RSS

Tag Archives: Buffalo

My experience at the Orientation week, UB

It is one year since. This will happen one year hence. I have been lucky to have met the director of a- IIT, thanks to my previous job at CDAC, who is also UB alumni.

The name of UB spreads far and wide. How does one use it. It is not too sure in the beginning. Especially during the orientation week at UB. There is lot of fun and activities going around. Tonnes of people come to UB, esp. North Campus, and it reminds one of how empty the universities such as University of Calicut and CUSAT are. The crowd resembles that of any shopping mall. And people are pretty serious about shopping for courses.

It is so true, that even Open MOOCs like CourseEra are now paid services

Earlier what read as “My courses ” under dropdown on top right corner, now read “My purchases ”

Mypurchases

That is all right as a business model , if you are sure that you are providing services that are needed and has a market. The way of Apple and Steve J of customers not knowing what they want is limited in the educational business model. This is because of the direct link between job market and the student’s (customer) requirement.

There are a few who want to ride their own horses and make their own way. They eventually drop out of college. It was also interesting to note that an IT service provider for K12 schools came up with data analysis that predict the success of a student by analysing data on the collected database. This works best with right feedbacks and control. Great to know this !

Back to UB, this semester, I believe to see the same kind of eager crowd. Sometimes uncertain, sometimes over-confident. Free of prejudices and focus span all these groups, irrespective of the background. They all have this brightness in their face, to achieve. It is importance to keep up the face throughout this short battle of a foreign study. Whatever the reason of arrival, higher studies, better opportunities, international exposure to work and lifestyle.

I have met and talked to people from Canada, USA, Honduras, Costa Rica, Haiti, Brazil, Argentina,Spain, Germany,  Italy, Greece,Bulgaria,Turkey, Morroco, Angola, Nigeria, Gabon, Tunisia, Kenya, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Srilanka, Burma, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia,Singapore, Vietnam, S.Korea in UB. It is a great international exposure.

Events (Regular)

The best way to meet all these internationals is at International Tea Time. Make sure to keep checking

This is always kept updated. So it is beneficial to get all the benefits

During orientation it is about meeting new people, remembering names and attaching it to faces. Talking about different cultures and more essentially finding people who are taking the courses that you are interested in. I have participated in some Focus group study about orientation in UB. The officials were full of praise on how organised the Graduate Indian Students’ Association(GISA) is.  This is unlike many other nationals is what I learned. As an Indian there is this auto-tuning towards the languages you are interested in , be it Telugu , Tamil or Hindi. Then there is another group formed based on the language. I find , from this that it was so natural to have the states in India formed based on language.  Then, there is this massive orientation schedule.

Here are things to do:

  • Maintain a calendar.
  • Feed in all the sessions you need to attend = priority 1, getting a UB card – gives you access to libraries  ( Capen and Lockwood in North campus, Abbott in S. Campus) .
  • Get appointments with professors and talk to them about your areas of interest and possible research
  • Attend your department orientation – very important – to get information from professors present there
  • Go through the course offerings throughly

Talk to senior students . ( In UB ” senior ” refers to final  year bachelor’s student. the sequence is freshman – 1st yr, sophomore – 2nd yr, junior – 3rd yr, senior – 4th yr). So , I meant senior as in Indian context, those who came early to UB and are already pursued some of the courses that you want to attend. See also other department offerings. Also, see for dependencies,e.g. pre-requisite courses for the spring or next fall may be offered this fall semester.

  • Food– Feed in all the free food sessions – so you pack less food to university

When I came in there were Bagels and Coffee for the incoming students along with fruits. I did not know how to eat a Bagel or spread what seemed like cream ( cream cheese) on it.

  • Water– Bring an empty bottle /mug

UB has plenty of water fountains, it may be difficult in the beginning to drink from a water foundation , the american student way, which evolves into american way. There are water fountains everywhere in the US. If you prefer water cans, then go to

 

UB student union is the most happening place, with piano and food court with all kinds of food and coffee shops . This place is always bustling with activity , especially during orientation week.

  • Locate oven in the buildings of interest.

Oven Locations:

  • Knox hall – ground
  • Student Union – 2nd floor near intercultural diversity centre
  • Davis hall – near the elevator (lifts are called as elevator)
  • Furnas hall – if you have access to CBE dept. lounge there are 4 ovens there.
  • Friends’ lab – if you know any friend who works in a lab as PhD or MS student then chances are there will be oven in their lab. Mostly, a refrigerator and coffee maker. But be assured that there is no guarantee on the food kept in the fridge.

 

Clubs:

UB has many clubs. You get to enroll in their mailing list by visiting their respective online presence or going to the Students’ Association Office, 3rd floor, Student Union. You can also run for the office or e-board positions of interesting clubs. Eventhough you are a new student.

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One Year in USA and studies

Today marks my one year in USA. A different country, but not too different now. Thanks to the summer extension. It is not too different.

This one year and its realization has strengthened the motivation to come here, to learn and to experience, the most sought after environment of the world. The melting pot may still be hot but what kept the momentum going is the abundance of natives, Indian Indians here. So, there is this common connect, stories of the past, glorified for the present, at occasions not so welcoming for a story but passes without a pause to occupy the same. This is wonderful where we discover the art of telling stories. Pieces of life bottled and well rounded to present to native speakers in native tongue. This is cool. Besides, there is this awe-some stories of the other land presented to the native native, US Americans and other internationals who came here to Buffalo, to study and to achieve their goals. This is fun.

Let me now focus on Buffalo for the time. I joined University at Buffalo one year back for Masters in electrical engineering. And there were too many things to think about in the first few weeks.

