Sunday, February 8, 2009

Brief History of Assignment-writing

After Hari Shankers release of the Bootstrap Video (worth a watch), I couldnt help but revive some of the old college memories again. An NITC version of how the Art of assignment writing has evolved through the ages.

Year : 1
Scenario : Any assignment

Anyone knows that the students are at their most dumbest studious best in the first year at college. Thats when the teachers scares of "No copying..." and "Plagiarisation will be severely punished" are at their most effective. The select brilliant few, who realise that assignments are just another useless routine in Engineering, wait for the remaining to toil it out and make their original copies.

Original copies are about 40-50 % of the total submitted. The remaining 50% even is well-modified by the poor copying soul who imagines what his life will be if a professor sits and compares his assignment to that of the class topper. Sometimes, grammatical mistakes are purposely introduced to make the paper look like a genuine copy (excuse the pun)

Year : 2
Scenario : ECT assignment 5

The whole class is dumbfounded on how to attack the assignment. Original copies are so far zero. The only hope is the God of S3 EEE, Sheddy (expanded as S.Kumar Reddy), who is rumoured to be the only one who understood Electric Circuit Theory after Einstein and Newton. The submission date is 24 hours away.

Unknown sources rumour that the God has come up with an original creation. Photostats are flying around B hostel, with a familiar neat and clear handwriting that could only belong to Him who hath understood all (in ECT). Soon a tree structure of copying is developed - the original, situated around the B-220 area, spreads its copies through multiple individuals, whose assignment copies (literally, copies) are then taken to rooms B-218, 312, 304, and and so on. Some of the copy centres are located in the common room, where 6 people at once can copy an assignment.

Next day : No one missed the submission. 67 guys submitted the exact same copy of Sheddy's assignments in their own handwritings, without understanding a shit in ECT. Abru, truly desperate, submitted a Xerox copy of the original Sheddy assignment and added his own name!

Result : The professor sure as hell found out. He knew where the original was, that sly fox. A mention was made in class, but the true revenge was taken in the Sessionals exam, when most of the questions came from the assignment mentioned.

65 guys failed the sessionals, with the class average 4 out of 20 (thats 20%). The only one (apart from Sheddy ofcourse) who managed to rummage a double digit figure was Naren (11 on 20). Myself hit rock bottom with life's worst performance ever : 2 on 20.

Year : 3
Scenario : Control systems assignment

The protocol of assignment copying has been established. The mechanism is now almost polished. Originals for the CS assignment come from 3 sources : E-hostel (where God resides), LH (where the second topper Donna resides), and one from anywhere in C tops or D bottoms.

My (and Donnas) job as Class Reps, meanwhile, is to extend the deadline by any means possible. Not so easy. Techniques ranging from Oscar award winning acting performances to short story telling has to be employed.

Next day : First 2 hours in S5 EEE class are exceptionally silent. All the students seem to be studiously taking down notes. Only a closer observation by a prof would reveal that the 'notes' were being taken down on sheets of A4 paper, and had the curious words 'Assignment' written on them . Luckily, the deadline is extended by a few hours (whew) to 5 pm. By 4 pm, the whole class is busy writing away whatever sheets they may find. Needless to say, there are a lot of submission entries at 5 pm.

No one missed the deadline, again.

Year : 4
Scenario : Instrumentation Systems (IS)

IS (no pun) was truly the most useless subject in EEE. The IS assignment deadline is on Friday, but not a soul is aware of it, including the (ahem) supposedly-well-informed Class Rep, yours truly.

9 am : News arrives from prof that the deadline is Friday(today) noon 3 pm. Number of original copies in EEE: One.

Technology is immediately put to use. The branch scanner, located in F-318 (Burghu's room), is used to scan Donna's original assignment onto F-Lan. Thereby, the procedure is simple. Download from Burghu's comp (which also stores other, ahem, interesting stuff). Copy onto A4 sheet. Meanwhile, my job is to inform the branch that an original has been scanned onto the LAN, and all students in S8-EEE are to immediately copy the assignment before 2.50 pm and submit to my room.

2.55 pm : There are 67 copies of the same assignment lying in my room.
3 pm : I rush. Assignment deadline is met.

No one missed the deadline. No one ever does. And yea, anyone mention the word Plagiarism ? Where would we 'Engineers' be without it ?

(PS : The 'GOD' of original sources, S. Kumar Reddy, went on to top the All-India GATE examination later that year. After helping 67 electrical engineers pass out of NITC, he is currently churning out assignment originals in IISc Bangalore. )


Anon said...

"The only hope is the God of S3 EEE, Sheddy (expanded as S.Kumar Reddy), who is rumoured to be the only one who understood Electric Circuit Theory after Einstein and Newton." ROFL dude.

