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EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Dear Edulix Community:

About 3 months ago, taro_curly - based on a conversation he had with another senior, Pythea @ Michigan from 2006 - approached me regarding 'extending Edulix to provide a forum where senior graduate students can guide undergraduates on research projects'.

If both Taro and Pythea allow me to quote part of their message to me, Pythea said, 'I am concerned about research scene in India and I keep on thinking about if we can actively make a change. It bothers me that outside of IITs, it is hard for under-graduate students to move into research'.

It is a pity that we have not acted on this and implemented it already. Some of the other front-page work we have been doing kept us from pursuing this. But a new thread being discussed by shadab.mit and gaussian reminded me of this impressive suggestion and I would like to re-launch it with enthusiasm and determination to get it to implementation.

These are my specific and concrete suggestions to get it done:

1) For 3-5 days, let us brain-storm and this and refine its core message. As starting point, my suggestion is to brand it as 'EduMentoring'. We link grad students in the US with undergrads and work on a common technical problem that could result in a conference or journal paper or a thesis or some other scholarly report or even an app or a product.

2) Let us set up a chat session and firm up this.

3) Set up a core team of 3-4 people to organize and execute this. This may require
a) setting a separate sub-form on Edulix or a db engine to link grad seniors and undergrads. Define research areas, build a db of that.
b) set up modality on how it works and how we can realize a final product/outcome.
c) make it competitive to assure interest and good outcome.

Well, let us get started. My suggested timeline is to have this started by latest on August 1, 2011.

regards,

EE
---------------Excerpt from communication from Taro and Pythea - Hope I have permission from them -------------

Pythea: What I propose is an extension to Academia on Edulix through which graduate students in the US can volunteer to help undergraduate students from India in directed research. We could work with a team of undergraduates on a research problem related to our area of interest. We can help with problem specification, related research, documentation and general brain storming. An open forum sort of an approach where progress can be tracked will help not only the teams but also visitors that might be interested.

I might be easily wishing for the stars here. I realise that for such an arrangement to work, it would require a big time commitment from the grad student. However, I feel that this can be a great volunteering activity.
--------------end--------------

(This post was last modified: 07-12-2011 04:02 AM by Edulix_Editor.)
07-11-2011 06:24 AM
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sk.dartmouth Offline
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Post: #2
RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Edulix_Editor ApplauseApplause for your honest and benefactory intentions! :=)

I am definitely concerned about the research scene in India, and I feel I can input my previous experiences of over-the-net project guidance to students.

Due to some good fortune, I was exposed pretty early to Autonomous Mobile Robotics and Imaging including vision. I was even more fortunate to have the opportunities to teach the same topics. Soon, a lot of students started asking me for project guidance over the net and I set up a procedure.

This is how it worked: The project guide (me) made a new google account it.
For discussions and questions: Google group
For photos of the project, circuits, circuit diagrams etc.: Picassa
For code sharing, contacting suppliers, gettin quotes etc.: Email
For sharing dataset and other resources: A dropbox account associated to this email ID for the project.
For documents, and collaborative reporting of the project: Google Docs. So that every sub-team could submit report of his work separately and can look at what's going on any time. It was mandatory to write an outcome / progress / approaches taken for work etcetera in every 10 days. I would then, edit the report every 10 days, to make it as error free and coherent as possible.
Group Meetings: Every two weeks on Skype.

The projects started well, but lost momentum later on. Those guys on the project stopped updating the report, stopped the work, and were instead busy with their academics. Moreover, their project involved hardware and circuits, and beyond any reasonable doubt, it isn't possible to troubleshoot hardware if you are not working on it.

Typing out everything, explaining on the phone etcetera, I have tried it all. It doesn't work. Except for few extra ordinary students who were not only interested but were also technically sound, no body scraped through the finish line. A team work requires all the members to be highly motivated workers. It's as they say, one bad fish spoils the pond. One team member not recognizing his responsibilities will hamper the progress of the project.

I have learnt it painfully that students won't finish a project unless they are really motivated to complete it. For that motivation to kindle, they need to find their own interest; we will only help. If we try to make it more organized and open to all kind of research guidance place, it won't work. Let the interested students post questions, and then we can answer them. More often than not, students of the type "Oh I want to go US but don't have stuff on my CV so I will just do this project and use these seniors on Edulix" will inundate the forum with their questions, and it will turn out to be a mess.

I have a suggestion: Lets start EdulixMentoring and create two categories, Academics and Research.

Under Academics, there should be resource sharing such as links to course websites of the colleges in US, video lectures, related multimedia content, recommended books for 1) self study, 2) study under an instructor, presentation slides and ideas for a course-project.

Research: Branch wise category, and then research area-wise category. Just like how the categories are defined on US colleges' websites. There, people can brain storm for project ideas, have related technical discussions, ask for advise and start and manage their project threads. We can setup direct resource sharing for legally sharable material on Dropbox etcetera. This material can be presentation slides, non-pirated softwares, and such things. If people from city want to collaborate, they can discuss that option too.

For example, categorize projects as : Robotics, Image Processing, Computer Vision, Data Analysis etcetera.