Regarding courses, I did not know much on how to choose. I had a very broad general idea, whereas in the offering there were so many special courses available. So, I had to attend all the interesting classes, schedule myself in Google Calendar and try and attend atleast  one of the possible two classes for sampling it and talking to professors. Some professors were crude, some odd, some smart, some great, some eloquent, some very helpful.  I had no clue about the scheme of Individual Problem/Study/Project. This is a 3 credit alternative to a course. This helps to work in the lab of the professor on some topic and get closer to the subject and possible reference and thesis option from professor.

It was tough to keep up with the events in the campus. There were so many that I had to put that up in calendar and choose wisely to get the most out of each. There were lot of free food especially pizza, which back home is considered to be kinda food for rich. but essentially junk. For a vegetarian you always get Cheese Pizza if your stars are not in great position. Week-ful of pizza and events makes one tired, the focus may even shift away from the job at hand , which is course selection and professor interaction , than free stuff and part time on campus employment.

The primary aim of part time on campus employment is to get some money in exchange of time, this is not going to give any thing great other than first hand experience in customer service, food preparation and a bunch of good friends to work with and talk with that alleviates the work load in the form of friendly conversations. There is this chicken an egg problem to be solved. To get a job, you need SSN , some jobs ask for NY state license. But to get SSN you need job. So it is natural to go to the easiest method to get SSN , job and money. That was Campus Dining job at the time of my orientation. There were more than 100 people waiting to get a job. The managers here are great in satisfying the crowd who came seeking job. They are very helpful and understanding. This helps in getting along with unfamiliar environment. In fact, in UB Campus dining there is a referral program that existing employees can refer new employees to get referral bonus. My friend had declined for he did not want that that bonus. I do not know why. Then there is this option of UB bullseye career services which posts many campus jobs. Also, talking to people in different offices helps to start useful conversations.

As an average Indian, I went for the budget options of Lycamobile $29 for mobile. Had the handset from home. Went to the local credit union for banking. Relied on the roommates for wholesaling shopping prices and stuck with cooking to reduce the cost of living. On top of this I needed a laptop. I would suggest bringing the laptop , whatever condition it is in, to be used for atleast the bare necessities of checking the  courses and email-ing the professors, because the library facilities would be crowded. The mobile has a small screen to accommodate such comforts.

Before long, I was grinding for the assignments and part time jobs and the household work. This in the beginning was the usual student stuff , that resembled that of a typical Indian student in India. But, here the addition is part time job, the compromise of which can be calculated in dollars. Even if you are not used to quick arithmetic of USD to INR conversion, money is money. It can push you, pull you and break you, if you are not careful. The focus on studies was built by studying with friends and maintaining a calendar. This gives some kind of focus which is incrementally refined till all the exams appear to collapse it. This happens just after the week-long break that can break you for another two weeks if the break is not properly utilized.

Slowly, it dawned upon me that people do not meaning anything more than “Hi” when they say “Hi”, ” How is it going?”, “What’s Up?”, ” How are you doing today?”, “How are you?”. The person who starts this esp US Americans, will be gone a mile as you try to answer/ reply. That was strange. Outright crazy. But in time I came to terms with it.

Regarding Electrical Engineering. We were given option to take two courses outside the department. Tempting courses are available all across the departments, ranging from Introduction to VLSI , Robotic Algorithms, Computer Architecture – CS department; High Performance Computing – Physics Dept.,  BioMEMS fabrication lab – BME dept., Six Sigma – IE dept. this will enable you to apply for UB TCIE internship in summer.

VLSI guys that I know went for:

Analog electronics,Introduction to VLSI, Analog IC Layout – 3 subject to learn Cadence Virtuoso; Embedded systems – experience ARM Cortex M3, VHDL,  Computer Architecture – Basys 2 and Verilog; Digital Communication System design – gives Mentor Graphics tools and teaches Verilog . Dr. Albert Titus has Analog and VLSI lab in BME dept.

DSP specialists get to learn 3 courses from the great Dr. Adly Fam, with many options to take Individual study with him. There is application of DSP in Power electronics courses too.

This fall 2016 there is Quantum mechanics for engineers which seems to be a great course.

last fall there was this awesome course on fundamentals of solid state devices a prerequisite for magnetic materials for this fall. This is not for the light-hearted in math.

MEMS lovers go for – MEMS, BioMEMS and lab on a chip, Wearable and implantable systems, RF1 and RF2 – not for the light – hearted. Optofluidics – which has a project. Microfabrication lab – an awesome lab facility you can see from outside in Davis hall and from inside if you taken the course.

Photonic and Optics group is very strong in UB. With many nice professors and courses of variety. There is plenty to discuss among Non- linear optics, Optofluidics, Photonic devices, nanophotonics, photonics lab, consumer optoelectronics and lasers.

With all these great courses, it is common for students to audit some courses to learn the stuff but not to earn credit. That said, any course you take more than 4 courses (12 credits) is free. you do not have to pay. I personally know a person who took 6 courses in final semester. This is a good strategy. Like Football formation you have to split the 10 courses (30 credits required for MS) into some format. 4-4-2 is a no-brainer; 5-4-1 and 4-5-1 is to save money from a course. Applying for reduced course load is permitted, but only once in the complete program, where international student can take minimum of 3 courses in a semester. People use it in different ways :- 4-3-3 , 3-4-3. People who want to finish fast take 5-5, bang for bucks and save almost 6k$. Another option is to get a Co-Op in third semester. This depends on your job application. And then the lesser pursued path is 4-3+thesis-thesis . A thesis credit could range from 1-6 , people use it wisely.