Have a roomie who went through the same ECT hell last sem.Assignment protocol is still the same..
Similar thing in other branches too but the ee dept profs seem to have a more than normal fascination with assignment submissions as far as i kno :D

Vinitha Vasanth said...

A cool and well written post on the art of assignment plagiarism that we engineers at NITC learn to do if not learn the subject !! And I am sure this tradition is going to continue for ages ....
Our dept's fortunate to have 5 + Gods !!! There are around 90+ devotees of these "Gods" in my year - whose "blessings" are what the devotees require prior to the assignment submission deadline :)

Hari Vishnu said...

@krik krak

hehe.. yea we poor tricals have a tough time in 2nd and 3rd year wrt assignments.. our teachers seem to love us a lot during this time :)


thnx :)..yup nitc and engineering on the whole will be like this for a very long time im sure.. u sure are lucky to have quite a few originals coming up in ur dept.. assignments wil have more variety in them from now on :)

Abhi said...

Well ithokke ille pinne enthon engineering. Seriously these things don't matter a bit in the so called CORE sector, pinne alle other areas. I don't see the application of one single assignment i wrote in the last year of my CORE job :).

Overall Nice strategy. I'd've asked you about Sheddy if you hadn't mentioned in the end. Such guys are what IIT's and IISc's are made for :D

Wetfingers said...

Dude..Mechanical Story seems a little more hilarious. From people submitting the actual xerox copies themselves. Jishnu is our legend.

Mahesh Mahadevan said...

Some legends of very committed copiers include copying name and roll number. One particular "copying" assignment that a bunch of us undertook (back in glorious days of B.Tech) was what might be called in design of experiments as half-combinatoric sequence. We worked it out to each one solving a fraction of the number of problems required per head, and deviously using a shuffle algorithm to select and sort questions and answers - it was probably so good, we'd be faculty before the faculty found exactly what we did.

Hari Vishnu said...

true ithokke alle engineering ennu parayunnathe :)

:P.. i suppose every branch and college wud have their stories to say

lol yes thats another major goofup that happens.. and lol at 'combinatorial problem' of mixing up the assignment answers.. added with other changes, they cud make life hard for a prof who truly wanted to screw up somebody

jvvas said...

Hey gr8 one man... u have put the xact situation man... it reminds me of my role as postman and photocopier and all... really mind blowing....

Anonymous said...

Hari, You did a wonderful narration, I was laughing from start to end. But nobody can beat one of my classmates, he took the assignment of another one and changed the name!!!

Those were indeed great days.

Hari Vishnu said...

lol i know.. each one in his role as creator/transmitter/copier.. in the great web of copying..

thanx :).. and kudos to ur classmate.. beating records in plagiarism.. such characters are needed for us to remember college days..

The Third Twin said...

machan u wrote an awesome depiction of the scenario.. although u missed few points.. the guy who actually writes the assignment gets 6 outta 10 while the ones copied get 9 outta 10 :) does it ring a sonorous bell? it does for me :P

The Third Twin said...

and ya not to forget the fact that we guys trying to do a reddy(or shud i say sheddy here :P) by attempting to answer questions with the collective but complimentary knowledge we obtained of ECT...finally ending up negating each other and copying from HIM :)

Hari Vishnu said...

lol man i remember that assignment marks fiasco..the 'original' getting less..somebody almost got pissed off enough to go and ask the prof why it happened so :).. and yea ofcourse, our aims of 'independence from HIS rule', around 4-5 of us sitting and trying to figure out the tutorial questions by ourselves..

nautillus said...

Eda,adipoli.Had me in splits when I was reading this.Brought back real good memories.Especially the arbu incident.And correction burghu's room is F-325.I know it doesn't matter anymore but for the sake of accuracy atleast in our memories if not the papers.I remember one assignment where burghu after scannng put in a hot picture of monica belluci as the front page and shared it on the lan.That assignment incidentally reached the LH thru someone's pen-drive.And this happened right before one of the exams that people weren't looking at the assignment they were staring at the front page..hehe..miss those fun filled days..

Hari Vishnu said...


haha ya da i remember that.. i still have those notes :).. was going thru old nitc material recently wen i found it.. it was adc notes or something..

those days in final year.. no, all years in general..werent they too good..

Hari said...

Great to know that you got inspired by my movie! :-)

Awesome post! Never knew plagiarism had such effects, even @ NITC.

And btw, I'm writing this comment from NITC WiFi using my Sony VAIO. :D

Lol, Your college rocks man! :)

Quest said...

WTH!!!! With Wi fi wen did our college become hi fi??? step motherly treatment we received :(

Hari Vishnu said...

plagiarism is omnipresent man :).. even we do it all the time... hmm so enjoying fossmeet and nitc eh.. lol thanks for the comments.. making me miss college all the more !

when it comes to fossmeet speakers we make sure even nit calicut has wifi :)

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