Who are you?’, he asks. ‘Well, Sir,I’m an IITian’, I say. ‘Is that all?’. I’m a bit taken aback. This has never happened before. What am I if not an engineer? Have I, or any of us, ever dreamed of ever being more than ‘just an engineer, or just an IITian’? Many of us have watched our friends perform in CLT and wished we could play like them. We’ve all watched Nolan movies and wondered how his mind works. Be it playing the guitar or directing a movie, or even playing a sport – there are activities that we admire and have always wanted to learn. However, pursuing most interests in insti requires extra effort over and above the already heavy academic curriculum – something that deters many beginners. Also, the initial enthusiasm drains out if the learning process lacks structure. This problem is precisely what Leisure Time Activity Program, also called L-TAP, aims to solve.
The Leisure Time Activity Program (L-TAP) is an initiative by the IIT Madras Students Activities Trust, the umbrella organization which promotes all student bodies on the campus. It aims to “enrich the personality of the students by giving opportunities to learn various skills during their leisure time.” In a survey conducted by the Dean of Students, Prof.Sivakumar, an year back, 1600+ students voted on the extra-curricular activities that they’d like to pursue. The top 80% choices are indicated in the following pie chart – the most popular ones being music, adventure sports, teaching and robotics.
A brainchild of Prof.Sivakumar and Prof.Mahesh Panchagnula, and executed by Mr.Vijay Dhavala, a 1989 alumnus of IIT-M, L-TAP aims to offer courses that spans a plethora of these areas. With professional instruction and classes outside the regular hours and topics, ranging from film making, terracotta crafts, and self-defense art Krav Maga to ‘Understanding Data’ and the curiously titled ‘Managing ANYTHING’, the courses are sure to be accessible and interesting to students across programs.
About twenty courses are being piloted this semester, of which a student can choose a maximum of 2. While the students can state more than 2 preferences, the allotment algorithm being used would maximise the number of overall first preference allotments. Each course will consist of two sessions, 1.5 hours long each, per week throughout the semester. The classes will be organized so as to not clash with exams, and moreover the semester-long course ensures that we thoroughly learn the skill at a leisurely pace. Although there is a payment of 900 rupees per course at the time of registration, this entire amount will be refunded subject to 80% attendance at the time of completion. If completed successfully, the students will also be given a certificate for satisfactory participation.
Arrangements have been made for students to sign up for these courses and pay through their internal i-kollege portal. Applications were accepted till the 15th of August, soon after which the classes were scheduled to begin- the date symbolically coinciding with Independence Day. To give a flavour of the courses, a soap-box was conducted from the 9th to 14th of August where each of the coach presented an introduction to their respective courses and explained what to look forward to in the semester.
Conceptually, L-TAP looks like a great opportunity to tap into the leisure time and pick up new interests. Mr.Vijay, who is also the L-TAP Advisor, strongly believes that L-TAP can give a structure to all extracurricular activities in long term. In regard to the integration with existing student clubs, he says, “L-TAP would be like a course, whereas clubs would be projects. They go hand-in-hand. While you learn in the former, you can experiment and enhance your skill in the latter.”
Also, in his own words, “L-TAP is a circuit connecting knowledge sources with seeker sinks to light up new lamps of learning.” T5E certainly hopes this initiative takes off to an enthusiastic response.
This article was originally published in The Fifth Estate– The publication of IIT-Madras.