Ideally by end of Fall you have good projects and some GPA in hand which enable one to apply for summer internship. Application of which starts from fall. This may be seemingly too long , but no. And people who did not get internship here went to India and did Internship. People went home just to be home. Also, people achieved fall internship in the second fall, but you need to manage your courses accordingly.

 

(May be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A Walk to Canada

Proximity of a country at walking distance rarely arrives when you are stationed in a big country like USA. The closeness to the international border was not thought to be as close. I never had a chance to cross an international border by foot. It would have been a big tragedy, remembering the partition of India and people crossing by foot the newly created international border at that time.

The understanding between countries help the people in the border and is great boon to random tourists like me who is in Buffalo for some other reason, studying, rather than tourism.

13442412_10154924875535299_555509212288277137_n

The chill factor of summer lets the mind go random and for me it was the desire to cross the country by walk. Being an international student on F1 Visa in the USA I applied for Canada visa. Duly received it. Like a good new generation guy, showed it to friends, updated in facebook, planned my international travel and executed it.

I put it on Google Maps, took a print out, in case the phone becomes unresponsive.

I had to be double careful to have all documents in hand so that I can have my journey with no issues at the two entry points, viz Canada and USA. I got to downtown Buffalo as one of my friends were heading to Buffalo General Hospital. I started walk from Buffalo General to Mather Park, Fort Erie, Ontario.

I had to be sure that I am not going the wrong way. Since , google shows the shortest route for walking, it is better and energy-conserving to follow the path. I had to refer to the printed page of map in between just to make sure that I am going in the right direction.

On the way i was happy to see the Allentown arts festival. Allentown has its own history in Buffalo. Though it cannot boast of hundreds and thousands years of heritage as we do back in India, it still has something in it. There was some Latin American music on the street with the traditional drums and their unique beats. There were shops the completely took over the roads. Traffic was blocked for these two days. June 11 and 12, 2016. My plan was to have a short stay at the Mather Park , Ontario and return before night. The distances mentioned in miles in the maps can be misleading to the unfamiliar eyes and legs. 3.2 miles shown in the map is 5.1 km. This is not a normal casual walk. Luckily , there are many parks on the way where i could sit and relax. My first stop was at Symphony Circle. I had been there, have walked till there to attend the Kick off meeting of the pre-seed workshop. Unlike India, where you can walk anywhere and piss anywhere, here, the possibility of public urination is zero, a public offense. So, I was told that all shops have restroom and I could ask permission and have the job done, in case it was needed.  After a 10 minutes rest at the symphony circle for the unacquainted legs, I continued. From symphony circle I continued walking, the temperature was perfect for a walk. Not too hot, not too cold, the Goldilocks standards of sorts .

After the prospect park , before the front park I take a right and it goes all the way under the bridge, this is the path for pedestrians and bikes (cycles). I see the peace bridge from under the bridge and take a turn to approach the turnstile date to the peace bridge.

13418941_10154924875620299_1776297990947825648_n

 

 

I was wondering if they would be checking my documents at the R.F Willson Administrative Building. I waited and an officer told me I could go and on returning press the button at the door of the building to get the documents checked.  So I had the walk. The walk to Canada was under construction. I saw that some nice infrastructure is coming up. But the entry point to Canada at the current condition for pedestrians is not so welcoming. There was a big queue of vehicles which wanted to pass through the inspection. I was on the fastest mode, since I was the only pedestrian there.

 

The officers at Canada border were very helpful. Though I was this strange lone guy walking to another country. They were very pleasant and approachable. They told me how to walk to Mather Park with a cool walk along the river side. The Waterfront trail had lot of seagulls and kingfisher birds busy getting their lunch and hanging out. Another strange and old friends that I found there were the mosquitoes. I was like a magnet attracting almost all the mosquitoes on my pant. I had a busy time shooing and beating them to death. International Crime under the Peace Bridge! These were some very hungry mosquitoes with very less momentum and energy. They should go to Kochi and learn the tricks of their trade. I had a few clicks of the Peace Bridge from the Waterfront Trail, Canada. And kept walking to the Mather Park.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was the only person at the Mather Park on Sunday evening. I found company with a spider who had the whole park bench for itself. If the spider was on airbnb I would paid generously. For it was a very satisfying, heart-filling feel of having accomplished something. Looking from the spider’s kingdom at Mather Park, the peace bridge, so near and was so busy but did not affect me. Peace was mine!

I stayed there for some time. Enjoyed singing my songs. Had the light breeze and the fresh air on me. After some time , with enough rest, I started back. As the officer had suggested there was an approach to bridge from the Mather Park. The stop sign read in English and French. Reminded me of the railway level crossing at Vepagunta. And then the international peace bridge.  more pictures to swank were taken. I said ‘Hi’ to the construction worker who adjusted the traffic cones for the change of signals over the bridge. Canada, entered the international boundary line and entered USA all within 30 seconds. The bridge was again full of trucks, the smell of diesel was bad enough to spoil the mood. The vastness of river , the seagulls and the swimming ducks tried to compensate for it. The wind tried hard to take away the unpleasant smell. The bridge rattled as the vehicles passed through, with the power of wind there is an illusions that you are swaying and moving, a nice experience.

I officially entered the USA after the inspection at the Administrative building. There was this biker who had come biking from the beach. An inspiration to go biking to Canada next time. I walked to Allen Station NFTA Metro , and took metro to my home. The total expense, other than the visa, of the international trip was due to this $2 USD.

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 17, 2016 in travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Got the visa for CANADA from Buffalo

I am a student in University at Buffalo (UB). I have been to the Niagara Falls, USA on the orientation trip @$12 organized by UB. That was is August 2015. And then at that time the driver of the chartered bus used to caution us not to go too near the river as the flow rate is too high to survive safe. Also, we were the caution of not to cross the bridge come what may. Because then, as an International Student on F1 visa, without documents , If I went across I cannot enter back USA; and start my studies!

