Friday, December 19, 2014

New Blog Site

My new blogpage is http://tshankar501.wordpress.com/

I am changing to wordpress temporarily to form a blog-group with my undergraduate gang.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Life at Arizona State University - Part 1

This is one blog for which I had to think a lot on whether to post it or not. But then later did it, on demand by a few guys and also thanks to my boredom life in Tucson. This blog will mostly deal with my technical experiences in ASU with more emphasis towards my Teaching Assistantship.

I came to Arizona State University on Aug 9th, 2006 night. I remember that it was too hot that mid-night; 4 of us (new-comers that day) were asked to stay in a motel by ISA; We walked thro Apache and Terrace almost very tired; just to have our dinner in Cross-Roads. There we found our undergrad-senior (Amar) and got a temp acco over there ditching the motel. Then, one other undergrad-senior Nagaraj came to visit us that night. Got to know many other ASU seniors who were very very helpful and cant be forgotten at any time. To be truthful, I never prepared myself for this grad life at US. Never thought about assistantships or studies.

The next 10 days went partly applying for part-time jobs and did not even get a single reply. Mind full of confusion whether I made a big mistake coming to US missing out a lucrative offer from two of the best profs in India. Again, previously I never prepared myself for this situation. No Profs replied. I was determined to do a thesis in VLSI even without aid. Thats why I had come here. But then decided not to think about it for one semester atleast.

Right on Aug 18th night, my senior Nagaraj came to our home and told us (me and harish) that a new course VHDL will be offered by Dr.Clark in ASU for the first time. Since its a new course nobody knows VHDL here and that he recommended us to Dr.Clark. We did a lot of advanced VHDL during our undergraduate and Nagaraj have seen us working on it. I couldnt believe getting a TA job. To the best of my and other seniors knowledge, no master students were granted TA before that. It goes only to Phd by default. We went to speak with Dr.Clark on 21st (the day, fall semeter officially started) and he asked a couple of questions. He did all the rest of the procedures for us. We were made to write TSE, the very next day. It all happened in a flash and we were made to split our TAship signing a contract of one year.

The TA for the first semester went without much work. It was busy only during project/HW times and I knew that we did a descent job. We took Advanced Analog in the first sem and I took Semiconductor Device Theory-I based upon the advise of Nagaraj. Everybody known to me that time was against taking Schroder's course in the very first semester except Nagaraj. Everybody was suggesting that no VLSI guy would take that course in the first sem. Nagaraj also took that course with me that time. I must confess that Schroder's course was a beauty and I was ready to change my specialization at the end of my 1st sem if Schroder had given the go-ahead. But then he advised me not to go in, after getting to know my long term goals. Deepak and me always used to work together, sometimes with Balaji, few of the times with Sunil and rarely with device-guru Sarath, we formed one of the best gangs in that class. Also, I took H/W S/W Co-Design which was a time-waste for me atleast, spent a lot of night-outs with nothing learnt.

Primarily, analog was always my interest. At the end of my first semester, Dr.Clark offered us thesis in digital but then I wanted a thesis with Dr.Bertan in analog. Once Dr.Bertan gave me his nod at the end of my first sem, it was very sad and disappointing to leave Dr.Clark but then I took a bold step in confessing my interest to him. I was expecting him to scold me and take back my TA since to his advantage, VHDL course was scrapped in my 2nd sem. Dr.Clark appeared to be disappointed with me but then atlast nothing big happened. I ensured Dr.Bertan recommending me for a TA in his course (Circuits-II), just for a safety.

Life at Arizona State University - Part 2

During my second sem, I always had my TA work at 8 am in the morning. Pretty difficult to go for a grad student but then I managed throughout. Not many come to lab in morning hours. Only a max of 15-30 people used to come even during submission times. It will be so boring sometimes. I used to browse thro and once I took a look at one prof's resume. He was awarded a best TA award in Stanford. Since I was the junior-most TA doing just masters at that time and also because I havnt heard of TA award concept in ASU, I took that thought out of me. Another confession should be made at this time. Even though 4 other experienced TAs of Circuits-II told me to read thro the course documents and then design the circuits in bread board and pspice before I sit there, I never did that in any of my TA courses (4 sems). I just liked to handle every doubt at that instance. The truth is that, I am not over-confident but then I am too lazy to do those things and do not want to waste my active time concentrating on that.

