BITS 80s Reunion!!!

It was a chilly November in the San Francisco Bay Area, There was palpable excitement in the air. It was Nov 28, less than 12hrs removed from saying thanks in proper tradition. Less than 8 hrs removed from the last sip of wine.  Less than 4 hrs removed from arguments over the football game. For many, the festivities had ended. But, for some, it was just the beginning. And, they were thankful about one thing, hitting that button on bits80.org and saying “YES”!  The 3 day forecast on the BITSometer was loud and clear “ Nov 28- 100% chance of fist pumps, back slaps and hugs. Nov 29- 120% chance of heart thumping, feet tapping and body gyrating thunderstorms. Nov 30 – 150% chance of psenti-feelings”. A storm was indeed brewing..

 Storms are not created overnight. They are a culmination of forces of natural elements building momentum with positive re-enforcement to sustain it along the way. There is a perpetrator for every storm and the BITS80 Reunion was no different. Suvashish Ghosh (83) batch – the master mind sowed the seeds which bloomed to this beautiful reunion. Suvashish along with a group of energetic bitsians – Vijay (83), Vikas (83) and Ratnesh (82) Nivi Padhy(85) Anu Murari (86) Rajiv (80) Venu (80) Sriram (87) and Sudha (86) – formed the core committee spanning the batches 80 to 89 , who championed this re union.

Having lived years not knowing one’s own batch mates, the notion of motivating and uniting BITSians several degrees apart was a tall order.  And if you thought biking to pahadi was hard  … this was a step harder…  but, the rewards and the descent after the accomplishment paralleled the same heights and sights that pahadi had injected into the BITSian lives.

The Reunion clocks started ticking fast and the core committee got into the full swing of preparations. Right from scouting for venues, figuring out events to crafting the agenda the engines for the reunion rolled out in great speed. Elaborate thoughts and endless lacha sessions resulting in getting the “where”, “when” and “who” questions of reunion answered. The team decided that the reunion had to be a long weekend and they all settled in on the thanks giving holidays. Thanksgiving would allow families to travel together and also meet the extended BITS family.

Once the “where” and “when” items were finalized, the committee realized the need of an agenda which would keep the incoming bitsians and their extended families on their toes. So they got together and whipped up music, drama and ELAS/HAS for starters. Creative one-off activities with local attractions were thrown in as optional choices. Armed with a decent “agenda” the committee were all ready to jump into action.

Initially the core team did face hiccups in getting more registrations as there were lot of skepticism with enthu meters very low.However it was the exact opposite with music gang, whose enthu caused needle-bending readings. The spotlight was on the music night which was to be the crown jewel of the reunion. With dates and venue locked in… The feverish pitch towards the music night began earnestly in the month of October. Virtual rehearsals, conference calls etc. indicated that music night is going to rock on Reunion. The enthusiasm infused video clips of music night practices acted as a catalyst in turning around the re union registration. It served as the perfect trailer to build momentum.  It was further bolstered by another music event, a karaoke night in Los Altos, Bay Area with an open invitation to the larger BITS crowd. This did turn the tide in the right direction.

Finally all the planning paved well and the celebrations kick started from Nov 28th to 30th 2014 in San Francisco.Celebrations and excitement were filled in air. Not to forget that all bitsians eyes were gleaming at those ever yummy panner Maggi, Kashmiri pulao, sweet curd and Jalebi which were served. Also reunions without RAF would be definitely a miss.So RAF night was organized and Amitabh Bachan’s Don was screened which added more excitement. It was extremely enjoyed by bitsians, their spouses and the kids too.