Buffalo and Niagara Falls are so close, also the visa to Canada is kind of affordable, many Indians (Bharathiya) came with it when they entered the USA. Better late, I could apply for it from here, Buffalo. It is the summer vacation. And there is enough time to engage in such indulgence. The Canada visa centre in Buffalo is closed and the processing goes through NYC (or LA if you choose to). Buffalo, NY is so close to NYC , LOL!

How I applied ?

I applied online at Canada Government website. There is fee to be paid  almost $78. I do not have any relatives or friends in Canada. So as support document, I attached why I wanted to visit Canada, to visit the Niagara Falls from Ontario, of course. After a few days the website sends email updates on status of application. This turned to “Passport requested”. And then I searched on net, where and what to send. This took some time to understand. This is because the Visa Application Centre(VAC)  for Canada in NY is through CSC, not the embassy. And there is a fee to be paid $ 31 (no card payment online, the CSS VAC website for details, or call them for more information). Here, the fee along with proof of payment, copy of consent form and application number goes to the CSC centre in Pittsburgh, PA, while the passport , signed consent form, passport request document need to go to NYC. This has to be in Prepaid Airway Bill, which is prepaid post (Indian English). US postal service (USPS) people know what the former is. In UB Bookstore, the USPS personnel know about this, because all the time someone would apply to get the Canada VISA in this way. The Prepaid Airway Bill comes with a tracking option. Priority Mail is written on the hard envelope. One envelope to send the passport, another is folded and kept inside it with the return address mentioned. This is the prepaid post! The total postal charges was $ 14.

I had forgotten to add some of the mentioned documents. The NY VAC will send details on missing documents if any. I send these via email to them. And in about a week and half (15 days) I received the visa on passport in hand.

Total charges for the visa (including postal charges from Buffalo) = $123.

This may be cheaper in India, depending on the location from which you are applying. Please check the corresponding process for visa application in India. Probably a good thing to consider once you get the USA visa process done.

I read the following blogs for reference to Canada side of Niagara Falls. This may become useful soon.

A good post of USA vs Canada side of Niagara Falls

And someone solidly vouch for the American side

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 5, 2016 in travel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Election Campaign experience in University at Buffalo

The election is over. It is summer vacation. People I meet still ask about what happened to the election. This shows how much busy they were during the semester that made them spring. So, this post comes as a natural extension of those discussions. A note of that memory, goes here.

The Graduate Student Association (GSA), University at Buffalo sent mail to everyone, every eligible graduate student about  the opportunity to stand for election. This, I found was a good experience to have. For the fun of it. That day, the first thing I did after reaching the university, was to get the election candidate packet. The GSA office has two full time employees and all other positions are for elected and nominated members. So there is no part time position that available. All right, the GSA elected President and Vice President earn good money for the work. So that was another motivation for my candidacy. As part of the election I have to get the election petition signed by 25 supporters. That was easily done. I know lot of faces who were happy to sign the petition. There were a few who asked ” What do I gain by signing the petition?” , and some other who said ” I had done lot of this crap in undergrad, I don’t want to get into politics now”. They naturally did not understand what I wanted. May be my bad communication. I was determined to work on it. Because, later if the petition is signed by enough people I get to ask for votes top all random people on campus. So, I was ready for the challenge. I was the first person to submit the petition with more than enough number of supporters. I have many friends in the department who stood in actual queue and signed my petition. And there is my business team, most of them, eligible graduate students, who could sign the petition without asking. My job of collecting signature was easy. I did not stop at getting just 25 signatures. I got more than 8 from same department students, just in case they also signed for another candidate. I went further, because I had to tell people, now, that I am a candidate for election and they should consider voting for me. Also, as part of election I was to attend two senate meetings. This comes with the normal student perks of free pizza and soda. This was again fun to sit through, mostly due to the free food and the motivation to go on stage when elected. In the first senate meeting I found my competitor, who still needed a lot of signatures to complete the petition, while I was almost done with the required 25. I made a quick acquaintance. I did not have much time to indulge in a ton of conversation with anyone, remember this is in a busy spring semester, lot of assignments, project and part time work to do. So, I also had to keep conversations to the bare minimum, to save time and cover as many people as possible.

I go by stampede, the UB run bus. This helped me get some contacts. Also, being a regular at wellness center, Intercultural Diversity Center and Office of Student Engagement, gave me more contacts. My lab mates and at-work colleagues fellow-students started calling me “Vice President” already. They were very confident of the majority of the international students, especially from India (Bharath), would vote for me, because I am the only Indian standing! and only engineer! and only man! in the entire candidate list considering President, Vice President and Treasurer. This made my campaigning easier in the sense, when my friends call me “Vice President” the person who doesn’t know would ask in curiosity and then I could pitch in and say ” Vote for me”. Another good thing about the campaign is that the GSA would reimburse upto $20 for election campaign. I got some business cards with “Vote for me” written. I also know some excited friends who started writing on the UB Spectrum, the university newspaper, “Vote for Ajeya”. That was crazy. And I did not know it until someone posted that in one of the common whatsapp groups. I was wondering if that would be an election code violation. But other than I , me and myself I had no regular campaigners. I had folks who said they ask their friends to vote for me and so on. I had turned in the election packet containing petition papers and proof of campaign expenses to GSA. Whoever I met I could go ahead and ask their votes. If they were undergrads I would ask if they had any grad friends. Many did, and said they would ask on my behalf. Some undergrad friends were disappointed that they could not vote for me. That was great. The momentum was on.

