This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and are not a reflection of Ping! as a whole.
Writers: Srijan Chakraborty, Aditya Nair
While COVID-19 brought life as we knew it to a stand-still, we all discovered shows, movies and unique music, finding new creativity in this world. Clubs in IIITH embraced the new normal and continued their engaging activities online. It was an action-packed winter, with clubs coming up with innovative and engaging online activities to keep us from succumbing to the boredom and the frustration an online semester brings.
Let’s highlight the events that provided a spectacular finish to 2020.
1) Astronomy Club
The Astronomy club conducted the event “Guess the Pokemon”, as part of the ‘Pokemon Week’ initiative, from the 21st to the 27th of December. To bring about a sense of nostalgia from our childhood days, they posted a pokemon silhouette to guess on their Instagram stories, and the first ones to correctly guess were given shoutouts. It was encouraging to see that the club grew in prominence, garnering over a hundred views every day.
Apart from this, they widely spread the word around about the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction, being the closest observable phenomenon for the first time in 800 years. Few people shared pictures of this once-in-a-lifetime experience with them via the Facebook group. They also conducted a recruitment drive for UG1 in the last week of December.
2) The Dance Crew
The Crew organised a movie screening for all dance enthusiasts on the 12th of December 2020. The movie chosen was Step Up 3 and was organised and set up on the club’s Discord server. Participants from UG1 to UG3 came together to watch the film. The club was also a part of the Impressions cultural fest, the annual cultural fest organised by the College of Engineering Pune (COEP). 10 Participants (all UG2) from the group represented IIIT-H and made three submissions for the competition.
They were extremely overwhelmed to see the immense support they received in the People’s Choice Award voting for the Bollywood group dance submission
The LitClub organised AniMatsuri, an Anime fest to bring together all the Otakus (people who are particularly interested in anime and manga) at IIIT-H on World Otaku Day! Students from all batches participated in this event which lasted 12 days. The fest started with Manga Night on the 15th of December, where all the participants talked about their favourite manga series. The LitClub also organised an enthralling debate, based on the popular manga and anime series, Death Note on the 17th of December. A contest was also held to select the best Anime fanart, submissions for which were open till the 26th of December. With participants coming in from all batches, LitClub completed an action-packed December with ardour.
4) The Gaming Club
The Gaming Club held the Pokémon League, which lasted two weeks from the 14th to the 29th of December. It was orchestrated along with the Pokémon week, held during this time, to introduce the competitive side of Pokémon to the enthusiasts while having tons of fun. There were a total of 26 participants. These events all lead to Pokémon communities’ formation, where people started discussing related content and even streaming games on the club’s Discord server.
5) Decore – The Design Club
The Decore club conducted an introductory session to Spark AR, in collaboration with the Clubs Council for the IIIT Talks, which was focused on making simple Instagram filters using the free software Spark AR, provided by Facebook. There were around 40 participants, most of them belonging to UG1 and UG2.
Decore also conducted Shadows of Cipher on the 28th of December 2020, based on steganography basics. There was a tutorial on this just before the contest started and the top three people who were the first to decode all the images were given prizes. With around 90 participants from all the batches, the club capped off their most successful event by encouraging participation through prizes to random members.
The Frivolous Humor Club had taken a hiatus year, not wanting to discourage anybody by an online stand-up. The FHC would like to remain a hobby club, with their members channelling their inner comedian through other mediums.
The National Service Scheme conducted ‘Do your bit!’, an event geared towards social service in one’s neighbourhood. Participants were involved in a variety of activities, including animal feeding, clearing trash, and conducting awareness. With over 40 participants scattered around the country, they saw encouraging results through the pictures and videos shared with them. They were successful in reminding us that even in these challenging times, we should not let ourselves escape from the social responsibility we have upon us of being citizens of Mother Earth.
8) The Theory Group
The Theory Group continued its Seminar Saturdays’ initiative, wherein students get to present something of their choice every week, be it a research paper, a topic, or a field of study. They also followed up on their Theory Thursdays’ initiative, a gathering of students looking to share their views and information about topics that interest them on an informal platform and manner.
Apart from these initiatives, they held a month-long reading group for ‘The Paradigms of Artificial Intelligence Programming’, which was in its essence, a self-paced study group for the book. There is also a study group in progress for studying the design and implementation of Rust’s lifetime semantics.
9) The Language Club
The Language Club conducted ‘Crosswords’, which started in December and is still ongoing. It is an event which involves solving crosswords in different languages, with hints provided alongside. The aim was to encourage the study and usage of foreign languages among the students of IIIT-H. Another event that was conducted was ‘Shiritori’, a Japanese game held on the Japanese discord channel of TLC, wherein a player said a word, and the ‘rear part’ of that word was recycled by the next player for the beginning of the new word, and so forth. The game was chosen because it went with the club’s motto, “Learning more, together”.
10) Amateur Sports Enthusiast’s Club
ASEC is currently holding an event, called ‘Revive’ which started on the 28th of December. This is an event, which is being conducted through the club’s social media platforms. Participants are encouraged to demonstrate their enthusiasm and physical prowess, by sending in videos of them performing certain physical activities, such as doing push-ups, dribbling a football, and challenging other students to keep on raising the bar. The club thought this event encouraged students to resume their physical activities once again after several places had lockdown restrictions lifted.