Everything went fine initially. Half way thro my 2nd sem, I told one of the groups something wrong and then later corrected it after 15 min or so. That group went ahead to complain about me to my head-TA. I was warned in the softest-manner through Viju (since that head-TA knows that Viju is more closer to me). But then it was a threaten to my assistantship; would be bad for Dr.Bertan who recommended me. Later in that sem, I made sure (for that Circuits-II course alone) to look at the documents for 5-10 min while sitting there.

When I was sitting in the front desk of 273, some of my batchmates used to come to me and will ask for help in their CAD work. At that time, I always liked helping them and wanted to be a TA for a CAD course rather than circuits-II but then I was thinking that being a TA in the front side of GWC would have a magnetic effect and I would never have a chance.

On the course-work part, I took VLSI Design and ADC in my second sem and I havnt wasted anytime in reading those. ADC class by Dr.Allee was a gem and it do not require even a 5 min revision before exams. Maximum I spent just 3 days altogether for his 3 projects, thanks to my project-mates Ishteak and Harish. VLSI Design by Dr.Cao do require a full-day or two to spend before exams, one day for homeworks and his project required last 5x18 hrs before submissions. Although, result-wise, we havnt done great, it helped in learning a lot of cadence tricks. Right now, after being TA for VLSI Design in my last two sems, I am thinking whether I havnt utilized my VLSI Design TA at all in my second sem, since I had finished my 2nd sem without asking any questions to my TA. Whenever I had problems, I had put in hours and hours of time looking at the cadence screen without asking anybody's help. In one way it was bad but in another way it might have helped me in learning a lot of new cadence tricks on my own and which will not get easily erased from memory.

Three other significant things happened around this time; Dr.Sayfe Kiaei under whom I worked as a 2 hr grader in my 2nd sem, offered me RA on a combined work under him and Dr.Bertan in sigma delta ADCs instead of OnSemiconductor internship but later I preferred to choose OnSemi after consultation with many others and also because I was already well into SAR ADC research under Dr.Bertan alone. Half way thro my 3rd sem, Dr. Bahar also asked me, "are you working under someone?". Probably, this might also be for working under her although I am not sure. Well, in my 2nd sem, Dr.Bertan told that he will recommend me for TI internship but then since my Onsemi internship call came early, he backed off. Also Dr.Bertan promised me an RA during my 3rd sem but then since Dr.Palais came up with an early TA offer, he again backed off. Anyway in 3rd sem, he had recommended me for a full-time in TI.

In Summer 2007, I went for an internship with OnSemiconductor. I felt like I was doing no major thing. I was doing some basic design with single transistors but then later it gave me a lot of exposure to wafer level testing and characterization.

Life at Arizona State University - Part 3

In my 3rd sem, to my surprise, I was appointed TA for VLSI Design grad course. Literally I was asking myself, how could they appoint masters student for a grad course. That too, I am the single TA in that course for 65 students. Many many people (mostly seniors and few of my batchmates) thought it is very tough to be a TA for that course and suspected of how could I handle that course. Clay, lab administrator also told that VLSI lab TA work is going to standing in a burning hot fire. I know its going to be full of Indians. Again, to be truthful, before taking my 3rd sem TA job, I thought it will be the toughest job to be a TA for Indians (am not too much worried about the course VLSI Design). Most of the Indians including me, used to get carried away and make judgements based upon short-term results. The best example would be the ditching of new cricket players in Indian team without giving them a proper chance. If a small thing goes wrong, I know the whole of Indian gang will be against me and I will be left alone. Also I made a point to behave formally with almost everyone; just thought they would otherwise relax themselves from finishing the projects. I was always as patient as possible and luckily nothing happened against me. Initially in the first two weeks, I seem to have forgotten few of the cadence tricks after a long summer break but then later I recollected those.