Some of the friends wanted to vote for me on the condition that I know that they voted for me. They would call me up and vote (online)  in front of me. That was good proof. Some graduated friends who had the UBIT still working tried to cast the vote. They were so excited. But the system is fool proof, they were not eligible to vote.  I was almost planning on what pizza to order on the day of results. I could attend some conferences, workshops, networking events, GSA meetings, Turkish GSA meeting, post in GISA (graduate Indian students association) about my campaign. Some student presidents of other department GSA had told me that they like my honesty during the candidate debate, but I should consider coming up with Election Manifesto. I had no serious intention to come up with manifesto. Because, I hardly knew what was happening in GSA. How it work is still a mystery. Other than being a volunteer webmaster for the electrical engineering graduate student association , I had no contact with the GSA body. But there is no time to learn, and I do not know whom to learn from. Because the incumbent Vice President was also running for the post this semester! Anyways I had all the studies and part time work to do. There is hardly some time to squeeze in. Buffalo winter makes you wear jacket. I had the cards for campaign in both my jackets, whichever I chose to wear, in my bag and pockets. I was in the game.

Election lasted 3 days. The election result day arrived. I didn’t check it till the end of the day. The result came afternoon, is what I learned. For results and campaign blog page, campaign links, results click here.

I came second. Just a few votes short of victory. The Incumbent won. Surprisingly, getting the same number of votes she got in previous year election. And then many people contacted me saying “Hard luck” and “so close” and “Better luck next time”. Hopefully, there is no next time , and I would be graduating from my Masters’ program.i would consider it as a victory considering that I had hardly put any effort into real campaign. I had no candidate meet and greet program, I had no election manifesto, I was kind of lousy in replying to some voters in my Facebook campaign event page. I would consider that number of votes as victory for sure. I made a lot of acquaintances in this process. Some who later said that they forgot to vote! Then I realized that I was so busy those days that I too had.. !

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 1, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Experience at Pre seed workshop, Buffalo

What you do each day adds up to a later success. This was visually evident from the way I cam to know about the workshop and more evident in the kind of people I got associated with. The business mantra of this century is “It is what you know and who you know” that matters.

13260083_10154856906050299_6577766485579857289_n

Call it karma or not. I had this wonderful opportunity to attend the Project Management workshop based on PMI‘s PMBOK by Dr Olewnik during the winter break; after the Fall semester. This led to an opportunity to work on an Intramural project with Curbell Medical Products Inc. This project ended by end of spring semester, which naturally led to a kind of void especially since the summer is around the weekend. Pre seed workshop was pointed out by the Professor and then I was getting ready for another experience.

13254551_10154876437665299_3301884307547966812_n

The idea of the workshop is that a team of IP expert, business coach, professor, idea champion, industry expert and student gather to work together for a week to help the idea champion grow his idea from “idea” to something more tangible. The workshop began with a kick off event, where the concept and the team were introduced with food. Later,the workshop took me through a series of break out sessions interlaced with lessons, networking and food.  I could be part of a team where I worked with my professor and alumni on an idea that was based and close to what I had learned in Electrical EngineeringUniversity at Buffalo. The work of the workshop involved two days separated by a week. The first day was awesome due to the novelty of the way of presentation and the rising feeling of assisting in something big that is going to happen by working with the idea champion. This concept mostly involved assisting the idea champion to convert his patent into a product and help enhance the vision by putting those in words and presentation with great inputs from the team, this would finally be presented in front of an audience, who also want to learn from the presented idea and give suggestions along with the judges who are also serving or past judges of 43 north; the biggest startup competition on the planet. Since in this workshop no money is involved; that is there is no cash prizes, but exchange of priceless information, tips and suggestions to get there.

At the kick off event, at the Kleinhans Hall Buffalo,  my mind was blown because the coach of our team is also a judge at 43 north. That was just the beginning. And before the gravity of the event dawned on me, it was the real dawn to get up and get to work, Day 1 followed.

On Day 1 we were taught on how entrepreneurs, inventors and businessmen converge into a single person who has put his efforts into the idea to startup. More sessions followed teaching me basics of how the business is build around the idea and how the idea can be made into a business. The sessions with the team was awesome, getting to know how the idea was generated, the IP perspective, how everyone got together in the team, their work-academic-life and expertise , bit by bit, at work, as we also byte, for there was lot of food besides the work. The day ended with some homework for me and the team to work for the week till we met for Day 2 the next week. And as I headed back home thinking about VCs and angel investors, I accidentally captured an angel made of cloud.

13221091_10154856906815299_8317203778385491255_n

Day 2 was more focused on putting values to revenue potential based on target market and  visualizing the start up office, putting numbers in place , practicing the pitch to perfection. The idea Champion was awesome in gelling together with the team, encouraging positive communications and learning on the way. Then the time arrived after noon. We were geared up with the presentations ready and headed toward the Hauptman Woodward Institute (HWI), home to the Hauptman’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry. I could see the Nobel Prize medal for real, first time in my life.

13310608_10154876439400299_4814890180017850715_n

 

And the team, like other teams also proceeded to the hall of presentation. HWI building is very welcoming, it is not the regular brick building, some architect has really spent his passion on it. It provides a motivating and peaceful ambience which was very important , I believe, for the idea champion. Our champion was all set for the presentation that goes first. Yes we were first. The judges and other teams were very positive in their responses and suggestion. In that, the judges asked very good questions, questions that an investor wanted answer for. A demo for it was shown in the workshop, a cartoon of a typical Silicon Valley Pitch if the genius Nikola Tesla was doing it.

