The Lecture Annexure: A Critical Review
The Lecture Annexure (LA) is one of the iconic buildings in the institute. All students, regardless of branch, programme or course have attended classes in the LA at some point during their stay in NIT Rourkela. Hence, it is imperative that an ideal learning environment with the best ergonomics be established to develop some of the finest minds in the making. With a twin under construction since March 2013, the Lecture Annexure is the central building where the various common courses for multiple departments would take place.
Prof. Susmita Mishra, the professor-in-charge for LA, answered a few questions, addressing the current problems and justifying the recent developments.
Ventilation and Cooling
The classrooms in the basement of the LA have been fitted with ventilators, to make them more suitable for the conduction of classes. Considering the claustrophobic architecture of the classrooms at the basement, the decision of installing ventilators at the basement is every bit justified, save perhaps the timing of it – it should have been done much earlier.
Prof. Susmita Mishra points out another less obvious but positive offshoot of the decision – “Now it would be possible to install projectors in the rooms at the basement. We couldn’t do it earlier owing to the fear of theft. The installation of the ventilators would seal the basement of any passageways that may go unchecked by the security guards.” However, there are no plans to install similar systems in other floors; which is disappointing considering the poor ventilation that the other floors share as well.
The bathrooms in the building also lack exhaust fans, which has not been brought to the attention of the professor yet, and will soon be rectified.
One of the persistent issues that have plagued the classrooms in LA has been with the projectors. The advent of technology has made the job of the faculty as well as the students easier. While the faculty find it easier to teach using slides, accurate diagrams and videos, the students are able to grasp the concepts that much quicker with audio-visual aid. This makes projectors and indispensable part of classroom teaching in NITR. Some projectors have loose connections, persistent problems with the colour and quality of image projected. The underground classrooms do not have projectors forcing the students to shift to other rooms whenever a course requires the use of a projector. Adding to that is the theft of projectors from a few rooms. With procurement of new projectors and the repairs of damaged ones delayed due to the associated red tape, it seems that the problem is here to stay.
Mr. Nityanand Pattnaik, the caretaker of LA, cites a possible reason for the delay in replacing damaged equipment or purchasing new ones – the absence of a buffer fund for the purchase of equipment. Prof. Mishra admits it to be a problem, due to the protocol that has been defined by the new government, which requires extensive billings to be produced for each purchase.
Addressing the problem of poor acoustics in the classrooms, Prof. Susmita Mishra admits the limitation of measures to solve the problem. She is quick to dismiss any complaints of unavailability of speakers in the room, citing that the need for a speaker in the classroom can be immediately met by maintenance. Prof. Mishra, who is a faculty in the department of chemical engineering, invites technological suggestions from students to overcome the acoustics-related problem in the classrooms.
Easy to access water fountains are installed at various locations inside LA making it one of the only buildings in the whole campus where problems due to drinking water are truly rare if not absent.
Despite being a technological institute of national importance, the ergonomics in the design of various rooms within the institute are far from optimal; with the LA not being an exception. Several rooms in the LA are quite large with a relatively small blackboard present in the centre, leading to problems with visibility of the board as well as audibility of the instructor’s lectures. These are however, quite difficult to solve, barring major constructional overhaul of the entire building. Hopefully, the lessons learnt from this LA will not be repeated in its twin and better ergonomics will be kept in mind when the classrooms are constructed.