Few times, while I was helping others, I thought like, some of the new cadence tricks were found after working so hard. Why should other students learn just in an instant? Other people also asked me the same question. I dont know. I found some happiness in sharing these things with others. I dont know whether to call it as a passion to teach. Many people were asking so many many doubts continuously and I dont remember even sitting continuously alone for 5 min. After talking about studies for so many hours, I always craved to speak something other than studies with everyone whom I know but with so many doubts being asked, time never permitted me during those TA hours. I always felt happy in talking with a gang (few guys of fall 2007 always gave me company for going back home from lab) while going back from my TA hours. Many people used to call me for clearing their doubts thro phone. Lot of phone calls from the time I woke up to the time I sleep(infact I spent all the 3200 minutes roll-over when I joined a family plan and then had a bill of $500 one particular month; thereafter my uncle had to switch to a different mobile monthly plan; Didnt know that we were losing minutes till the time that $500 bill came).

During Nov 1st week, I remember Abhijeeth Aarey came and congratulated me on getting nominated for the Best TA Award.

me: what, are you joking?
Abhijeeth: seriously
me: how come I do not know and you know? and is there any concept called best TA award here?
Lakshmi Holehonnur came and again congratulated me...
me: Have you both pre-planned to fool me.
Lakshmi: Didnt you see a mail from GPSA?
me: ya, one mail came today from them and I deleted it. Thought it was a spam
Lakshmi: In that mail, it was said that you had been nominated
me: Can you forward that mail?

And she forwarded. Only then I could see her name and my name in the To: list. It was sent to 69 people although I came to know latter that 90 of them got nominated throughout ASU. It seems that this award will be given to a much lesser group filtered from that 90 competitors by GPSA jointly with Graduate College. Also I learnt that quite a few VLSI people submitted their nominations on our names for this award. None of my friends/juniors told me about this at that time. It seems that they got a mail and filled out our names.

It seems that we need to submit some documents to GPSA. I submitted at the very last moment. And then just before the thanksgiving, one of the lady from the GPSA came to watch us (Lakshmi and me doing our TA duties). Having done well so far in my TA hours, I really do not want to screw up that particular day. Except for my room-mates, I never told about this inspection to any of my friends/juniors, just for justice. I dont want them to be asking prepared questions. Even about this nomination, I told only to Viju, Bertan and Cao just to see if they know anything about this. It seems like nobody knew about these awards given to TAs. That particular inspection day, when that lady came, I was clearing a hugh layout doubt with Abinaya (seems like it could never be solved without spending some time on it). That lady first arrived to me. I do not want to make her wait while I clear this hugh layout doubt. I asked Abinaya to try out one other method and went off. Usually in other instances, I would myself try that method till I get the solution.

So many people came to ask doubts that time. I was able to remember the order in which others are calling me for doubt clearance and I directly went to solve their doubts in that order. This technique seems to have impressed that lady from GPSA. Since many other people were asking layout doubts that could be cleared in an instant on that day, it made my job much easier. I simply had a great time in front of that lady. Then she went to Lakshmi; I was always hoping that both of us should be able to get that award since Lakshmi was the one who informed me of this nomination. Then, days went on. I never bothered to tell to anyone about this.

I had one of the pretty difficult times in my third sem. Since I felt like I was absolutely lazy after having taken only two courses in my second sem, I took 3 courses in my 3rd. Those were Microwaves, Sigma Delta and Switched cap. Since I did some work on sigma delta in my undergrad, I was so passionate in that course trying to learn in depth. Microwave, to an extent helped by Bharath Anand in ADS related HW problems. Also, having screwed up due to just 15-min preparation for my 1st exam in switched cap (was busy with TI interview, sigma delta hw&proj, microwave hw&exam at the same time), I had to put in a whole day of prep for the rest of the exams in switched cap. Apart from these courses, my thesis was taking a turning point. I had to spend hugh amount of time in thesis work throughout my 3rd sem. I just had an idea for my thesis at the start of my 3rd sem and I had to implement in schematic, lay it out and send it for tape out at the end of my 3rd sem. It was like doing a whole thesis just in one sem. With my TA also taking hugh amount of time, with so many many mail replies that I had to make everyday because of this TA and with sigma delta taking the rest of my time, it took everything out of me. It was like spending the hell a lot of time in GWC. I must confess that I used to work in GWC till late night and slept many nights on chairs and tables in GWC. My thesis work got extended thro Dec 2007 and till the 1st week of Jan 2008. After that I was fully free from most of the works in ASU.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Life at Arizona State University - Part 4

