Published: 27th May 2017
Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram-Name it all. This Professor is everywhere to help you
Putting practical application of theories at the forefront of his teaching, Dr Thangakumar J, an Assistant Professor from Hindustan University talks about how he makes classrooms fun and interactive
All theory and no practical makes dull student is a well-known fact. Dr. Thangakumar Jeyaprakash is of the same opinion. “If students learn only theory they will go mad,” he quips. Dr. Thangakumar has been an Assistant Professor at Hindustan University, Chennai, for about nine years and till date, he makes his classes as interactive as possible.
The 35-year-old who hails from Thoothukudi is a professor in the Computer Science and Engineering department and was inspired by his own teachers who made classes fun and interactive. The professor is omnipresent on social media right from Facebook to Instagram.
A website, the projects he helms, the techniques he adopts to explain concepts — all these and more make Dr Thangakumar Jeyaprakash stand out. Shot to fame with the Know Your Candidate application, the professor continues to guide students with innovative ideas
He even resorts to WhatsApp to clear his students’ doubts. His tech savvy attitude is what prompted him to upload his lectures online on his website.
Dr. Thangakumar also organizes role plays (yes, in a computer science class) for concepts which can be taught through this medium - like hacking. The concept plays out in front of the students, ensuring that “they remember it forever, like a movie,” he says.
Dr. Thangakumar has four projects that are patented. The first one being a Driving Assistance Device (DAD) which alerts the driver in advance in case of a sudden break, alerting the driver of an impending accident using GPS navigation.
Another project that he helped take off is for the visually impaired to move without anyone’s support through blind navigation via audible information and haptic feedback. All this and much more have fallen under the tutelage of the professor, but he is best known for the Know Your Candidate application which made headlines in all major publications.
“I motivate my students to do research in their areas of interest,” he says.
The idea came to him during a simple phone call. “During the 2014 elections, I asked a student who was the candidates contesting in his constituencies but he didn’t know. Then I got the idea of this app,” he says. These projects, even the incomplete ones, help the students in terms of practical application of theories and in the long run, even help them obtain jobs.
He also indulges his students in crosswords and chart-making - all in a bid to make it more interesting for them. Bringing in the practical factor, he also urges students to apply to different national and international innovation competitions.
Dr. Thangakumar shares the anecdote of a student who proposed but did not complete an idea, but during placements, he spoke about it and was placed with Infosys. “He called me later to thank me for motivating him to pursue the project,” he recalls fondly. Speaking about Computer Science as a subject, Dr. Thangakumar says that it is an “evergreen subject”.
But as the technology is constantly upgrading itself, “students must also equip themselves to remain relevant in the industry,” says the professor who has 11 years of teaching experience. The importance of computer science is on the rise and will continue to be in the future, thanks to Make in India, he opines.
Evergreen Subject: Thangakumar feels that computer science will hold significance for all the ages that are ahead
“As we are moving towards Digital India, computer science has never been so relevant,” the professor says, adding that the country needs more computer science graduates brimming with ideas. And what do these graduates need to open up their horizons and see an idea in every opportunity? “All they need to have is interest,” he points out, a spark that will kindle the bright future of this country.