Writing Retreat

Every once in a while, you come across a day so transformative that you wish you could relive it, albeit in a humorous replay. Today, our writing workshop was one such event. Let’s dive into the delightful shenanigans, shall we?
The day didn’t merely begin. No, it kickstarted—with a breakfast that could rival the best of Sunday brunches, and coffee that promised us Shakespearean prose with just one sip! With our bellies and mugs full, we set forth on our wordy quest.
First order of business? A hearty debate on ‘why we all write papers?’ Quite the existential crisis for an academic, if you ask me.
Our deep dive into the anatomy of a research paper brought us to Jango’s Balance study, or as we affectionately dubbed it, our “whipping gnome” for the day. We donned our dissecting hats and set about breaking down the introduction and methods sections. Who knew paper sections could undergo a post-mortem, eh?
The collective brainpower in the room was palpable. After our dissections, we ventured to refuel. Lunch! A meal worthy of feeding the famished minds eager for the next session.
Dr. Cha then waltzed in with the concept of systematic reviews. Let’s just say, if this was the brain gym, we’d all have mental six-packs by now. So stimulating was the discussion that you could almost see the light bulbs popping up above heads.
Then, the pièce de résistance: our live dissection of the results and discussion sections. With the basics covered, we were thrown into the deep end. The challenge? To write the introduction of a manuscript, be it something we’re mulling over or a work in progress.
With the clock as our melodramatic overlord, we switched between Google tabs faster than one can say “whipping gnome”. The furious sound of typing could be likened to a concert—each key contributing to our writing symphony.
But every concert needs its critics. Enter Dr. Srinivasan, Dr. Aviles, and Dr. Cha, who sprinkled their wisdom upon our pieces, much like a chef seasoning a gourmet dish. Their insights weren’t just critiques; they were gems of knowledge that would shine on our writing journeys.

The workshop helped us understand our adviser’s expectations and their style of writing. It was also interesting to hear how other students conveyed their research ideas; there was much to learn from them. As the day wrapped up, we stepped out not just as writers, but as artisans of the written word. Each one of us a tad more enlightened, and most certainly less jittery about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as the modern world has it).

Till the next adventure in the world of words! 📝✨

Our Exo Games Journey

It all started when our advisor, Dr. Divya Srinivasan, said, “ASTM is conducting the Exo Games competition. Do you want to build an exoskeleton and participate in the games?” In unison, our voices rang out, “Why not? Let’s exo-do it!” And just like that, from that seemingly ordinary day, we embarked on an extraordinary journey. We landed in London on August 13. You’d expect a traditional English breakfast, right? Wrong. London threw a curveball in its quirky charm: a delightful South Indian twist at Dosa Kada. Jetlag? Pfft, who needs caffeine when you have crispy dosas and hot idlies giving you the kickstart! After our culinary adventure at breakfast, it was time for ‘Lancashire: The Left-sided Saga.’ As if battling post-dosa drowsiness wasn’t enough, we had to fend off every instinct screaming, ‘To the right!’ But, like true driving gladiators, we soldiered on, reminding ourselves with every turn: ‘When in Britain, veer leftward! We managed to arrive at our temporary home in Lancashire in one piece.

Day 1 at the Exo Games: The anticipation was palpable, like waiting to see if your toast lands butter-side up. Decked out in our fresh visitor badges, we breezed through registration, ready to tackle the day’s exciting lineup. Poster presentation was up first, and being Team 1, we had the honor (or was it the pressure?) of setting the tone. Our corporate chic poster was our opening act, with enough razzle-dazzle to make a PowerPoint junkie blush. After all five teams had their moment in the spotlight, a British-flavored lunch beckoned.

Next up, the adrenaline-pumping “Timed Up and Go (TUG) Test.” Sounds easy? Think again. Sit, hustle, return, and park yourself back – all while suited up in an exoskeleton. Rahul, our lab’s athlete, stepped up to the plate with our exo, Sahayak, clocking in at a sizzling 10.4 seconds! But wait, there’s more! Up next: cup stacking. Sounds like child’s play, doesn’t it? Oh, how wrong we were. The anxiety of stacking cups rivaled defusing a bomb, but Rahul, our star player, made it seem like a breeze, setting a blazing record of 8.43 seconds.

A rollercoaster of tension and unintentional cardio later, Hi-tea was our beacon of sanity. And as the caffeine settled in, we braced ourselves for the legendary session with Hugh Herr. Because why not end the day on a high note? Or should I say, a Herr note?

Day 2 at the Exo Games: Ah, dawn at the Exo Games. What could be better? Maybe sleeping in, but that’s besides the point. We kick-started with the “Warehouse Repalletizing” challenge. It’s basically a fancy term for Rahul moving 8 boxes with the help of our trusty “Sahayak” exoskeleton. Think of it as our own version of weightlifting – without the protein shakes. With his back and biceps sufficiently flexed, next up was the ‘Bomb Squad Walk.’ Here, Rahul had to strike a pose of defusing a bomb during a 150m walk. Easy peasy, right? Well, not so fast. Slap on a 20lb weighted vest and hand him 15lb weights in each hand, and suddenly Rahul never felt so overweight. Yet, in true Rahul style, he pulled it off without so much as a puff or a creak from our exoskeleton. Whew!

By then, our stomachs were sending us emergency hunger signals. Post-lunch, it was presentation time. We were the opening act, again. While this slot was made for Alec’s Broadway debut, Vishwajeet leapt in like our understudy-turned-star. We owned that stage, answering everything thrown at us like we’d read the script beforehand. Confidence levels? Through the roof.

But the real show-stealer was our chat with Adam Gorlitsky from the ‘I Got Legs’ foundation. Truly a testament to the power of exoskeletons. Who needs sci-fi when you’ve got the real-life tech helping people “ReEnable” their stride and challenge paralysis head-on? And with that goosebump moment, Day 2 dropped the mic.

Day 3 at the Exo Games: Ah, the grand finale! Our journey at the Exo Games was about to wrap up, and it was time for the award ceremony. The mood? A rollercoaster of hopes, wishes, and sighs. The design and poster competitions? Well, let’s just say we gave it our best shot and the results were…not exactly what we expected. It’s like expecting a unicorn for your birthday and getting a pony instead. Still cool, but not a unicorn. But, plot twist! We snagged first place in the presentation competition! Was it our wit? Our flair? We’ll let you decide. 

But wait, there’s more icing on this cake—we also scooped up third place overall. Medals, certificates, and an inevitable flood of LinkedIn-worthy snaps followed. The Exo Games? Conquered, celebrated, and sealed with a smile. Until next time!

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