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Koffee with Mr Menon

Abhinav Kumar | Staff Writer

On Sunday, the 23rd of October 2016, a few days after TechTatva wrapped up, ASME Manipal organized an interactive session for students with Mr Neil Menon in NLH 203. An alumnus of Manipal, Mr Neil Menon is a man of many passions. He is a physicist, writer, and a scholar in the field of material sciences and nanotechnology.

The idea behind the talk was for it to be an interactive session, where students could ask questions, giving students a glimpse of Mr Menon’s life, his experiences, and how he became a physicist. The event delivered on its promise, with roughly sixty people showing up for the event.

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Once the speaker was introduced to the audience, the event was underway.  The questions asked at the beginning were mostly about his life, his upbringing, and about pursuing his passion. Mr Menon was at his best as a speaker, entertaining all gathered with numerous anecdotes, talking about how his mom was from Assam, and his dad from Kerala, and then talking about how flexibility is important when pursuing your passion. He then received questions on his research, and about new developments in the field of material science. He delved into the intricacies of nanotechnology and its numerous applications in layman’s terms, ensuring that the audience was able to understand.

Once the technical questions ran out, Neil Menon entertained questions from those gathered on his life experiences and his ideals. One member of the audience asked him how he got into Quora (where he has a staggering 11,500 followers) and he discussed his initial skepticism of the platform, and how he fell in love with it after a while. Mr Menon then discussed the power of patience, and the magic possessed by time. He talked about how he almost gave up on his PhD multiple times, and only kept going by doing goal oriented work and being patient.  With a soft chuckle, he added that his scholarship money running out in four years was also a powerful motivating factor.

Wrapping up his talk, Mr Neil Menon talked about the change needed in the Indian education system, and how grade related evaluation is harmful. The organizers then held a vote of appreciation where he was offered a memento and flowers. His engaging personality and irreverent humour made for a delicious cocktail, which when paired with his writing skills ensured that the event went off without any hitches, and was enjoyed by everyone present.

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