Practical Presentation.

With Confidence, you have won before you have started.

The Title might seem to you like an intellectual subject about to be discussed but it is not so. It is just an account of my presentation that i made for my semester 3 practical exams which i found worthy of making a note of.

Also Its been 7 months (according to the word press stats) since I last published something on my blog. New year, New post and hopefully a more mature one than my posts published (and unpublished but still in drafts).

Statutory warning: My Grammar has gone for a toss, I make a lot of mistakes grammatically as well as spelling errors even though there is an auto-correct option given. Shut the website window while you still got time to do, a crappy reading material begins here!

So this story dates back to the first week of December 2016. We are asked to make a practical working project which is evaluated in the final year of masters degree. Either you can make two small projects for 1 semester each or one big project which is considered to be a long one.

We decided to go for one long project shared by 2 other classmates of mine apart from me. Being a student of Mumbai university, we are expected to do things which we are not trained or motivated for. An invention or a sort of an extraordinary, out of the box thinking for a project which obviously no one does. What we do is simply look up for one on the internet, try for a ready made project from the seniors which they do not share for free, Or take  professional help from those who make such projects for a fee.

We got a project that was presented by a student around two years ago, Only the project idea and not the ready made model off course. We decided to work on it, but since it was a long project, we were only supposed to make a presentation on it and the demonstration was supposed to be given in the next semester exams.


My group for the project consisted of 3 people, Priyanka Sharma, Kusum Chaudhary and myself Anooj Prabhu. The Initial idea was to take help from a professional, pay him rupees 2500 each for just the guidance, we had to shell out extra money for the parts required. I wasnt happy with this idea since we got a lot of jobless engineers around who happen to be my friends as well and me being a miser, i didnt want to give some one that kind of money just for guidance, in the age of Internet!

Kusum fetched the soft copy of an already submitted project, we made the outline for it which is nothing but the project summary on one page and has to be submitted to the head of department for her approval. The project got its approval as a long project after a heated debate with the assistants of the Head.

The head of department has no idea or interest with the same and passes these responsibilities to her assistants who were her students till last year and now are working as teachers in the department.

The presentation part also required acquiring the materials and the parts required for making the working model. We had to show those parts to the examiner just to let him know that we are working on something. So there we went, shopping!

Process 1: Shopping for materials

We decided to hit the electronics market in the second week of December 2016 to acquire the materials we need to make our working model of ‘The Mobile Controlled Robot’ .

The electronics mart where you get all the building materials for electronics is located on the Lamington road which is also known as the mecca for electronics. You want cheap electronics, you get it here. You want a personal computer assembled at a competitive price, this is the place you want to come. These things I have heard from many people, but my observation after visiting this place, ITS ALL JUST A FOLKLORE!

You do not need to waste your time by visiting this place because of the online shopping portals that are here now, you would get almost anything at a really competitive price and you meed not waste your time and energy looking for stuff in the real market. (Trust me I have done it already).

Anyways, why we are still here? at the Lamington road? even though everything is available online? good question! There are a few drawbacks of the online market, I will list them down for you:

  1. Time : You can go to a shop and buy something right away subject to you being able to make a choice for it which can be a difficult task. Online shopping demands delivery time, anything between 2-4 days on normal days and 7-8 on festive seasons. We could not afford losing time since we had our presentation in less than 3 days.
  2. Availability: What we were looking for was not really available on the online shopping portal. Who buys resistors and jumper cables or a microcontroller everyday? Actually it was available, but not all of it and not at the earliest..
  3. Advice : Online portals do not give you advice or have an expertise to suggest you what to buy and what not to. Yes, there is a list of suggested items that pop up on your screen but thats just based on your recent search, purely based on an algorithm and devoid of any human judgement. Any Human is any day better than a robot intellectually. You might think thats utter nonsense but its actually a food for though. A robot is programmed by one or more humans, and by comparing a human with this robot is like you comparing one human’s intellectual to all those humans who made up that robot. Let me know what do you think about it in the comments section. Since we do not make a robot everyday, we needed some advice as to what parts would we require.

Anyways we went to this famous shop which sold materials for projects and practicals. It was swarmed by students from third year of their graduation to those pursuing PhD’s as well as lab assistants from colleges.

We had a list of materials from the project soft copy that we had. According to that we were purchasing what we required. The sales person understood that we knew almost nothing but we had the purchasing power. He tried to rip us off but people fail to understand that there is a vast difference between knowledge and common sense. For eg He tried to sell us 4 Dc motors for the wheels of the robot, but two are enough if the robot is not going to carry heavy load and ours wasnt being designed to carry heavy load. Also 4 motors meant a lot of electric power/ batteries and we didnt want to spend on batteries. There are small such things that were happening but we managed to purchase less than what was required since it was supposed to be displayed, not built into a model.

