The making of Treasure Hunt

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20 Teams register. Some calculations showed we’ll be able to manage 15 of them. Elimination Round was all we needed to filter the teams out. First Day of Treasure Hunt and huge response! People were really excited about the first of it’s kind activity being held at the college. On stake were one thousand bucks.

What kind of questions for the Elimination Round of a ‘Treasure Hunt’ thats supposed to be a ‘IT (Information Technology) Event’? Some of my previous experience, got me to put anagrams on the quiz sheet. The dictionary defines the anagrams as a word or phrase formed by reordering the letters of another word or phrase, such as satin to stain. That’s got something to do with cryptography. One reason the event was being organized by the IT Cell and was deemed a “Technical Treasure Hunt”.

Looking for more information on cryptography? Here wikipedia has lot’s of it.

Everything goes fine. People just love solving the anagrams, and the list cuts to just 15 teams.

But here we have the Challenge # 1. Finalizing a date for the finals. No classes can be cancelled, and people won’t like to stay for too long after 4. What do we do? More over there are Lab Viva’s and tests in between. Then there is the Second Test that’s coming up. But finally we get a date. One day 2 hours. Shouldn’t that be enough. Wait I didn’t tell you what  exactly had to be done?

The contestants have to decode clues. Clues that point to a location in the campus. Reach that location and answer another question and also complete a task. An IT Task. Yes, something like programming.

That brings me to Challenge #2. Since this event was being organized by the IT Cell, it had to be related to IT. Rs. 1000 won’t come easy.  Preparing the C questions was actually not a challenge. But  convincing people was. But thanks to the co-operative friends, there were no revolts on the inclusion of the easy programs.

Seemed all set. The clues were ready a month before. The treasure hunt team held several meetings and brainstorming sessions of how we could prevent people using unfair means. How could the system be fool-proof. But how were we going to communicate the clues? We thought that we’d SMS the clues. SMS the clues through mobile phones? No. Through the internet (way2sms.com). Sounded cool.  Messages being sent through internet, and received on the phone. People had to communicate with us, through the mobile phone.  All ready for the final day…

Managing the Teams. Challenge #3. As I just mentioned, all just “seemed” perfect. Did you think 15 teams was too much for a small campus? If yes, you were right. These 15 teams weren’t the school teams I had seen and organized events with at computer symposiums. These were a team of first year college students. Let me tell you these were actually 15*2 = 30 people in all. Okay now picture this. 30 people , right before me, “excited and enthusiastic”. An un-explainable situation.  The Treasure hunt was being organized really professionally. We had the control room. The computer room actually, which was locked for the participants.

System Failure. Challenge #4. Cool ideas are cool enough only when they work. The much talked about messaging system failed just at the right time. How do we send the messages now? No problems, we had people with message packs on some qwerty keyboard phones. So now the mobiles took over. By the time we couldn’t even message everybody,  we started getting replies. Replies giving answers, asking for hints. And there were people constantly banging at the door who hadn’t yet received the message! We had the message packs and so did the participants. So these were not single messages from a team, it was multiple messages.

Tension Inside. Fun Outside. Challenge #5. As all this happened, we were falling short of time. As things were going out of control inside the control room, everybody started to panic. So we decided to call the teams one by one inside our secretive room  to give clues and “settle scores”! Meanwhile, people were having enormous fun outside. There was full on cheating (though it drowned some teams), the clues were a fun to solve , there was running around, all for the first time ever on a usually boring college day. So it was indirectly a successful day for us. Though now we needed another day to continue, with the treasure hunt.  And luckily we managed to get this quickly. We now had just 10 teams competing for the final spot.

Success Finally. We learned from our mistakes. We abolished the messaging system. Every round now became an elimination round. After the first round we eliminated 2 teams and thereafter eliminated half of the total teams every round.  From 8 to 4, 4 to2 and finally the winners. How did we do that?  The order of the events changed to:

1. Find a output to a C program.

2. Whoever finishes first gets a location clue, and runs to the location and take the picture.

3. Teams that return back first, get selected. For rounds where half of the teams were eliminated, we introduced competition between 2  teams by giving the same clues.

Here’s what the winners Tarun and Anuraag had to say (text in pic below):

Winners Word Winner's Word

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Annexure A. The treasure hunt clues and solutions.

Annexure B. The Elimination Round

P.S. You may use the clues and questions for your own treasure hunt. Don’t forget to see the licence details on your right though!

Special Thanks to the Treasure Hunt Team. Puneet, Abhikul, Vaibhav, Ashutosh, Nikhil and Tushar. (Random Order)
And to my friend from the times of school, Mridul for troubleshooting and new ideas.

The Deemed University Menace. JIIT, Noida not yet de-recognized.

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You realize the fact of how media un-proportionally blows up on a certain issue only when you are directly connected to it. What makes me get to this is that recently my college Jaypee Institute of Information Technology (JIIT), Noida was unfortunately black listed in the universities to be de-recognized by the Union Grants Commission (UGC), Government of India.

Speaking about the current status of my college, it has got the ‘Status Quo’ by the Honbl’ Supreme Court of India. That’s a different part of the story though. The more important point is how the information presented to the people by the media has not only dented the reputation of the black listed colleges but also of the students studying there. Most of the news channels and the newspapers quoted comments from the Government representatives or education experts but there was no feedback from the university authorities. Shouldn’t the news we read in the newspapers give us a more complete picture.
What this has led to is that most people know JIIT Noida or any of the listed college for that matter  is being de-recognized. They have no idea of the previous reputations of the colleges or their education facilities. Simply because they didn’t read about that in the newspaper or heard about that in the news!
The more direct impact on the students has been that whenever there is a discussion about the college they are studying in there is always that unsaid negative image that is formed about the institute. So travelling in the metro or going to college fests I have heard people saying “See these guys are from JIIT. The college that has been recently de-recognized”.
I am not getting into the defense for my college, but trying to bring forward to you a more broader outlook of what actually the situation is. What most newspaper reports read was that the colleges lacked infrastructure. I can’t be commenting about the other colleges, but anybody who has visited JIIT Noida Sec-62 campus could tell you if at all the campus lacks infrastructure. As for the misconception that the university lacks courses in Mechanical or Civil Engineering etc. , the university has been declared as an IT University. An institute that can be called a university even if it doesn’t have these courses. And all the courses are accredited by the apex authority All India Council for Technical Council (AICTE). The education quality is also at par with the most private institutions of the country.

What’s has happened is that despite proper education environment (according to the previous reports by the same authority about 6 months back) the institute has been black listed. There has been no elaborate report in the limelight on what it is actually wrong. Is it fair enough, to eliminate deemed universities just because their number abruptly grown in the country?

Again, not questioning the credibility of the decision made by the Government Authorities but just putting forward a simple logic point, shouldn’t the decision that involves the future of over 2 Lac students be dealt more delicately?

If there is any truth to the reports against the colleges, it is yet to be brought out.

I don’t intend to advertise or speak highly about my institute, but to put the message that let’s stop making judgments and form opinions be it on any issue with just bits and pieces of information we have.