Percy meets Poseidon
Like most kids, I was just a naive freshman entering this institute awestruck. I had the misconception that I knew how to code in Python and SQL (which broke down shockingly fast when I started doing actual development. Turns out
for i in range(100): print(“Hello world”)
Can only take you so far.) I had tried my hands on data science in school, but that too was on a very superficial level, with some knowledge of NumPy. MatPlotLib and Pandas [All thanks to the Informatics Practices course I took in school] I tried attending the Intro Talks of most, if not all, technical clubs under the Student Technical Council(STC), but being the distracted soul I was, I used to zone out, doing my own thing while the host blabbered on. It was during the SDSLabs Intro Talk that I suddenly heard, “We were banned from Deloitte CTF for doing too well; Rootex is our very own 3D game engine”. I had no clue what a CTF or Game Engine was, but I knew it was a huge deal. That’s when I decided, “No way in hell will I ever get recruited in this club.” It was during this time that I met Ashutosh Shrivastav, an SDSLabs fanboy who used to rave on and on about how cool the club was. All the while, I was thinking, “Impossible that I ever get in.”
That’s when it happened, Syntax Error hackathon! SDSLab’s first big event and my first hackathon! Completely thrilled, me and Ashutosh made a team together. We created an Air guitar. When he first suggested this idea, I readily said yes (while on the inside thinking, “Isn’t this project wayyy too ambitious? Are we even gonna be able to pull this off?”). There I was, watching tutorials at 2x speed, reading random codes to figure out what was happening. We celebrated small victories, like when we were finally able to detect our hand moving up and down 😂 I still remember it was 3 AM in the morning, and I couldn’t get this music to play at all. That’s when we hopped into the SDSLabs Open discord server, where Archit (who is a year senior to me in SDSLabs) was there to help us. Finally, we made the project, gave a presentation, and…. Well, that was it. Then came the dreadful waiting period where we (im)patiently waited for the results to be announced. and YES, WE RANKED 2nd IN THE OVERALL CATEGORY! Well, that was a great memory, and I made a friendship that I would cherish for years to come.[Hopefully, I mean currently, it’s just been a year]
Then came the [“insert dramatic sound”]…
The Trials of Apollo
I was still unsure about my capabilities to become a part of SDSLabs, but Syntax Error gave me the confidence boost I needed. SDSLabs organizes many events where the winners get a chance for a direct interview to SDSLabs- Syntax Error, Makers, Winter of Code, NoobCTF, Beginner’s Hypothesis, and so much more! I participated in Syntax Error and Makers, and I still remember when I went to get my Makers’ project reviewed. I entered the SDSLabs room in SAC with shaky legs. I am not sure how to describe it. There was an aura of knowledge, discussions going on about topics I had no clue about but everything seemed so fascinating. It turns out that despite making a seemingly complex project (It was a contactless laptop), my code was breaking down due to a simple ‘if condition’ [When it was pointed out to me, I was so confused, “Am I that stupid?”]. That was my last interaction with SDSLabs, or at least that’s what I thought. I still remember the call, “Your interview is scheduled for tomorrow at 10 AM” I was so paranoid about missing it, I remember telling three of my friends to wake me up, and went to sleep at 11 PM sharp. I went for the interview, which happened in 2 rounds, first was problem-solving. I remember well that as all panels of round 2 were occupied, my round 1 dragged on. The second round was based on my interests and general development. As I knew just python, I was asked a bunch of questions about that, and other stuff. I remember being panicky as I always was, but a 3y CSE senior Angad Kambli who was in that panel, just kept smiling, giving me the confidence boost I needed that maybe I was not doing that poorly. I tried to answer the questions to the best of my capabilities. Then the recruitment test happened. I gave that, too, just to be sure. I answered the questions, tried to do my best, and kept my fingers crossed. Then suddenly out of the blue, I got a call, “Hello, your final interview is scheduled right now.” I remember I was in Govind Bhawan at the time and ran as fast as I could to Labs, out of breath, I entered the room and gave the interview. Cut to 24 hours later…
The Owl Arrives
I remember getting the call. Ashutosh had just called me a few minutes back about how he got into Labs. That made me think maybe all the calls are made, and alas, what I feared has happened. Suddenly an unknown caller. I shouted in the middle of the road, all excited, and confirmed twice if they were sure they had called the right person. When we went for our initiation the next day, I was convinced they would stop me midway, saying, “Wait, we think someone pranked you.” But nope, it was all so real! We had our Intro Chapo and were added to the Slack workspace. I chose my username to be “percy” being a huge Percy Jackson fan [Later, I learned that Lab’s own PC, where most of the heavy processing work happens, is named Poseidon, which I found a happy coincidence] Most of the 2nd semester was filled with lectures and assignments where we learned a lot. After the assignments, we were introduced to various ongoing Labs projects as well as previous projects. This actually opened my eyes to what all is out there, so much to learn, and just damn!