The shopping took us around 45 minutes, but the intent to shop consumed half the day. We had attended a few lectures, then left for grant road. Now Virar-Grant road is like a 1 hour  train journey one  way. Kusum was absent and was to join us directly at grant road, so Priyanka and me decided to hang out at this iconic Merwans restaurant. It is the first Merwan in Mumbai, really very old and is still run by Parsis and I had never been here.

After the purchases, me being with two women, it was but obvious for them to get distracted to the road side stalls selling bed sheets and clothes. I was with them for 10-15 minutes but looking at their disinterest to leave the place, I simply abandoned them and boarded the train. You might quite find it an act uncalled for, but I hate shopping for my own-self …

Process 2: Internal Presentation.

After shopping for materials, we had to give a presentation of the project to the Head of the department and her assistant teachers. She would recommend additional changes as well as approve the project at the same time. Also bombarding with the questions which the external examiner might ask was a routine during the presentation.

Now since We had our written board exams going on during the slot allocated for the internal presentation (Our department has no clue about the term ‘Proper scheduling’), Internal presentations was a mess for most of us…but not me (thats a different story, read on to know more.)

Kusum being the most paranoid amongst us managed to give the presentation in between the board exams, The HoD wasnt impressed but she was supportive. She was preparing us for the storm a.k.a external examiner who had wrecked one a year ago and destroyed the morale of our seniors and teaching/ non teaching staff alike. He was the horror in the minds of all to an extent that the first year students ( that was us at that time) were made to practice how to give a presentation.

Anyways, Kusum was given inputs for us to work one, make changes in the powerpoint that she had made all by herself and that was that for her.

Priyanka and I were against the incorrect scheduling of the presentation dates which were conflicting with the board exams dates so we decided to give the presentation a miss until the department is forced to come up with a special date for us. Out of the batch of 20, We along with 3 others were a rebellion!

The department was forced to set up a special date post exams for us, I must say they really cared for us and that they also understood they were wrong in scheduling the dates.

On this day, since we were late in giving the presentation, it was the right as well as the duty of the HoD to scream at us, scold us for not giving the presentation on time. Priyanka and the rest who were slotted for the day were thoroughly scolded for being late. Also HoD is a very bad vibe for priyanka, they dont get along very well so she was the one to get badly scolded.

I reached the class after all the drama had happened, but i knew that HoD wanted some notes of mine of her subject that we had acquired from a senior. Priyanka had those same notes but she used to give a miss to the lectures in 3rd semester and HoD has seen the notes in my hand and found them to be better than hers. She wanted them and kept asking Priyanka to ask me to get those notes.

Priyanka on the other hand could have used the opportunity to enter in the good books of the HoD, but she didnt do it, instead she told me to get those for her. Thankyou Priyanka for letting me do this and saving me from getting blacklisted by the department. I was running low on the attendance as well but those notes kindoff save me from both, attendance issues as well as the scolding i was to get on the internal presentation day.

Arriving late to the class on the day of internal presentation, I walked straight in to the HoD’s cabin with the notes she required and gave it to her. That all it required to save me from a bad day! No scolding, only gratitude expressed from her(HoD).

Now the powerpoint presentation was made by Priyanka, I had a look but didnt study it thoroughly, I was just feeling lucky that I might get through it. That is my bad habit, always pushing and trying my luck.

Priyanka went in for the presentation first and she made some terrible mistakes which i would like to call terrible sins (for the dramatic effect) which no one would do while giving a presentation. She had never given a presentation before and she was very nervous for the fact that it was her first one in front of a handful of people.Instead of facing the people, she faced the screen, stood behind the HoD’s seat and was constantly reading the slides.

HoD was disappointed, who wouldnt for such a shabby presentation, but she didnt say much to Priyanka, maybe she was bored and tired both of yelling at us (or them). She kept saying that Priyanka needs to work on her knowledge and presentation skills both at the same time.

I went in after her, She had made notes for her presentation but she simply kept staring at the wall where the slides were being displayed. I used her notes, held in my hand and facing the audience while the slides behind me. All I could remember was my sales training that my father forced me to undergo while working with him. He said that “work life is nothing but Sales, which begins at the moment you draft your resume which is a catalog of you, It is your specifications sheet and that you are trying to sell yourself to your prospect employer. “

I think everyone should undergo sales training.My presentation was fantastic even though I had very little knowledge about my slides, its content. I was presenting an extempore at every slide being presented to me which was good because you do not need to mug up anything and play it like a cd player. Everything comes to you from your intellect and that would anyday be better than mugged up stuff.