A sample thread on Robotics can be:

________________________________________________________________________________​_________

Project on SLAM Robot:
Hi guys, this is Arun. Me and my team are starting out on our SLAM robot project, if you happen to come across some resources which you think might be helpful for newbies into SLAM robot project, could you please direct us to them? We look forward to getting help and helping other candidates on this forum.

Reply: Hi Arun, please take a look at this link for essentials of Mobile Robotics projects, including SLAM. These papers will serve as a good starting point.

http://faculty.iiit.ac.in/~mkrishna/MRMonsoon2005.html

You can also start reading the book "Probabilistic Robotics" by Sebastian Thrun, Wolfram Burgard and Dieter Fox for state-of-the-art SLAM techniques, however, I think for starters the papers provided in the link above should suffice. The prerequisites will be Probability and Linear Algebra.

If you are looking for help on Estimation theory, for state estimation of your robot, you should look at "Applied Optimal Estimation by Arthur Gelb". Prereqs will be Prob and Stats, Matrix Algebra and Calculus.

If I come across something else, I will make sure to put it here.
________________________________________________________________________________​_________

UPDATE: I will also suggest this to be a heavily moderated and no-place-for-Bull forum. If people don't stick the rules or make frivolous request such as:
"HELP URGENT PLEASE OR MY GUIDE WILL KICK ME IN THE ASS"
"I AM DAMN DOOMED SAVE ME FROM MY STUPIDITY AND HELP ME ON THIS PROJECT FOR GOD'S SAKE"

throw out their threads, we don't want Orkut Community type stuff here. Lets keep it for those who intend to seek help in reasonable ways, are decent enough to first search for information, know how to google, and are willing to be patient to receive advice. Without this strict check, without the no-mercy attitude, without the discipline this will just turn out to be a pool of useless threads with repeated information and of little value. Just like Orkut.

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(This post was last modified: 07-11-2011 01:53 PM by sk.dartmouth.)
07-11-2011 01:38 PM
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Post: #3
RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Much appreciated, EE sir and shadab.mit and everyone else who is undertaking this Smile

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07-11-2011 02:00 PM
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Post: #4
RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Very Good initiative. Smile

1. I agree with shadab.mit on most of the points he has raised . Especially people involved in the project have to be motivated and interested in the projects(Should not be just namesake).

2. My 2 cents: I would suggest a Pilot project(Start with a single project), which will help us understand the pro's/Con's , Difficulties faced and collect experiences. Say give it a month or so and see the results of this initiative. We can take feedback from the people involved in the project, seniors and then move ahead.

07-11-2011 03:23 PM
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RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Great initiative Sir. I'm IN....

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Sorry for being away from Edulix !!!
07-11-2011 03:49 PM
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RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Makes sense.

Ready to Rumble.

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07-11-2011 05:52 PM
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To provoke some thoughts, look at the success of a new website started by a female IIT grad which helps students help each other with homeworks. They claim that they will change the modality of education. I think even if you take the hype out, there may be some lessons here.

http://www.piazza.com

EE

07-11-2011 07:09 PM
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Excellent idea. Although I have a few concerns, that can be addressed over time.
07-11-2011 08:50 PM
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I am using piazza as part of this TA gig that I have found myself embroiled in. It is a pretty cool idea. It is a very interesting concept.

Ready to Rumble.

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07-11-2011 09:08 PM
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RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Fantastic initiative seniors...
!!

07-11-2011 10:22 PM
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RE: EduMentoring - Research Experience through Mentoring
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Edulix_Editor,

taro_curly and I have been talking about it offline but due to time constraints on both of us, it has not taken shape yet. It really is a pity that nothing has been done yet, and mostly its my fault Sad. It is on my agenda, come July 15th. If other people who are well versed with CMS want to takeover, it would be great.

I have been looking at Sakai, which is an open source collaboration software which I think meets our needs (privacy etc). It seems easy to set up, and configure. I would be glad to be of any help with designing and content.

Also, I am at U of Michgan. Smile

- Pythea
07-12-2011 03:20 AM
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@Pythea:

Yes, of course, Michigan! It is a better program!

We are counting on you from July 15th onwards! I am fully behind this idea and will support it with all I can.

regards,

EE

07-12-2011 04:03 AM
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@Pythea and EE,

Sorry for disappearing like that. Sadly things are not quite sane at my end yet, so I might not be able to help with this as much as I would like to. I'll do what I can, and hopefully once things ease up a little here, I'll be able to contribute more.

I am not very active on this forum any longer. Most PM's will not receive a response.
07-12-2011 04:10 AM
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Well, Taro, we will cover for you until you come back. I see this as too important to let it die like before. Those who have seen piazza, please share your experience and lessons to be learnt.

The type of people who have been praising piazza includes the huge names in technology likes Draper Fisher, Aydin Senkut, Ron Conway, and Mitchell Kapor. They think this is huge. But look what we have already done. We could do more with our impressive talent onboard Edulix.

Keep the discussion going.........

regards,

EE

07-12-2011 04:28 AM
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Great initiative. Looking forward to it.

07-12-2011 10:48 AM
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