We were then assigned our minors [Basically we are assigned a small issue on an existing Labs project which we have to complete within 2 weeks], and I chose mine, which revolved around graphics and one based on reading some research papers. We were given two weeks to complete it. I remember sitting in labs with Pragyansh or Archit, trying to make the head or tail of the project. At one moment, we practically created the American Psycho meme, with me saying, “It’s just not possible!” and Pragyansh saying, “Why isn’t it possible you…..!?” [Paraphrasing, of course]
The Triwizard Tournaments
Next came the hackathons. We participated in some national-level hackathons, as well as organised an internal hackathon too. Those are some of the best memories I have of the members of Labs. Intense 24-48 hours coding sprints trying to create a complete product that is impressive and probably the best and fastest way I have learned stuff. I remember I had a team with Tanmay (EE 2y) and Pragyansh (CSE 3y), and while all the other teams making their own project, we started screaming at the top of our lungs because our code started working unexpectedly, and everyone was just looking at us. To date, I am open to anyone telling me what happened there 😂
Then came the internal sprints. I remember sitting in Labs one day, trying out Cryptography when suddenly Aditya (CSE 3y) asks me, “Kya karr rha hai?” I reply nothing, just random stuff. “Sprint karega? Chapo Milegi”. That was enough to buy me. We sat writing the frontend code of one of our projects for 48 hours straight, aiming to complete about 50% of the website. The best part was we wrote it in Svelte, a framework that not just me but none of our seniors had ever tried. In fact, as I am writing this blog, another sprint is going on to finish a dev project. I am glad for these because the amount of intense learning that happens within the span of these 48 hours of coding is probably more than I, with my distractions, can ever accomplish in a week.
“We are more than a club. SDSLabs is a family.” This is something that I have come to believe in this period of 1 year. Whether it’s personal life ki BT, or some tech mishap, I can always rely on Labs members and alumni. Hell, I had an anxiety attack at 4 AM in the morning, and I wrote a huge rant to one of the Alums and asked him to guide me, and he helped me out so much. Whether it’s random yearning for walks around the campus, hankering for RKB Tapri Maggi at 4 AM, or anything. Maybe something very frivolous has been bothering me, they have always been there :) From Button smashing while playing Tekken 3, or playing Minecraft, or anything! SDSLabs is genuinely a place I always feel at home.
I always yearned for a crowd or group with whom I could relate and have fun discussing random tech stuff. I couldn’t say that is the case with the entire IIT Roorkee, but absolutely true for Labs. This is a place where no matter how weird or random your interest might be, you will definitely find someone to talk to and vibe with. Random senior shouting, “Yaar mai kya genius hu”., At which moment you would go and ask them about this very cool thing they have achieved. You probably wouldn’t understand it, but you will get some of it, google most of it, ask more and more questions, and learn so so soooo much. Sometimes randomly, your senior, while preparing for an intern or placement test, will learn something new, and will teach you something cool!
I had a fantastic year at SDSLabs. Just writing all of this, the memories came pouring back. I can’t express in words what this all meant to me and what it all was. Just amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Looking back, I guess this is just 10-20% of my actual Labs experiences, but it’s pretty boring as is XD, so I’ll leave you to be. Bye!