I was bombarded with questions, again I did not know that answers to all, maybe not even one but that didnt stop me from attempting those questions. It was my project after all, and I would have more insight of what is happening than the assistant teachers who have gone through so many of the projects with limited knowledge about which stuff works how. They did correct me to some of the basic functioning of the system where i got it wrong but they were impressed in the end and i heard murmurs saying ‘Yeah, it was good’.

After me, 2 others gave the presentation. Third one remained absent for the practical examination as well. One wasnt having enough knowledge about his work and didnt sound convincing enough. Other who was also his project  partner managed to scratch his entire body while presenting. Assistant teachers recorded his video on their phones and kept giggling about it, I was seated behind the teachers so I could see and not stop smiling. It is indeed fun to watch your success and other’s debacle (not sure if this sounds right grammatically!). Human tendency, cant help!

Process 3: D-day begins.

Now the practical examinations started from 13th dec 2016, Kusum amongst our team was the first one up for it. In the practical examinations, each one had exam on 2 days. One one day you would have to do the practical based on C++ programming, microcontroller 8085,8051 etc. I am not sure of all the practicals since i never did any in the college.On the second day we were supposed to give a presentation for the project.

Before Kusum could go for her presentation on the first day, we create a whatsapp group so that I can detail Priyanka and her about the project. They asked questions, I kept on answering them and covered almost all the points to the best of my knowledge.

Mobile controlled Robot: Our project was based on the microcontroller which can be used to powering and controlling a set of wheels wireless with the help of a cellphone or a sim card. It can be used to clean the house provided a mini vacuum cleaner is mounted on it, or as a gas sensor in the industrial areas or as a fork lifter.

Sounds easy right? Its not really that simple, Since we are physics post graduation students, we are asked each and every aspect of its working and possible applications which we might have missed. Basically you are grilled for one hour, You are on a cricket pitch with just one wicket in your hand and no restrictions for the bowler, he can bowl anyhow.

Now Kusum did suggest the idea of the robot, she has the least interest in electronics or robots for that matter. She is a married and a working woman who is also pursuing her masters, I am not sure about her age and I never asked cause its bad manners.

She went with some idea, but she had no idea whatsoever about the external examiner Dr. Pawar and his ways. In last two semesters, we had an examiner who himself lacked basic knowledge  which even a 12th grade student would know. It was easy to fool a guy with less knowledge and get good marks put of him,

Dr. Pawar was a dark skinned person of little over a short stature near his 60’s who had dedicated his entire life to electronics. He had his hair grayed due to the numerous projects he has undertaken for the government and university. His knowledge cannot be matched by even the university, leave us out from the picture. He was dreaded by our physics department, and we were about to know why!

Kusum went in for her presentation and was asked a lot of technical questions like why would you require just 2 dc motors while you have 4 wheels on the robot? Or How would you set up a 220v vacuum cleaner on the robot which is itself being powered by 12 v batteries?

She got clean bowled, couldnt stand a chance in the exam. Dr. Pawar also told her if this was our project, he would not consider it as a long one, it would be considered as a short project and that we would have to make a new one for the final semester.

When I heard about Kusum’s debacle, I was really very angry, I could not believe she jeopardized  it all completely for us. Next up was Priyanka and I told her to try and make things better, if not atleast dont make it worse.

Before she was to give her presentation, HoD asked me if I had attached a circuit diagram for the project. I said that I didnt and that Kusum couldnt answer the external properly for the same. HoD asked me again If Priyanka was prepared for the exam to which i nodded positively.

Priyanka went in and wasnt seen for 2 hours. The guy named vivek who was sloted to present after priyanka was inside the presentation room and came out only to share bad news with me. He told me that she was grilled for not attaching the circuit diagram, examiner was very furious about it and that Priyanka broke down while presenting!

That was the last thing I wanted to hear, Priyanka only breaks down in situations which spin out of hand. I know her since the 2nd year of our graduation and electronics is kind of her Achilles heel. She broke down in the internal practical examinations of 2nd year because she knew nothing about electronics. Not that I knew about it all but you can always handle a situation where you dont know circuit connections with the help of others in a practical exam. People do it for board exams as well which are written and the seating is random, there is a barter system, a symbiotic association between the people who dont know each other in the examinations. We help out each other, talk to each other only for those 9-10 days nicely and then forget. These are our exam buddies!