During 4th sem, I was again alloted a TA for VLSI Design (160 students). Imran was also a TA that time with me for this course. Although I was helping everybody to the best I could, I always felt that I havnt got the full control of the class compared to previous sem. Probably because of the number of students. I also took a month off during february for my urgent India trip. When I came back, I got to know that I was selected for that TA award. It gave me immense pleasure for all the hard-work done and I was instantly thinking of Lakshmi and Nagaraj for all they had helped me. GPSA guys called me to participate in an award ceremony along with my Professor. Dr.Bertan, having promised earlier to come for that ceremony, called that day morning to tell that he was infected with viral fever. He wasnt coming to conduct his AAIC class too. I was little too excited for this award and I broke my leg in the stairs that day morning. After about 20-30 min, I was able to walk with great difficulty and somehow made it to that award ceremony that day. When I went into that ceremoney, it was full of Americans. I had never been to a place like that before. Sadly, nobody known to me was there in that ceremony but then I should say that it was one of the best descriptions they gave while giving me this award. (true descriptions of my entire TA work for the last two semesters, that could be said, by just observing for half an hour)

I should also say that I was known for giving b'day bash till that day and from that temporary leg injury, I always restricted myself. [:)]

4th sem was a lot free. Except for helping VLSI people, I never did any other thing. I took Communication Transceiver Design but I wasnt too much concentrating on that just because it was an extra course for me. Little work was put in my thesis for making the pcb, testing the chips etc. Summer came, now that Dr.Bertan gave me RA and I went to India again for a nice break of 65 days while I was getting this RA. Just came back to defend my thesis. The thesis defense went ok more than what I had expected.

When I came back from India, Arvind Ramachander came up with a surprise. He told that I will be honoured in front of all Indian students at ASU during the freshers party for Fall 2008 (Jhankar). It was a great moment to get honoured in front of desis. I was given a nice greeting card and a gift card. So nice of the organizers. It was a great event, organized so well, performances were so great. In the middle of that event, my name was called and then came hugh applause and appreciations. For the first 3 min continuously, I felt that it was one of the best applause. I thanked them all. But then as I was trying hard in the midst of that applause to bring in one or two boring instants of my TA life, that applause turned into a wild-shouting. And I was there for 10 min trying to make my points. After that, I had to cut short of whatever I had to say and I had to come off. Many people felt that I would have been very disappointed with it. But then I wasnt too bothered. Even apart from this TA, ASU had given me plenty of wonderful things to think about. I personally thank every other person in ASU for making me to feel great while I was at ASU.

Thanks again to everyone whomever I had seen in ASU !!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Struggle getting into USA for the first time

Well, its nice to type something onto my blog page after a long long time. So far this blog page had been like a diary to me and it will continue to be so.

Hmm, coming to the topic, I had purchased a ticket for Phoenix,USA to start on Aug 8th, 2006 night from Chennai. Got my visa on July 21st, 2006. My passport was due to expire in Dec, 2007 and since I do not know the procedure for renewing my passport in US, I thought of asking them whether there is any way by which I could renew my passport in Chennai itself before my start date. On july 24th, when I asked several people in Shastri Bhavan about this renewal, everybody said, it shouldnt be a problem. It will take another 5 days for renewal. They also told that since US Visa was stamped and since you have scheduled ticket to US, yours would be given soon. So after believing them, I applied for a new passport. They had cancelled my old passport and had given it back to me. When asked why did they cancelled my old passport, they said that is the rule followed for everybody else too. Now, my travel to US depends only upon getting my new passport.

