Friday, May 22, 2009

CMU Graduation Ceremony 2009, CMU's 112th Commencement

With my prized possession From Graduation 2009
I was eagerly looking up for this event. The journey to school was tiring: taking red-eye out of SeaTac, hitting Pitt grounds, crashing at a room of friend's, chilly weather, bad bad food (I cannot survive on pizzas, burgers and salads), but all this was manageable compared to what came next. The return journey! I had booked 5.30am early morning flight out of Pitt on Monday morning. Me and Vish took the last bus out of CMU to airport at 11 the previous night. We figured it is better to spend (sleepless) night on ice-cold insanely uncomfortable chairs at airport than over sleeping through flight departure! Soon after boarding the doors were shut, and blurted out the Captain: I have hit a dead battery! God, what is this guy flying, a 40's WW-II plane or something??? But what shook me out of my sleep was his claim that this one-of-its-kind-of-battery is not available anywhere in US but Atlanta (Delta's hub)! And so, the captain added, "we'll have to wait for 3+ hrs at airport", begging to be flown to our final destinations ASAP and our connections taken care of while they fly in the battery from Atlanta to Pitt! (WTF!)

After standing in queue for 2+ hrs, I got alternate arrangements made for Atlanta-SeaTac flight, the Pitt-Atlanta will remain as is: delayed. It meant spending inhuman number of hours incredibly bored at Atlanta airport. Whole of Monday looks wasted. I hate these airliners, never ever in 2 yrs of my travel have I got all flights on-time, international or domestic. This is yet another !@#HOW to cheat! What? You really think there was a technical glitch in the plane! The battery sh!t that captain gave was real! Oh, come on, you naive!
Ceremonial Robe From Graduation 2009
The fun part, the ceremony itself: The grandeur of the event was breathtaking, and I pondered: "Why don't we have anything like this in India?". The answer is simple: We are far too moderate. But come to think of it, the Americans are not stupid, there is a reason for this ceremony. Making the graduates feel good is, but, just one (and I dare say: lesser important) of the factors! Yes, as everything else in the West, it is about business, aka money money and ONLY more money (more about it below)!

But... that aside, I did enjoy the ceremony. I delayed the post in (useless) hopes that I'll get enough pictures from buddies to share. A framed photo promised by department will take time to come, and the hired pro-photographer to cover the event who claimed to email samples in 24 hours seems to be gone without a trace. So, here I'm, sharing one of the happiest moments of my life with very few photos for now.
Me and My Degree From Graduation 2009

If you have seen or attended any one of graduation ceremonies, you will instantly connect to the above claim about money. Starting with building stages, tents, sound systems, flags, graduation robes, food, certificates, photographers, media coverage, hospitality for chief guests flown in from miles afar, sending out invitations, etc. etc. I bet I missed a zillion other things, but the point is that doing all of these requires: man power and money! Then comes the role played by students: 99% of them will be flying from somewhere else to attend the ceremony, a lot of them will bring in the families (and to-bes), friends, colleagues, their accommodation (hotel), food (restaurant), travel (car-rentals, bus), touring around the places, shopping (clothes, chocolates, boozes), and what not!!! So you see, it IS about money! It is a big industry in itself. Look out for one of my upcoming (and probably unrelated) post: I Hate Wall Street!

With fellow raccoons From Graduation 2009
President Jared L. Cohon addressed(video) the audience. Eric Schmidt was the chief guest at the ceremony, and his keynote speech(video), though good, was nothing too inspiring or out-of-the-box. I wasn't too impressed. But his note about everything related to computers and mobile phones to have come from Carnegie Mellon, was very inspiring, though! The whole procession and ceremonial air was exciting me despite the chilling winds torturing most of us through our non-woolens. The following departmental function was when we were conferred with our much coveted diplomas! It was chaired by HOD(link) and few other important current/past professors. Few made speeches, but the one made by '(I'll have to look up the name :-S)' (who divulged a bit into an interesting book he recently read, Augustine's Law) about lawyers. I can't recall the exact sentence, but he said something to the effect that 'Lawyers are a hindrance to the progress of mankind' and with my (albeit limited) reading of lawsuits made perfect sense!

Last but not the least, I would like to thank my family, immediate and extended (aka friends) for supporting, encouraging and helping me through my days at CMU (including, but not limited to pre and post CMU life). No matter what I do, I cannot ever repay back in full for what my family has done for me, and this degree, though technically earned by me, is, in fact, practically conferred to my parents. Kudos and heartiest Congratulations to them! ~~applause~~ I see myself just as an instrument fulfilling what they dreamed of. This is, but, just a humble gift to my family.

  1. President Jared L. Cohon's speech
  2. Eric Schmidt's Keynote Speech
  3. Graduation 2009
P.S. ECE Raccoons, CMU Grads, their families and friends, if you have photos or videos worth sharing, do email them to me (resolution please).


Chintan said...

Hi Atul,

Congrats on graduating from CMU.
While you are passing out, I would be joining this year MS ECE at CMU. Any suggestion / learnings you want to share for student entering into ECE dept.


Not just anybody said...

Nice blog.. and I agree about the money factor :)

Shishir M K said...

Congrats Atul...

VAM said...

Graduation Ceremonys.. Man they have a rush of joy in them .. Except for your flight seems like everything went perky well :)

VAM said...

As per u have experienced delayed flights ... (leave it to lalu prasad yadav to get flights in shape as he got indian railways in top condition.)

Suggestion to you while booking flights... Cheaper flights generally ends to be be longer .. delayed .. uncomfortable flights (do'nt ask me the logic, but having travelled as an AA beneficiary, I have had a good idea of the way flights work out :) )
After money equals comfort.... especially in the service industry.

The Shaolin said...

Thanks Chintan.
Few tips (which you would have probably already learned by now):
- Plan out your courses for the entire 96 units, it is HARD work, but pays off well. It always helps to have 2-3 courses as backup in case one of them gets canceled or worse, too heavy.
- Think well before you dive into courses, they are usually harder than they seem :)
- Avoid backlogs AT ALL COSTS
- Avoid all-nighters
- Do go to ECE seminars which are held every week. Apart from great speakers, they serve good food there ;-)
- If you like taking pictures, keep camera handy, CMU offers good opportunities (all of which I missed) during Fall.
- Go out to places once a while, you will hate it when winter strikes and you will be forced to cuddle in your warm apartment, and it gets dark at 4pm!
- Avoid going out alone in the dark (CMU police will probably tell you this a 101 times!)
- Hit CMU gym, swimming pool and hot jacuzzi once a while!

raku said...

Hi Atul, I have received admit for MS in ECE at CMU. I am worried about the program costs. Wanna talk to you and get idea of realistic expenditure and some first hand experience about the program. Will you please give me your contact no. at rahul(dot)coep(dot)extc(at)gmail(dot)com
Thanks a ton in anticipation,

Sneha said...

hey,hi atul,myself sneha..actually i came across ur blog accidently..well,i am a fybtech student at college of engineering,pune.Much of the content of your blog has proven inspirational to me..esp.the experiences,wishlist,etc.Most of all,for the first time i have come across a person who "openly" admits female potential!!!