Series of events like fashion show, ELAS/HAS plays, antaskhari, and dumbchardes engaged all the bitsians thoroughly in immense fun and awakened the animated, adrenalin generating hyper tension that was the very hall mark for any event in BITS. This was followed by Photo-shoots which provided a nice break between ELAS/HAS events and the music night. Set in a beautiful location of Presidio in SFO, the customary group and batch photos turned up some interesting nuggets like the “bookends of the reunion: 80 + 89 batch photo” and “The lone guy and the women: 84 batch photo”

As the final evening of the reunion rolled out, the excitement and anticipation towards the Music night continued to climb higher every minute. the melodies started rolling out with “Deewana Hua Baadal” “neele neele ambar par”. Intertwined with the rocking tunes like “Jaane Jaan”, “Piya thu.” the audience got into the groove heading out to the dance floor. The music night went on for 4 plus hours with nonstop hits that kept coming like a juke box set on automatic. It was a nostalgic blast from the past with great song selection and brilliant performances. Challenged by geographies and very little practice time, the music night team simply rocked putting on a stellar show.

All good things come to an end and that applied to BITS80 reunion. This reunion perfectly resonated nostalgic memories, unlimited joys, boundless happiness of good old college days. The BITS80 Reunion is one such reunion which was a journey in itself and truly lived up to the tagline Reconnect, Relive and Renew the Bitsian Bug.

For more details on the event – Check out (https://www.facebook.com/BITS80s)

 

The beginnings of BITSAA

BITS Alumni Association (BITSAA) is one of the largest Alumni Associations in the world, and one of the most active and prolific in terms of its initiatives. And yet, it is easy to forget humble beginnings, and the contributions of several “generations” of leaders that have made into what it is today. Over the next few weeks, we aim to bring to you the beginnings of BITSAA – the events that shaped its growth, and give you a glimpse of what went into it, from the biggies like BITSConnect and the NASDAQ phenomenon; to the small victories and setbacks that are part and parcel of any large enterprise, and last but in no way the least, the actual faces and voices behind the name.

Though recent in origin, BITSAA has emerged as one of the strongest alumni networks of any university. It is interesting to know how 9/11 attacks played a role in the birth of BITSAA. In a candid conversation with three founders Anupendra Sharma (Eco Instru ’87), Venu Palaparthi (Eco CS ’87) and Sandeep Arora (MMS 87), we explore how four waves have created and transformed BITSAA into an enduring, relevant organization.

The story goes back to 2001 in New York City, when Anupendra sent an email to the Eco ’87 batch about raising a scholarship for Pilani students in the memory of his batchmate SS Seshadri (Eco Civil), who had passed away a few years ago.

The Eco ‘87 batch was instantly responsive. But to fully endow the scholarship, Venu Palaparthi, who lived across the river in New Jersey, suggested doing a fundraiser music night instead of simply collecting money. Venu risked a $10,000 deposit to book a place for the show. That’s when Sandeep Arora (MMS ’87) surfaced. “Sandeep was a popular guitarist and music club member at BITS”, says Venu. He agreed to pull the music night together.

Anupendra, Venu and Sandeep were working towards the big night, finding BITSians, and sending out invitations for the event. A date was set: October 13, 2001.

Then, two planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

A BITSian, Vamsi Pendyala (’88), was a passenger on the flight from Boston which crashed into the World Trade Center.

Venu says, “It gave us a massive jolt. I was in NYC and I received hundreds of emails. BITSians asking about other BITSians. The phones had gone silent. But people were on emails forwarding across batches – seeking info and reassurance that their mates were safe.”

Anupendra recollects, “When we finally got to the fundraiser, I found out that two BITSian classmates were in the towers when the planes hit.

“They remembered walking down 50 floors, watching people jump to their deaths. We didn’t talk about that day. In fact, it would be months before both of them were able to discuss that morning with each other.”

With Ground Zero burning, the three founders decided that it was only fitting to create a scholarship in memory of Vamsi Pendyala. Vamsi’s wife and classmates were instantly supportive, and the organizing team grew rapidly. Unfortunately, overcome by grief, Vamsi’s wife took her own life a week later. It was a sad day for the entire BITS family.

“9/11 forced us to rethink about the fragility of our relationships,” Venu told Rediff later. “In Vamsi, we saw ourselves. It could have been any of us.”

Vamsi’s death brought a lot of attention to the New Jersey fundraiser being planned. “We owe our entire organization to Vamsi,” Venu says, “In his death, he created an organization.”