Four days after submitting my application for a new passport, my father and I visited Shastri Bhavan every other day staying there for their full working hours trying to meet several people for quickening this process. While meeting several people, we got to learn that there are some agents wandering around over Shastri Bhavan to help common people like us in getting their things done. In due course of time, we also learnt that they are wandering around over there just for the namesake earning money and they are useless. We were told that the passport would be ready by today, tomorrow and so on. The passport was never delivered to our home and we were not able to get it directly from Shastri Bhavan.

Days went on like this and on Aug 4th, I met the Personal Assistant to Regional Passport Officer. He was very lazy not attending any phone calls, not responding to people properly just throwing away all the other people standing in front of me. And when I told my whole story, he checked in the computer and told that when I got my passport, I was a minor and so no police verification was done. Now that I am a major, police verification should be done first before distributing the new passport. I was thinking "what the heck?". Why was this not told to me? I was standing in the shastri bhavan for so many days. He said that police verification could be done today or on monday Aug 7th and so on. First time I felt like "do I need to reschedule my ticket to US?" This personal assistant was not talking any more again asking me to go out.

Since this person was not polite, I thought of meeting one of the Public Relations Officer with my father and he also told the same thing but nobody told what should be my next step. We were very confident that somehow this passport could be got before my travel date. Again Aug 7th went on like this meeting several people with several stories happening around. In the internet, the date for passport delivery was listed as Aug 8th. So I was damn confident that atleast by Aug 8th, I will somehow get my passport. I was scheduled to leave on Aug 8th night.

On Aug 8th morning, we went to Shastri Bhavan. Our form was marked as extremely urgent by a person sitting downstairs and we were asked to meet Public Relations Officer directly. When we approached him, there were so many people in queque. Since our form was marked as urgent, we tried to directly approach him and we were stopped by a police woman. She asked us to come in a queque. I said that our form was marked extremely urgent. She got angry and made us to come in a queque. A person in the queque asked us to take his position after knowing we have a flight ticket tonight. The same policewoman saw this and got very angry only to challenge that she will take care that I do not get my passport within today. OH MY GOD!!!

After a delay standing in the queque, the public relations officer told me to re-schedule my ticket and he cant do anything to get my passport within today. I asked him about the meaning of the Aug 8th date put up on internet for passport delivery. He said that is just an approximate date. I came out with nothing working in my way. I again tried to approach a different officer with my father and while we tried to enter, the same policewoman stopped us asking us to get out. Reason -> lunch time. Just saw the time only to know that it is still 10 min for lunch.

After lunch, we tried to meet different officers and atlast at 3 pm, I was taken to another public relations officer by a person working there. We were again thrown out, now the reason -> no person working there should support the common people and help him to get the passport quicker. After this, I approached the same person independently, (I was given the atmost freedom to wander around anywhere deep inside the second floor of shashtri bhavan because all the security guards know my situation and everybody was co-operative except for that policewoman). This time, this new public relations officer understood that I am deep touble and after I told him about this whole story, he said; Your police verification report is with Egmore police commissioner. If I can go to Egmore Police commissioner office, get my police verification report signed and come back here by 4 pm, then they can issue a new passport.

My father and I rushed to Egmore, met the commissioner only to hear and see that there are 2000 verification reports stacked up with him. He said that to search your report might take half a day and it is against the rule to sign the report without getting verified directly in house. He said that the best possible thing that he could do is to search for the reports after 6.30 pm when all the constables return get the police verification done by tomorrow. Since this commissioner cant help, we came out returning to the passport office.

I went to the same public relations officer and told this. He said he cant help anymore and wanted me to go out. Atlast he hinted me to meet his junior with a stern face. My good luck, I heard his hint. When I went to meet her and told about this, this junior officer went to her senior's table and many other top officials of passport office joined. My father and I were standing far away from his table attending phone calls from friends and relatives talking about whether my departure is confirmed. We were thinking to postpone my ticket except for that final word from these officials. In another 4.5 hours, I was supposed to be in the airport. A high pitched discussion went on between them for another hour. Although it was high pitched discussion, we werent able to hear it properly. We were asked to stand far off. Atlast at 5.15 pm, the junior officer came out and told that a new passport valid upto August 2007 will be issued in another half an hour.

