Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Java EE Workshop at JNTU-A, Pulivendula Campus

The trigger for the workshop was to have the Computer Society of India chapter inauguration at JNTU - Anantapur, Pulivendula campus. Prof. G. Murali from the computer science department sent an email request to CSI, Hyderabad chapter asking for an advanced Java workshop to be conducted to mark the chapter inauguration.

CSI forwarded the request to me and at first I did not respond. He contacted CSI, Hyd chapter again who told him to talk to me directly. On a Saturday, when I was having breakfast, he called me and I agreed. The workshop dates were finalized as 21st - 23rd of September.

I took my colleague Narayana Reddy with me. We travelled by the Kachiguda - Chittoor Express on the 20th and alighted at Muddanur railway station around 3 a.m. From the station, the campus is about 45 min drive and we did that in an Ambassador car. I think it was 20 years ago that I last travelled in the Ambassador.

The occasion was started by lightning of the lamp. This was followed with address by the i/c principal Prof. Venugopal Reddy, Head of CSE department Prof. Jessica Saritha, Associate Professor Dr. Chenna Reddy, vice principal Prof. A.V.N.Swamy, Prof Murali, myself, and Narayana. Prof. Venugopal wrapped up the inaugural by formally announcing the start of the CSI chapter.

We had planned to cover JDBC, JNDI, Servlets, JSPs, EJB and JMS. When we designed the workshop for CSI Hyderabad, we made a schedule of four days. Our methodology is simple. We lecture on one topic, show 2 or 3 code examples and run them. Then we take the students to lab, ask them to take three other examples, run them and make small changes as exercises. This approach makes the learning easy and understandable as students get to see code, and also play with it immediately after lecture.

Compressing the schedule to 3 days made it hectic. Individual modules got extended and the result was that we could not take up JMS.

On the third day, Narayana did something remarkable. As per original plan, the topics to be presented were EJBs (by Narayana) and JMS (by me). Since JSPs could not be covered on day-2, we pushed it to day-3 morning. So the topics for day-3 were JSPs and EJBs, both of which were under Narayana’s list. He asked the students to come at 9 a.m. and then lectured and conducted lab sessions till 7 p.m., with only one hour of lunch in between. At 7 p.m. when he stopped, the students gave a long and loud applause.

Lastly there was a small concluding session, where in we spoke to the students asking them to continue their journey with Java. We are always available for any queries or clarifications. Mr. Murali and Ms. Saritha addressed the students and gave us mementos and shawl. Getting a shawl in a formal occasion was the first time for both of us. Narayana was very modest and maybe a bit embarrassed (“shawls are for elders”), and was not willing to take it. The professors told that it was part of their practice and we all persuaded him to accept the shawl draping. A couple of students also spoke and expressed their gratitude for us having come all the way from Hyderabad and sharing our knowledge.

Overall, we felt we did a decent job with the workshop, it being the first time for us. In fact Mr. Murali said that he has not seen students sit through any seminar / workshop for three days with interest.

During our stay there, Prof. Murali played the perfect host. There is a restaurant Rayalaseema Ruchulu in Madhapur close to where I live, but I never ate there. But now we had the wonderful chance to partake Rayalaseema cuisine along with faculty members of various departments. Mr. Murali explained various dishes like raagi sankati, how it is common fare for folks to have paratha and curd rice for dinner at restaurants and the details about how the special dosa is made differently there.

We enjoyed the visit. JNTU-A, Pulivendula has a sprawling campus, new look buildings and like a lot of university campuses, it’s a cozy world. Far from the hubble - rubble of corporate world and machinations of the urban jungle, the serenity of such campuses will be a good breeding place for R&D and innovations.

Students studying in institutions located in remote / rural areas require a lot of guidance and interaction. We felt it during the workshop. Students in colleges in and around cities like Hyderabad have a better exposure to industry and opportunities. In the case of JNTU, it is a premier institution, has a good reputation, and so the students there will overcome the disadvantages and will do well. The same cannot be said of those studying at private engineering colleges in rural areas.

The complete photoset of the event is available at this link.

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