In anticipation, Anupendra met Kevin Dyer, a New York lawyer at his Park Avenue office. Kevin, inspired by the fundraising efforts, and the story of Vamsi and Sesha, halved his fees and filed all the papers to create a not for profit organization.

Sandeep remembers the year that BITS started to recognize BITSAA. “In BITSAA’s 3rd year (2003), our dear Director, Prof. Venkateshwaran came to the United States as he had been doing for years. This visit turned out to be very different than the past, since BITSAA started to organize meetings everywhere.

The Diro was surprised and amazed by the large crowds of people he met everywhere he went. Inspired by the new network, in his final stop with the Silicon Valley Chapter, he left BITSAA with a mission he called BITSConnect – to wire the BITS Pilani campuses.”

It was a second call to arms, and one that was to unite the entire BITSAA global community.

The BITSConnect movement was led by Silicon Valley BITSians Jayan Ramankutty, Prem Jain and Karthik Krishna in New York galvanized the globe into its first major joint action. Venu says “Sandeep Arora managed the new complexity of hundreds of donors, pledge cards and messages from around the world. Being Treasurer of BITSAA suddenly became a big job.”

Venu is proud of what we achieved. “BITSConnect succeeded, and over $1 million of equipment and services were installed on the campus.” Anupendra adds.

“The Sandpaper 2.0 team rejoiced in its success by creating a cover of hot air balloons taking off. BITSians on campuses were now free to connect with the rest of the world. It was an empowering moment”

After the success of BITSConnect, BITSAA’s energies waned. The big project was over, the initial bout of nostalgia done. BITSAA needed a new mission, a new purpose. It had to be more than just about the University. It had to be about the alumni. Anupendra expressed this view to Venu often. Yet neither had an idea of where to take the organization next.

As it happened, things worked out by themselves, and BITSAA got a new direction wherein to expand, as we shall see in our next post.

BITSAA celebrates International Volunteers Day

BITSAA International is a global, inclusive all-volunteer organization representing BITS Pilani Alumni. The association’s leadership team comprises of highly talented and dedicated BITSians who continually put enormous amount of effort and enthusiasm in working on its activities. There are over 40 chapters around the world under the aegis of BITSAA and over 20 initiatives that serve 30,000 BITSians. It takes the dedication of over 150 BITSAA volunteers to make the organization continue its work. Over time, we keep passing the baton to new volunteers and rejuvenating the association with new ideas and new vision.

December 5 is International Volunteer Day, established by the United Nations in 1985 to recognize the important role volunteers play in making a difference locally, nationally and globally.

On International Volunteer Day 2014, volunteerism is celebrated and recognized in all its facets. International Volunteer Day 2014 highlights the contribution of volunteers in engaging people from the grassroots in decision-making processes, ultimately creating space for participation that leads to: stronger governance, social cohesion, peace and sustainable development.

BITSAA International would like to mark the occasion of International Volunteer Day by extending a warm thank-you to its volunteers. A huge shout out for all the people who have been associated with BITSAA in the past or present!

Also, in honor of International Volunteer Day 2014, BITSAA International conjoins hundreds of organizations across the world in celebrating the contribution of volunteers by announcing the Volunteer of the Month Award for November 2014.

Join us in acknowledging volunteers’ participation, engagement and voice, in shaping the initiatives BITSAA undertakes. We are immensely glad to present the award to – Shashwat Nandan from the Fundraising team and Siddharth Mehta from the Career Center team. Let us hear it from the winners themselves:-

Shashwat Nandan

Shashwat Nandan, Fundraising Team

“I had joined BITSAA in September, 2013 in the fundraising team with the goal of contributing towards our alma mater. It has been an incredible journey beyond my expectations, interacting & working with most dynamic & intellectual people. I am currently working on two projects- eStore revamping & operations and India credit card alliance. BITSAA nurtures leadership & encourages innovative ideas. I would like to continue working with this esteemed & selfless group of individuals for the fun of facing challenges & ideate to solve them.  I hope to get involved in many more projects in future to help our alma mater & students of BITS.-Shashwat Nandan”

Siddharth Mehta

Siddharth Mehta, Career Center

“I would to like to thank BITSAA for the appreciation. I joined the Career Center team in order to be a part of a very useful project and for the learning experience associated with developing the product. In the past few months I have been working independently with plenty of responsibility and have learned a bunch of things in the process which I wouldn’t have otherwise. The team worked very efficiently and the results were really good. I am really looking forward to our future plans to take our work to the next level.- Siddharth Mehta”

Indeed, BITSAA International is fortunate to have such brilliant volunteers.

