DNA | Wednesday, 19 August 2015 | Place: Mumbai | Kanchan Srivastava |
In June 2014, when four final year BTech students from the Thadomal Shahani College of Engineering got their marksheets, they were in for a shock. Be the change. Accept the challenge. When four Mumbai University students did this, it made a difference to the lives of 1.5 lakh students in over 800 colleges. And forever changed the way University’s most crucial and controversial department –examination house– functions. In June 2014, when four final year BTech students from the Thadomal Shahani College of Engineering got their marksheets, they were in for a shock. Hirak Modi, Marmik Pandya, Girish Prabhu and Dev Mehta (from computer science and IT streams) realised that the marks in one paper were much less than what they expected. The photocopy of the answersheets proved they deserved better. The foursome decided to approach the exam house of the university.As with most students, they, too, had to do several rounds. “We used to wait from morning till late evening to get an audience with the Controller of Exams. After a month and a half, we met him,” Hirak told dna.The wait was worth it. Controller Dinesh Bhonde was convinced that the boys had a point. “He then sought to know about us and our future plans and asked if we could help him in streamlining the system,”Marmik said.
The students, all in their early 20s, were surprised. They were apprehensive, too, as they were already hired by big companies and had started working for them. Besides, they were preparing for post-graduate courses in foreign universities and didn’t have time to spare. But Bhonde won them over. The four took up the challenge and started working from November 2014. They were asked to write programmes to make engineering examination forms, hall tickets and entry of marks online. “With the help of their programme, we could declare the engineering results of 40,000 candidates in the first and final years of 2014-15 in a record time of one month, Hiring them turned out to be a good move. We asked them to sit with us and design the programme as per our suggestions,” said Bhonde. Bhonde also gives them credit for writing a programme, through which, for the first time, MU managed to provide degree certificates to all 1.5 lakh candidates in the university in 800-plus colleges early this year together. “Their programme also has options for spelling corrections, which was made available to all candidates before going for printing. This helped us curb usual errors that creep into the Marathi version of citation in the degree.”
The team used PhP (server side scripting language for web programming), Visual Basic, Microsoft Excel and Access to develop some easy, quick and glitch-free programs which can deal with the large amount of data which the University deals with. For commendable work in the first-of-its-kind of internship, the students were paid Rs18,000 per month by the University Job over, Dev and Girish had already joined University of Texas and New York University, respectively. Marmik is set to leave on September 1 to join North Eastern University at Boston. Hirak would leave in December to join South California University, Los Angeles. Before leaving India, Marmik and Hirak are trying to train the exam house staff so that they can pick up from where the students left. As they say, every good story should come to an end. The ‘Four Idiots’ did what they loved and changed the way exam house works. After doing his bit, Bhonde quit as Controller of Exams on Tuesday. Now, is it time for Bollywood to step in? – Courtesy