This video is hilarious at the same time and eye opener for an inventor or idea champion. Because and engineer or scientist is not taught how to see the business side of ideas and designs and often this single thing makes or breaks the confidence for a startup pitch. Thanks to the pre-seed workshop we had our champion prepared for most of the questions. The audience was also very patient in providing further suggestions.

And then we got to hear the ideas of other teams and personally I learned a lot from this session. Since, this was the culmination of months of effort for the idea champion and a week’s effort for the team members , getting to know different presentation styles and varied ideas unlocked more levels of understanding. The questions from judges revealed the ways in which a business mind would work. Money is one thing, building a business for the same is like bringing up something to life. It is more than money. But money can do it. How an investor thinks in this manner is different from the regular engineering mind. It was very interesting to listen to the questions. A great learning experience.

The awesomeness of the pre-seed workshop is that it is free. Free stuffs are such that you cannot expect what comes as free. Here, the most celebrated free stuff, knowledge based on experience, is distributed for common benefit. Which is overwhelming and fantabulous.

The day ended with networking event where I got to meet other team members and indulge in some great conversations with great food.

Thanks to the organizers were brilliant and excellent in all the parts of the event, from emails to giving information to name tags, presentations, arranging conference rooms for the team, guidance , suggestions and the positive energy and food. Many thanks to the organizers, team members, sponsors and everyone for making this happen.

 

More Photos in FB, open for my friends.

Kick Off

Day 1 photos

Day 2 photos

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Experiencing the REALM, University at Buffalo

The number of options a a student gets to engage in University at Buffalo (UB) is great. The REALM Experience is one such. REALM stands for Real Experience and Leadership Mentoring. This involves application for the program through office of student engagement, student union. The process takes one to the interview process and then the candidate has to attend the information session for the target REALM program – NYC or Buffalo (2016 offering). Then we attend the awesome workshops recommended by the office of student engagement and conducted by career services. This helps one to prepare for the range of possibilities for the one day REALM program. These workshops are beneficial for intern and job search too.

The preparations lead one to attend the actual event . Here, we start to appreciate the gravity of organizing the event that starts with networking breakfast. As the day begins to dawn us, we will be in the target office already with our assigned mentor. Hence, the information session on the day is very useful. This gives practical tips for the day. I personally spend the day at Baxter with a group of students who were each assigned a mentor just as me. The plant tour and process information is for everyone to learn. Introduction of their day to day activities and the way of work at the company is one to keep learning from, if you are not used to the working system of such great companies. Sessions with a group including other mentors helps to network with different professionals attending to varied nature of their jobs. This also helps to have a more comprehensive perspective of the job roles and how the mentors work with each other as as team for the goal of the project of the company. The good thing about the mentors is that they can always relate to the student life and the gradually trace their professional path and give valuable suggestions and opinions based on this. The exposure to the internal working structure and history of products, projects and research is really great. This saves a lot of time if you were planning to do a research about the company prior to the company, because this one day is like many internet searches put together, in addition, having a face and sound for the people involved, the vision of the company and evolution and development of their team and products and also the impact they have on the market.

The day does not end the shift workers clock their time out or the regular employees start their car for home. We meet mentors and students of the REALM program from different companies at the networking dinner held at the American Red Cross building. The building has a history of its own. And there is a building tour conducted by the American Red Cross. That is a different , add-on, experience on its own. All this time, the networking event continues with food and soda so we can meet professionals and other student participants and know more about their day.
And finally for the photos on the way (not people) click here >

Life is just colorful and to see the colors of professional life networking events like this takes you a long way.

If you are a student looking for a networking opportunity with a professional touch. This is a must go event. It is sure to be a very informative day at the very least.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Gist from the Career Perspectives and Networking Conference, Panel Discussion with Young Alumni

This is the concise form of Panel Discussion with Young Alumni in the Second Career Perspectives and Networking Conference, held in University at Buffalo, 04/08/2016.

Things to look out for in your first job >
Believe in yourself.
Estimate what are the skills that you have.
Most places will train you.

Most jobs try to know how is your thinking and approach for a problem.
Once you are in a job , or offered a job, Identify where you are in. Is it truly where you want to be.
Always assess the potential ability to learn or earn money. Take a step back and try to understand.
Grab the opportunity that you really want. Then there is no stress attached to it and you will enjoy your career path.
There is no way to know everything you have to do. Do not be afraid to fail. Take your experience as learning steps. Make sure you learn continuously, learn from your job.
Do not be afraid to learn on superiors. There may be questions about priority. Feel free to say no. When you are in doubt don’t be afraid to get the authority with higher vision to set priority for you.
Having too many deadlines and projects with low completion rate is not the kind of reputation that you want to carry with you. Make sure you get the right people to contribute to your work.
Make sure you add education and skills to your profile from every professional experience you get.

What happens when you are searching for a job >
If you have the talent that company is looking for then you have the ball in your court, don’t be afraid to leverage on that.
Evolve yourself into something social.
Communicate.
Communicate.
Communicate.
Differentiate yourself.

Resume gets you to door. Conversation keeps you in the room.
Thinks that you talk about in interview >
Networking is huge. Network as much as you can. Every person you meet puts you in a larger web where you can reach out to anyone in it.
What you bring to the table is crucial. Pitching your part is important. Practice your 30 seconds pitch.
Demonstrate aptitude and passion in interviews.
Companies look for not young but young minded people.

Take control and ownership of assigned task. Find time and drive it forward. If there is a bad employee in your team, good employees will be sick of that one bad employee. Learn to work with all kinds of people. And come up with solutions that your business needs. Interpersonal skills are often big in working.

