in the best institute of the country.) That’s when I realized that IITs are actually famous for their quality of teaching and not for the quality of sitting arrangement/tables/chairs/dusters. They still produce the best in class students by following the conventional methods of teaching through optimal use of resources. The class started at sharp 8:00 am (I wondered if I would have to face that for all 2 years 😛 ), and Dr. Ravikrishnan (a cool, young Assistant Professor, with extremely amicable behaviour) introduced himself as our teacher for the course (CLICK HERE) to read his profile. We were just 8 students in total (6 of them were PhDs). I was relieved that at-least the strength of the class won’t be scanty.
Subjects we were supposed to follow
As a part of the requirement of MS(Research) program, a student is expected to go through “1 semester” course work and “3 semester” project work. It was actually a really good provision of the curriculum. Reason–“being a research based program, there needs to be more emphasis on ‘actual research’ than theoretical comprehensions”. So, overall there were just 6 subjects we were supposed to enrol for the requirement of our degree course (5 of which we finished with in 1st semester only and left the 6th one for 2nd semester). But there was no obligation on students to “DO ALL RESEARCH AND NO STUDY”. A student was given enough flexibility to enrol for ANY Course in ANY Department of the institute to satiate his/her learning appetite. I did study an extra course in 3rd semester as well 🙂 and that did help me a lot.
Following are the subjects I studied in IITD:
A. Advances in Biochemical Engineering ( Mandatory)
B. Microbial and Enzyme Technology (Mandatory)
C. Microbial Biochemistry (Mandatory)
D. Downstream Processing (Mandatory)
E. Practicals in Biochemistry (Mandatory)
F. Plant Cell Technology (I chose this subject, to complete my credit requirements. A student can choose one subject out of the six required courses. 5 of then as I mentioned above are mandatory to enrol for)
G. Bioprocess Plant Design (I enrolled for this course in 3rd semester. It was a totally voluntary decision, even though I had completed all my course requirements. It was a wonderful experience to study this subject indeed.)
The Rafting Experience
Before we share my academic experience further, let’s share some light memories of a wonderful adventure trip I shared with my Seniors (PhDs) at IIT Delhi in May 2012. We went to Rishikesh for White Water Rafting and Trekking trip. We had hired a service provider from Rishikesh (a week before the trip) for all the arrangements of the stay. We were total 9 people , joined by 3 more of our friends in Rishikesh.
Rafting through the huge rapids of river Ganga was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! After rafting, we stayed in the Canvas tents and enjoyed bonfire! It seemed more like a dream but I was lucky and ecstatic having lived those moments.
Highlights of the Trip:
The Canvas Tents and the Bonfire
The tents were at the top of a hill (right on the banks of Ganga). One could have a view of the scattered lights of the houses of the inhabitants in the area around from the point of our stay. One tent could accommodate 2 people, and amazingly it had an attached bathroom as well 😀 The beds were provided with super-soft mattress and pillows 🙂 The service we had hired included “Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” as well (apart from the sight seeing, guide, volley ball, body surfing and rafting service) for a cost of Rs 2050 per head for 1 night 2 day stay. I have posted a Pic of the tents right below.
I wish we could have managed to click some photographs while we cruised through the huge rapids of river Ganga, but the flow and jumps of the raft were so fast and wavy that we didn’t manage a single photograph of those moments (it isn’t recommended either for the safety). Below are some pics of the moments when we just started the rafting journey.
‘The sand at the bank of the river was no less than the beach experience. We enjoyed beach volleyball, buddy chase and lots of photo-sessions there as well 😉
Some moments before the body surfing experience.. 🙂
Though I haven’t posted any pic of our trek (I have plenty of them), the experience was awesome. We cruised through the jungle near our camp tearing apart the bushes and thorns on the way, jumping down the dry terrain and stones, and reached a waterfall (a mini waterfall rather) in the scorching heat of those summers. It was a boon for us having sweated all the way during the trek and panting out of the heat and thirst. We bathed in the waters, climbed some rocks around the waterfall (don’t try unless you are trained and confident enough; and have a guide around! 😉 ) and enjoyed to the fullest.
The Major Project Experience
In the month of January 2012 (Starting of second semester), we were provided with the list of over 20 projects available under different faculty members of DBEB (Department of Biochemical Engg and Biotech). As we were just 2 students in the department, there was very very scarce chance of conflict of interest in choosing the project of choice. The best part was that my interest was in Bioprocess Engineering, whereas my classmate’s interest was in Molecular Biology, so we were like North and South pole with no conflicts at all (in choosing the project)! I decided to work under Dr. AK Srivastava (CLICK HEREfor his profile) on the project titled , “Scale-up studies on A. indica cell cultivation for mass production of bio-pesticides”.
About my project:
Duration: January 2012 – July 2013
The project was aimed at developing a strategy to scale-up the A.indica suspension cultivation process from 3L Bioreactor to a 15L Bioreactor system. Theoretical study of the scale-up parameters was done to hypothesize the possible valid parameters that could successfuly scale-up the process. The hypothesized parameters were tested by experimental analysis of growth and production regimes of A.indica suspension in 15L bioreactor. Performance of 15L system was compared to the 3L system to finally validate the successful scale-up strategy.
3L Applikon Stirred Tank Bioreactor, 15L Applikon Stirred Tank Bioreactor, HPLC, 3000L Horizontal Autoclaving Unit etc
More to come in this article:
a. The Famous “Sassi K Paraanthe” and Amul Kiosk
b. Being the Editor of DBEB et al.
c. My Placement Experience