The BITS2MSPhD Talk: 31st August, 2013

Thinking about a higher degree?  MS or PhD might be for you. Find out for yourself. BITS2MSPhD, along with Embryo, presents this opportunity to BITSians on and off-campus. Get to know about the graduate school experience. We will help you find answers for:

Why Graduate School?

How to select a university?

How to write your resume and Statement of Purpose?

How should be your letter of recommendation?

Now you can tweet your questions to us too!
Post your questions on twitter with the hashtag “#bits2msphd”. And we shall take it from there. You may tweet your questions before or during the talk.

Off campus participants can join too, via WebEx conference.  You may find the link to live webex conference here.

The talks are held on campus:

In Goa and Hyderabad – Date: 31st August 2013 Time: 6.30 PM IST 

About the speakers:

Srivarsha Rajshekar(2007B1TS563P) is currently doing her PhD at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Cornell University in New York.  She studied M.Sc. (Hons.) Biological Sciences at BITS-Pilani and graduated in 2011.  She pursued her Thesis work at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany. She has also worked in research laboratories in the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune prior to beginning her PhD. She is passionate about science research and education.

Adwait Gandhe(2008A3TS199G) graduated with a degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the Goa campus in 2012. He interned at Cameo Digital Media Lab (PS1), where he implemented a computer vision algorithm on an embedded platform. He then developed an inventory management system and presented his work at an international IEEE conference in Fukuoka, Japan. He was selected for the StartingBloc Fellowship, and traveled to Boston, USA to attend the Institute for Social Innovation. He then pursued his Bachelor Thesis at Fraunhofer Institute for Visual Computing in Darmstadt, Germany. He also attended the International Conference on Computer Vision, Barcelona, Spain before joining the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University to pursue his Masters in Robotic Systems Development. He was the Vice-chairperson of the IEEE Student Branch and helped revive Celestia, the Astronomy club. Adwait’s focus at CMU was Robotics, Machine Learning and Data Mining. He also took coursework in Entrepreneurship and is currently a member of the Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club at the Tepper School of Business. He is currently pursuing an internship at FMC Schilling Robotics, a company that develops sub-sea robots, based in California, USA.

In Pilani – Date: 31st August, 2013 Time: 8:30 PM IST Venue: LTC 5103
About the Speaker:

Yashkumar Gandhi (2007A1PS432P) is currently pursuing M.S. in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University, West Lafayette,Indiana, USA.  He completed his B.E. (Hons) in Chemical Engineering at BITS-Pilani in 2011. Earlier this year, Yash interned at GE Global Research Centre, at John F Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore. He has also worked as  a research intern at National Aerospace Laboratories, (CSIR-NAL) Bangalore  and had  been a UGC summer fellow at Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT-Mumbai) in 2010.

Clarification of membership at BITSAA.org (BITSAA International)

Recently, BITSAA International received an e-mail from a student asking for clarification regarding the Alumina registration fees that he had paid on campus. While the matter was not strictly within BITSAA International’s ambit, we thought it was a good opportunity to help alumni to understand the difference between BITSAA International and BITSAAD which is the department concerned with Alumni Affairs on campus.

Alumni registration fees are raised by the Alumni Division on campus. The utilization of funds goes towards the Director’s Tea Party, Batch snaps, yearbook and so on. The exact details on fund collections and split up of expenditure should be available with the local BITSAAD incharges at Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai.

BITSAA International is a non-profit organization. We have never charged registration/membership or membership fees, nor do we foresee any necessity to do so in  the future for now. All registrations on the BITSAA International website are free and will continue to remain so.

