It was 5th February morning and we were driving down for office. Suddenly the Radio announces the appointment of Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO. A small mention of Mangalore University (later changed to Manipal University) was given and both I and my father (Also 1988 Batch, Nadella’s) exclaimed with happiness. Manipal Institute of Technology has been over the moon with its Alumnus becoming the Big Honcho at Microsoft. While majority of media is dubbing an MITian holding a big place, an underdog story, the college vehemently begs to differ. While some dub the appointment a ‘Slap in the face of India’, there are various other questions that arise which MIT might not be very comfortable to answer- are we really a top institute? Does our teaching match the big fishes like IIT? Do we really offer something different to our students? Did Satya even acknowledge MIT Manipal?
The answer to most is unfortunately in the negative.
Satya Nadella being oblivious-
Satya agreed has been very busy with the new responsibilities bestowed upon him; still he has never made an attempt to come to Manipal in his past. He has been in constant touch with his school and even started his Microsoft robotics project Ispark through his school. To be fair, Hyderabad is his native place and is where his family resides. Our college professors have happily labelled him as ‘Studious and hardworking’ which I am sure is the typical standardised response for all famous alumni. If the university is really that happy, it should arrange a celebration for all Alumni near Washington (like his school is organising) or even in major cities in India like Delhi and Mumbai. The fact remains, no matter how much hoopla MIT creates over Nadella, we look like a university desperate for admissions if he doesn’t visit the college soon. It is peculiar, bit unfair and a lot sad for him not to extend praise towards his college in any Interviews. After all it was responsible for a very major degree in his life to say the least. Even his wife is an MIT alumna!
MIT today is having dream recruitments comparable (maybe better) to most NITs. The 2010-14 batch is inarguably one of the best batches in terms of academics (Closing rank of 7k owing to the mess in AIEEE in 2010). When I inquired about other colleges, their students were left dumbstruck hearing our placements. Likes of Microsoft, Amazon, Cisco (numerous times) and L&T (previously recruited only IITians) have graced the college this year. The average salary offered to our students is within reach of that offered at IIT.
That said the faculty and the facilities are nowhere close to being the best. When my father came for counselling, he told me that the Microprocessor labs were not upgraded nor were the Chemical (his major) Labs. IIT might give you shabby hostels, but they never compromise on academic facilities. CNCs came back ages ago and have replaced most Manual Lathes, yet all we have is one 3 hour class in the entire B.E Mechanical; there too we are shown pre-programmed operations that the professor has no clue about. There were rumours that Google had blacklisted MIT when their Computer Science faculty was unable to answer a few of their questions. Apparently a student had exclaimed during his baffling Google Interview, “The questions that you are asking me, my faculty won’t be able to answer!” Most Computer Science students do not accolade their placements to the professors barring a few exceptional teachers.
The first year, we had a professor (Known very well across the college) who took extra BE classes along with another every Sunday. A similar approach was taken by an IT Prof. who’d teach the final year students subjects (mostly DS and Algos) pertaining to placements. Back in 1984 when there were only 35 students in each class, a professor used 1m x 1m sheet to make the Heat Transfer graphs for calculating distillation column trays. A teacher even took a class for a couple hours every evening with no compulsions. We should have more teachers like these. We are way better than the likes of VIT and SRM, but I believe that we should aim to be convincingly (and not just by words) amongst the top.
Where MIT does win is the environment and the confidence it inculcates in its students. The various events that are organised throughout the year gives a lot of exposure to each student. It not only keeps them sharp, but also trains us for the corporate world. This fact is reiterated by most companies every placement season and is the reason companies prefer us for the Sales and Marketing profile. I remember going for a Business Plan competition in NIT Suratkal where our college swept every prize while the best plan from NIT was to deliver food from autos! You see an MITian and you notice an MITian. My sister (Batch 2009-2013), placed in Ericcson R&D said that basic knowledge is similar in all students due to the training but whenever a presentation has to be given, an MITian is sent for it. MIT makes its students smart, it is up to them to make good use of it which Mr. Nadella obviously did!