11) Open Source Developers Group
The OSDG conducted an introductory session on GSoC for the freshers. This was geared to encourage the first-year students to try for this prestigious program, detailing the benefits and the efforts needed to be given. One of the administrators of OSDG, Tanmay Sachan, shared his experience, identifying some prerequisites and tips essential to the program. With over 200 participants, there was enthusiastic participation and involvement, with the discussion also branching out to other open-source programs like Outreachy and Google Season of Docs.
They also held an introductory session for the freshers on Linux, covering command-line prompts. With the number of participants exceeding 100, there was active involvement from the participants.
12) Art Society
The Art Society conducted its annual Inktober event, where enthusiastic artists were given a canvas to embrace and nurture their talents. The contestants were given cues, following which they were to submit art relevant to it. As the name suggests, participants must use only ink to create art, and this event ran its course throughout October. This year saw a steep increase in the number of regular sketch artists and submissions, nearly 25 and 300 respectively. Prizes were given out every week, keeping in mind the artist’s creativity and punctuality. This event reached mammoth heights of success comparable to the Art Society’s flagship event, the Wall Murals, that occurs during Felicity each year.
The Art Society also conducted a very successful Origami Workshop to familiarise enthusiasts, and prepare them for the week-long challenge they had in store for them. Athreya C, who is considered an Origami Maestro, spearheaded the event. The focus was on teaching the attendees origami concepts, instead of guiding them through the steps or spoon-feeding them techniques and designs. Participation was seen from first, second, and third-year students. This workshop lasted for two days. It was followed by the ‘Origami Week’ where prompts were given to be taken up by students. To top off the fun and excitement, prices akin to those won during the Inktober event were given as an added incentive!
13) Programming Club
The programming club carried on with their weekly educational streams, wherein they focused on solving problems from a past scholastic contest. They also commenced their meets for learning strings, covering the basics in their first session, including topics like Hashing, Trie and the KMP algorithm. The club also conducted a session on number theory, identifying it as a frequent concept appearing in programming contests. Backed by an interactive audience, the organisers introduced modular arithmetic concepts, often seen as a prerequisite to programming problems. To help students test their understanding of the idea, the coordinators arranged a VJudge contest and a notion blog. The club was elated to see active participation from all batches, with an overwhelming involvement from first-year students.
The programming club also held ICPC Online Practice Contests 1 and 2, each hosting 38 teams, wherein students could practice as teams. The event helped them familiarise themselves with the ICPC format and practice coordinating remotely.
14) Electronics and Robotics Club
The club conducted an ‘Intro to Verilog’ workshop on the 7th of December, intending to introduce VLSI design architecture, and discuss prospects such as jobs and research in electronics. With nearly 90 students partaking in the event from the first-year and second-year batches, the event became a monumental success. The coordinators also had a CTF (Capture The Flag) question for the participants to crack.
15) Chess Club
The chess club conducted a ‘crazyhouse’ tournament on the 9th of December, their first event of the month. A fun variant of chess, the rules make this version more dynamic, where instead of playing a move, you can put a captured piece on the board as your piece. The matches were very entertaining with most participants coming in from the second and third-year undergraduates. The club also conducted a classical blitz tournament. With time controls of 5 minutes and 0 seconds increment, this tournament saw heavy competition and intense games. A unique option of ‘berserk’, where a player could gamble with their time for double the points. Once again, participation was seen from many batches, with the first, second and third-year undergraduate students having maximum representation.
16) The TV Room Quiz Club
With the buzz and the drama surrounding the late IPL season, the TVRQC conducted a cricket quiz. Held during the IPL playoffs, 26 teams with three members each participated in this intense, mind-boggling event. Contributions were seen from all batches, starting from the first years to the alumni. The club also conducted an event for the ‘Intro to Freshers’ week. They released a small questionnaire on Facebook and Instagram, in which they posted 5 questions, and the participants answered in the comments. The event saw wide-scale participation, with over 50 comments under each question.
Pentaprism, the photography club, conducted a Freshers’ Event in November. Around 50 people participated in the one and a half hour contest. The participants were given cues using which they were to discuss with their cluster members and post a picture, after which everyone votes on the best image representing that cue. The club was thrilled with the number of participants that came out and the pictures’ fantastic quality and creativity.
18) The Hacking Club
The Hacking Club conducted “Intro to Hacking”, an event geared towards a proper introduction to Ethical Hacking and Capture The Flag events (CTFs). This was also an introduction of the hacking club to the freshers from UG1. To give the participants a taste of the excitement that ensues in contests, the coordinators organized a challenging mini puzzle at the end of the session. The interactions were highly involved, with some discussions delving into deeper topics. Participation came from all batches, with UG1 being in majority, to get acquainted with the concepts required for ethical hacking and CTFs.
19) The Debate Society
The debate society attained new heights during this busy winter, as they conducted a club record of five events. With over a hundred participants registering for the debate tournament, it was an entertaining experience for the organisers and participants. An avant-garde club, their exploits can be further explored in this article.
Clubs realised the adage ‘light at the end of a dark tunnel’ at IIIT Hyderabad. They ended a subpar year with an action-filled, jampacked season of exciting and entertaining activities.