BITSAA International

Many people would be interested to know that BITS Alumni Association International , BITSAA International, was created in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Three bitsians, Anupendra Sharma (Eco Instru ’87), Venu Palaparthi (Eco CS ’87) and Sandeep Arora (MMS 87), were working towards a scholarship dedicated to one of their batchmates, SS Seshadri (Eco Civil), who had passed away a few years ago. They met each other in the process of hosting a Music Night in October, 2011 to that effect. But one month before that, on September 11, 2001, the World Trade Centre was attacked. A BITSian, Vamsi Pendyala (’88), was a passenger on the flight from Boston which crashed into the World Trade Center.

In light of recent events, the three founders decided that it was only fitting to create a scholarship in memory of Vamsi Pendyala. Vamsi’s wife and classmates were instantly supportive, and the organizing team grew rapidly. Unfortunately, overcome by grief, Vamsi’s wife took her own life a week later.

Vamsi’s tragedy brought a lot of attention to the Fundraiser at New Jersey. “We owe our entire organization to Vamsi,” Venu says, “In dying, he created an organization.” BITSAA was recognized by BITS in 2003 when the then Director Prof. Venkateshwaran had visited the United States.

BTISAA then grew taking stride after stride. BITSconnect, BITS Connect 2.0, Sandpaper, BITS to MS/PHD, BITS to Bschool, BITSAA Global 30 under 30 just some of the initiatives and good work done by bitsian alumni. You can read more about alumni coming together to help out others on the BITSAA International website.

BITSAAD

Each campus has its own BITS Alumni Affairs Division, BITSAAD is functioning at Pilani, Goa, Hyderabad and Dubai campuses. BITSAAD maintains liaisons with the alumni and involves them in the development of the university. The division functions as an arm of the campus administration.

The BITS Alumni Affairs Division, established in 2010 connects and engages students, alumni friends and well-wishers to a lifelong relationship with BITS Pilani. The division is working to extend further, the Alumni support to the continuing development of the Institute’s academics, research and off campus programs, expansion and renewal of its facilities, and in providing scholarship and financial aid to students through annual fundraising campaigns. The division generates opportunities for alumni and friends of the institute to extend their time, talent and treasure to enhance the vitality and reputation of BITS Pilani.

The activities conducted by the division during the academic year 2011-12 include

·        Director’s Tea Party

·        Batch Snaps (B.E and M.E)

·        Support for Convocation 2011

·        Registration of graduating students as BITS Alumni

·        Design, procurement, distribution and sale of Institute approved souvenirs

·        Coordinating Scholarship Applications, Travel grants, requests from students for alumni mentoring, etc.

·        Coordinating Alumni Visits

·        Coordinating Lets Promote BITS Pilani (LPBP)

On Campus Talks

On campus talks are an excellent forum for invited speakers from the alumni community to share their experiences with the students’ on-campus

Project Embryo Lectures

Alumni from different field and expertise interact with the students through video lecture. Efforts are made to telecast lectures to all the campuses simultaneously.

The Road Ahead

BITSAA International and BITSAAD are working together to  give back to the University as Alumni, what we received as students. Whether you are a current student, graduating class, alumni or faculty, Please do register on the global BITSian Directory at www.bitsaa.org

 

BITSAA Intl is working in sync with the office of alumni affairs to create a cohesive and tightly integrated workflow & infrastructure . Whether you are a current student, graduating class, alumni or faculty, Please do register on the global BITSian Directory – www.bitsaa.org

Sources & Links :

BITSAA Initiatives - http://www.bitsaa.org/?page=initiatives

BITS Connect 2.0 & How it will change things on campus - http://bitsconnect20.bitsaa.org/

http://www.bitsaa.org/news/111339/

BITSAA Global Meet 2014 - http://www.bitsaaglobalmeet.org/

BITSAAD - http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in/pilani/alumni

http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in/Goa/alumni

http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in/hyderabad/alumni

http://www.bits-pilani.ac.in/dubai/alumni

Aditya Bhuvaneshwaran, Team Leader – Membership Team, BITSAA International.