Tell a story about your passion based on your resume. Resume is your roadmap. Expand on your resume.
Communication skills need to be demonstrated in the interview conversation. It cannot really come out of your resume. How do you communicate about your passion about something you have done? May be you talk loud, or express it. Whatever it is. if you are truly passionate about it then you love what you are going to talk about.
Just show it. Be that guy!
Put hobbies that are really interesting.
Research about your company. You cannot send the same resume to 30 different company. Make connections through resume and then try to show your passion by building on the story from resume.
On Cover Letter
Cover Letter should be very focused to the company. Not the things that you would like to put as hobbies.

Most of the panelists did not have cover letter but the resume had a hook to sell the self.

Salary negotiation

You are trying to put a price on your labour. Check out some websites. If it is your first job, then you probably do not want to negotiate too much. If you are bringing lot of skills that they need then you can leverage on that, because you have room for expansion. Education is things that you retain, bring to your job and develop yourself. So, have an honest conversation with the HR.
Salary negotiation is very difficult. Larger companies usually offer less.
Too many companies rely on salary.com and glassdoor.com. But there is a difference. So it is a tough negotiation. If you truly like the job, then may be you can ask for the number you have in head.
Negotiate on graduate school reimbursement, vacation, phone bill reimbursement. All these ancillary things could be negotiated.
Have a number in head.
Give them that.
Be able to back up your number. By telling them here is what I make, here is the cost of living adjustment. They know that you are being honest, when you can justify and give your number.
“I don’t want to be looking for a job for a long time” is a tactical way to negotiate on salary.
It is difficult to know your value. But you should know what you are worth.
In today’s world health insurance is huge. So, see if the company offers good health insurance coverage which could be as beneficial compared to another offer with lower insurance coverage but higher salary.

Best Wishes

Ajeya

PS: Thanks to Amit Narayanan for inspiration

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 8, 2016 in Lesson

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Snow

IMG_20160112_131051

The boy once asked for a land full of sugar

The God asked “fine or coarse grain, dear ?”

The boy said “finest fine is fine for me”.

And it was granted in cold white fine dust.

IMG_20160112_133540

 

The boy was mesmerized by chilly bus rides

Through the clouds on road which winded up the ghats

He asked for days of travel through the clouds

On the land, and there was cloud on the roads.

Inner Clock Tower Commons UB

The girl would shout with childish clamour

Excited when the container of rice flour

Fell on the floor, for she could walk and slide,

As if on snow; the roads were spread with white.

IMG_20160112_140129

 

The baby elephant who once tasted salt,in infant fantasy,

Wanted a world covered in the white powder,so tasty,

All over the surface, where it could roll, happily

Have a little or all whenever, it was the snow.

IMG_20160112_140138

The child in the grown-up wanted to fall

And never break a bone whatever the fall

And the coincidence happened near the fall

Niagara and the lake effect made it fall.

IMG_20160112_140744

 

The teen who got a sniff was addicted to the drug

And wanted the dreams through the stuff come true

In a sense of a joyous life full still on the brew

And sleep and walk on the white dust of the crew.

IMG_20160112_140949

Taking upon the task to complete the task all at once

How much was needed was beyond the measurement in tons

So, it was made simple, to let the cloud pass over the road

Make it feel chilly, cold, dusty and out of the world.

IMG_20160112_131044

 

The snow was made, not without much thought.

Based on the wishes as dreamy colourless white,

Shapeless, flaky, powdery, featureless sight,

Restless, slippery, forgery, seamless light.

IMG_20160112_131005

PS: Walk on the snow, Courtesy – Lake effect Advisory at Buffalo.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on January 12, 2016 in creativity, poem

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

As the Bird left the nest, once again

So I flew. I flew over the mountains and the seas. I flew leaving my country, my family, my comfort. My comfort is what I make of it, my friends are what I make of people. Family is what I make my friends to be. And my country is what I make of my surroundings. I would be exposed to International environment. Everything International starts in the United States of America (USA). The land of plenty. The land of ahimsa (non violence) did not care much about its own status. Similar is the case with the land of opportunities, land of rising sun, land of setting sun, land which has no sun and so on. It is this alternate beginning, a thread or branch that would be elaborated here. This is just experience and if there is any spicing up, then that is to be taken lightly at your own convenience.

I started from Kochi, my destination is Buffalo. I am once again moving out of job to school. I got admission to State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). Something which I could be proud of. And we; me and institution will be mutually sharing our names. Affiliation may be for the low minded. But that is the rule of life. We always stand on shoulders of giants. The steps to success is shortened by education, even more by affiliation, and yet more by personal effort and commitment to one’s motives and ambitions.

How I got admission is a separate story on its own. In short, I applied , got admission and got visa, got ticket and flew. I did not repeat my mistake of not using facebook this time. I got my future roommates through this. My apartment was awaiting my arrival. And my future roommates were  bang on time to pick me up from Greyhound station in Buffalo. And I have settled well with time and resources. So what next. The sharing of the story, of course.

I had my journey from my workplace, Chennai, the city which had fed me, helped me travel and see a lot of places, friendly people and the unforgiving summer. I will never forget the summer in Chennai even if it freezes in Buffalo, shivers me in the Rainy Miss Buffalo Cruise on Erie Canal, Buffalo or drains me in the Maid of Mist in Niagara. And no one would ever believe that Chennai was the place were I saw hail storm for first time in my life (this video was taken and loaded on youtube by someone at that time).  So, I had this trip , in my favourite, my second home, the divine Chennai Express (yes! the train)  from Chennai. The travel left a lump in my throat. I always wanted all my Chennai Express trips to be my last trip. I had not hated the summer of Chennai ( which is throughout the year 24 x 7) any lesser, in any day. There are lot of facilities that the city gives, most importantly the job, the music , the marina beach and the USA consulate general. But I like the MTC buses too. And one month into my stay in USA I had Chennai as my second home. And super excited to meet a Tamil guy eventhough they are loud and noisy sometimes but almost always friendly and pleasant. From that last trip by MTC bus to and fro the USA Consulate General I had an empty mind. The future is always uncertain. The way the University of Calicut has trained its students, any uncertainty could be overcome. So there I was looking outside the windows at the greeneries which wouldn’t see me for a long time. I am going for a Master’s in Electrical Engineering at the UB. What would the grass know? Or do I know? Does it even matter the grass!