Greatly relieved, after getting the passport at around 6 pm, we went to T.Nagar (supposed to one of most crowded places in Chennai), for the last minute purchase of books and pouch. From there, we went to meet my Prof in Anna Univ for his last minute blessings. My Professor, previously when I was in passport office told in phone that he could come to airport for sending. But then, atlast we went to his lab. I havent met him previously for the past 10 days.

Atlast I came home. I know that one suitcase was completely packed and the other one half packed. My mom and relatives kept the unpacked one in the center of the hall and all other vessels to be taken around that so I will know what am I taking. We were packing all the way. Some of my friends and relatives visited home that time and I was attending calls. Time went on. The clock showed 7.45 pm. I was thinking that still 1.15 hours left to start. I received calls from harish and other friends waiting in the airport. I realized that the actual time is 9 pm and this clock stopped at 7.45 pm with drained battery. After all this struggle for the past 10 days, I was extremely drained, ran to take bath at that time just to refresh myself. Finally reached the airport at 9.45 pm. Hmmmmmmppppppphhhhhh.....

Well I lost most of my energy because of this, not well during my first air travel although I did not show it outside. Visibly very tired after reaching ASU on Aug 9th night. It showed me for another 20 days. Although I was able to do my normal work, I always felt some difficulty. Blindly followed others. Six days after reaching ASU, one particular day I felt I was too tired that I wasnt even able to walk in Scottsdale shopping mall....

From Aug 28th or so, I felt that I got back my health, started working as usual. Everything went on fine from then on......

Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Website

Recently, I created a new website for myself. The url is http://shankar.t.googlepages.com

Sunday, December 04, 2005

After a verylong time

I blog after a pretty long time since I want this page to be kept active.

Here is the mail I got about my classmate Ramprakash

Mail:

guys this one is really interesting.
ramprakash starts home with his bags packed last week.
near the
entrance he sees a couple of oldies frisking students
for mobiles. he then dashes for the gate faking as if
he is running to catch a bus. but two fellas chase him
down n bring him back to VC
this is the transcript of the conversation between our
ramprakash n VC

VC- Aii!! come here
ram- s sir
VC- hav u got a mobile
ram- s sir
VC-give it
ram- sir i am goin home n cant leave my mobile here
thats y i 'm takin it.
VC- I said give it

ram ransacks his bag n takes his phone out a nokia
1100(not even a camera phone)

VC- dial to ur home
ram- sir, but.....
VC- DIAL HOME!!!!
ram dials n offers the mobile to VC
VC-hello
ram's dad-hello
VC-this is the anna univ VC.i hav caught ur son using
mobile in the campus although we've banned it. i am
goin to give him a suspension n going to confiscate
his mobile.

rdad-oh.i am sorry sir. i only bought him one so he
can communicate with us
VC-but we hav banned it.also ur son has been using it
extensively to talk with girl friends

rdad- oh!!! i dint kno that
VC- all these excesses r bcos of the dean being so
flippant
rdad- sir wat am i supposed to do now
VC- nothin more. we will take action on ur son. he
will get suspended for this


VC hangs up
ram- sir i am sorry sir hereafter i wont use my phone
in the campus.
VC- u shouldn't hav used it till now. now leave the
place


end of incident

he is jus one of the four unlucky fourth years caught
by the vc
till date thier mobiles havnt been returned.
so think again abt bringin ur mobile next semester.
everybody here feels tht we r in the 4th yr n y to
invite trouble by raking up this issue.hasn't anyone
here got the guts to speak up. y cant we invite the VC
for a debate on usage of mobiles in the campus in the
presence of media. u think the media wont like this
story.
if it is fruitless y not ask the authorities too to
not use cell phones within the campus.
put urself in ramprakash's shoes. but luckily he has
got understanding parents n they will laugh off this
issue together. but will the same happen with ur
parents if u r caught off guard like this. pls forward
this n help spreading the message



But I still want to get my cell to college. It has become a habit.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

CTS Placement

CTS on May 29 and 30 came for recruiting students in our campus and took a massive number of 504 students. It is an Indian record, CTS claims.My Blog Page