Anyways, I was supposed to give my Presentation on the last day. On the second last day I had to do programming which i knew nothing about andd I was relaxed as well because I knew programs would be saved by those who were examined before me and all i had to know was the memory locations for as to where they were saved. Piece of cake!

On my presentation day I had to other girls who were slotted along with me. One was Kavita, woman with a Bsc.BeD degree and a kid. Other was prachi, who is also my examination buddy! Now Kavita was the first one to go in followed by me and then Prachi. Being a BeD degree holder, Kavita was well versed with presentations because all they do is keep presenting themselves over and over for 3 years. I have seen people mistaken her for a teaching staff many a times. BeD is basically learning how to teach. Even though she had limited knowledge about her project and she had mugged things up, she presented it better than her project partner and the examiner was impressed, which was unusual because all he did was cross question, deny and reject. It came to us as a surprise when we heard “The finest project I have seen here” coming straight from Dr. Pawar’s mouth. Kavita clearly nailed it with her viva voce!

I went in after her, I exchanged pleasantries and started off with the project. Dr. Pawar heard the introduction and asked me to skip a few things, because he had already seen it twice. He asked me questions that he didnt get answers for, I made things clear before he could repeat his question to me. For Eg. why did we have only 2 dc motors and 4 wheels, how would the other two run? To which I told him the concept of the car which has an engine powering just two wheels and the other two would be supported by dummy attachments. To which he replied, that Kusum and priyanka couldnt explain this to him.

Other questions were just like the one above, I explained what kind of vacuum cleaner would be used on our project. He was quite impressed since the vacuum cleaner would be made out of waste items and it was a good proposal. The circuit diagram for which he was scolding everyone in my team was presented to him and while doing so I even mentioned that I had got it from the internet, He was okay with it since i admitted it before he could question about it to me, I went on to explain the circuit diagram very well no questions asked. Again a surprise to me!

I had also done market research to tackle the question as to how our product is better than others who currently have theirs in the market. There was this shopclues page screen shot added by me in the presentation stating rupees 8,000 for the same model with limited capabilities as compared to ours. That was one heck of an eye catcher for Dr. Pawar. Another one was the Project estimate that I had included in the slides. He argued about it saying that i am not going to be reimbursed for the same and that i need not put the cost estimate. To this I tackled very smoothly pointing out the fact that while Kavita was making the presentation, you told her to see him as a distributor for her product and that she needs to sell it efficiently to him.

This is why you pay attention while others are making their presentation and pick up the points on real time basis. After a while it was a fun conversation while we speaking about the latest revolutions happening in Indian technology like the Reliance Jio (I will cover that topic on a good day!). Dr. Pawar was really Impressed with my presentation, He gave in tips like a digital battery meter and a motion sensor which I promised to work on.

That was it! I saved our project from being considered as a short one! Dr. Pawar asked me If there was no communication between me and my team regarding the project to which i made an unwanted comment. I told him that how much ever I try to explain stuff to my team, they being in masters of electronics should have an aptitude and an open mind to think out of the books and being able to grasp things. He agreed to the same and said that there was a vast difference between our presentation from bad to average to very good!

After my presentation, It was prachi’s turn and she had mugged it all up. But just because The first two presentations went really well, Prachi was pardoned! We saved her in other words!

After the session was over, I felt like throwing my arms up in the air and shouting ‘Yes, WE DID IT”! Kavita was also really very happy and we never spoke much before or after that day.

Priyanka was there when I exited  the presentation room. The first question she asked me was, “Did sir get too angry on you?” to which i replied “Ours was one of the 2 best presentations in the entire lot!” She smiled and then inquired with prachi about the events in detail.

Things that went well for me :

  1. Examiner was bored of visiting us for 4 days, My presentation being on the last day, he cared less about it while I was aggressively confident at the same time.
  2. I learnt from the mistakes others had made and worked on them.
  3. Without my team and my classmates, this wasnt possible since I studied their encounters with Dr.Pawar and prepared accordingly.
  4. Personality ,appearance, and dialogue delivery. (My story, Me Hero :p)

After the presentation, Kusum asked me how it went for me and I told her everything,to which she responded that she knew that i would nail it and that she couldnt explain it well.

Real challenge begins now when I have too make the working model for the same. I’ll keep you posted for the same.

Thanks for your time, I hope I keep scribbling something or the other atleast this year, 2017!

(All my resolutions have already gone for the toss!)

Till next time  or comments whichever earlier!