I had to leave the country being sent off by my parents. And so I had a long holiday at home. Jobless and happy as it could be. The flights were booked, bags were getting filled up. Mostly the clothes . Most importantly underwears. Because the laundry cycle depends on it. The airways company was contacted for baggage information. Learned that I could carry 3 baggages each 23 kgs, a shoulder bag and violin. So it was.

Boarding at Kochi was like walking to a bus stop. I had flown all over the country so this was yet another trip. Boarding Jet airways , getting clearance and all was real fast. I chilled out at the airport. And ate whatever I had , some snacks made by mother and just watching people and waiting. Then the plane came picked me up. All luggages in tact, 3 in check in , a shoulder bag and violin with me as cabin bag. The jacket on me with important documents, ticket, passport and few toffees,mobile and that is it. The trip was eventless. Food was good and then we landed at Abu Dhabi. It is important to note this because Abu Dhabi has US pre clearance facility. This was un-planned but anyway good things happen. I could find a person in coat shouting out to people where which flight was, I heard the word Nagoya in between.

I had to get a new ticket for the onward flight. Got it promptly. I did not receive any tag for the bags. I was told that my check in bag will be taken care of, Etihad from Abu Dhabi was a code share partner of Jet Airways. This left me with my cabin  baggages, which was , as expected pretty heavy. Then I roamed the place. Found it as interesting as any other airport. I got a coffee for some dirhams. Yes! Coffee! and could not bother the conversion rate at that timeless hour.

The biological clock worked excellently within me. The call of nature was duly attended at the spacious restroom in the airport. One could actually live inside that, it was big and clean and pleasant. Then I had this queue for US pre clearance. I stood in the queue.Queue was big, I was sleepy and there was silence which aided the standing sleep. I got some slip to write my details and was led to a place where people fill up the form and go to counters of US pre-clearance. I had mine filled up in the sleep-standing queue. So I located an officer in the counter who nodded at me to approach him. I had my shoe belt and all stuff put on a basket. For this purpose it is important as my father said to keep the shoe in a plastic bag, and have an hand-sanitizer handy. I asked the office some questions regarding the declarations. I could see my three bags photographed and displayed on the screen. I was happy to see them. And then I had the admit stamp on Passport. I was out the place while most of the people were still inside. When I came out I had this dreamy feel. So I asked the security if I had been sent after check really fast, or did I miss something, or is there any other procedure to do, for I did not see any people come out other than me. Then there was this endless wait. I could not suppress my sleep. I laid on the floor. The carpet was good and I could sleep peacefully. The light inside was as bright as daylight but I couldn’t care about it. I set an alarm and had a long sleep. Later I asked the security guard again about the flight arrival. He was very happy guy and replied nicely. I waited for some more time and then I could enter the gate.

The Etihad airways onward had some fancy looking clothing for their associates. There was a bus which would take me to the plane. I felt the humidity of night air for another time. And then very soon I was inside the plane. This plane was big. Seat was big. Headset was big. Once the flight started the number of choices to watch onboard was also big. However, I did not get a neck pillow while most of the others had. Blanket was good and the headset did a good job of cutting out the cold. There were a lot of drinks in juices and others offered in flight. Food was good. And again the restrooms were better than local airlines. This was a long leg for most of the people. The person next to me was from Thailand . And that was reflected by her continuous sleep. I felt that my journey is so short in comparison. I also slept for most part with peace. Food was served at good intervals. I would switch between movies, food and sleep and repeat. There was this eye mask which read “do not disturb” on one side and “wake me up for food” on another. As you guessed correctly I had the latter facing outward. 16 hours or so later, I heard about USA and tracking of flight. People still in sleep state were somewhat alert. After some more food and juice it was landing time. Just like any other landing. And then I had arrived at the domestic terminal in John F Kennedy (JFK) Airport , New York. I could not find anyone to put seal on my F1 Visa. I waited for my luggage quite a long time. There were non standard luggage sizes, mattresses and what not that travelled on the conveyor. The trolley was charged at $6. There was a man who gave change as the machine ate the right amount that he fed in. This releases the trolley that I could take. I waited a long time. Airtel Mobile had range. I called up relatives. They were already there and had a trolley for me. I should have called them earlier at $2 to save the trolley money.

Rest of the story is like anyone who goes to their relatives place. Jet lag followed me for a few days. It would hit me hard on right time, my critical periods of sleep, back home. The feel was awesome. And as my relatives said I had to hold on for the first few days without sleeping much in the evening, which was the night time in India. So I tried, and after a week emerged an adjusted American Biological Clock. Greyhound from New Jersey would later take me to Buffalo.

On the way there was rain, I saw some major places like Binghamton, Ithaca,Syracuse, Rochester and finally Buffalo.And then as I have already told you my friends picked me up to my new accommodation.

If this amounts to be readable or a reference then it is good. I do not believe that I had a unique or obliquely different experience than most of the people. . This is because I tend to believe that I am you and you are me. Somewhat spiritualistic statement touching upon religion and emotions but still works perfectly fine. I know many of my friends would like to know my journey details If I had missed something, please feel free to e-mail me.

I thank the many instances of motivating fuel for putting this up, from family and friends alike.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: