Nothing Like Fall 2 at the Institute

If you are a prospective student and reaching out to previous Institute alumni to gather information, there is a greater chance of you hearing about Fall 2 than anything else in their conversation. (Our semesters are broken up into 5-week modules: Fall 1, Fall 2, Fall 3). Fall 2 leaves a mark on the students as being the most demanding module in the whole program, and I can assure you that it is truly the case. To sum up my experience of Fall 2, here is a small quote that I remind myself of:

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

Ernest Hemingway

Fall 2 pushes limits. It tests our capabilities to work as a team and complete multiple projects all at once. One needs to be prepared to handle that pressure and trust the process. To give a sneak peek of what Fall 2 looks like, here is a quick snapshot of what my team accomplished:


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During the 31 days of Fall 2, we submitted 19 assignments. In Fall 2, one can expect

  • time series and decision trees lectures
  • hands-on labs 
  • course quizzes
  • two big team projects: Text analytics presentation and Visualization presentation 
  • final project for time series
  • quiz on decision trees
  • practicum project work

It is easy to get overwhelmed, given the mammoth tasks that lie ahead at the start of Fall 2. But here is my experience of Fall 2 and how I survived.

For the strength of the Pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the Pack

For me, it was the team that kept me going in Fall 2. I realized that every person on the team has certain strengths that they excel at. Relying on the team and trusting that they will do a great job was one of the most important lessons that I had as a team lead. When in doubt, ask shamelessly. Having healthy disagreements and brainstorming sessions will open new perspectives on approaching problems. Each member of the team had a sense of accountability and ownership that helped a lot. Expect to grind long hours in Fall 2, but with the team, you won’t realize the time passing by.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop

The visualization project for me was the toughest part of all the things I needed to accomplish in Fall 2. Going from not having a background in playing tennis or knowing how tennis works to building a dashboard for NC State Women’s Tennis Team was the most satisfying project I have done to date. I relied heavily on my teammates, Dillard and Keya, who made it a fun and exciting project to work on. There were many days when all the logic would come crashing down, and we would all be exhausted and tired, but as a team we conquered it. 

We would go for walks around Centennial Campus, have dinners together, and most importantly spend time with each other watching shows while taking breaks. More than the work, the true sense of being a team helped us in completing that project.

The following picture is from one of the late nights that we had, enjoying “Nathan for You.”

A person and person sitting at a table watching a television

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All’s well that ends well

As much as one gets tired and exhausted at the end of Fall 2, I am sure every student also feels quite accomplished and carries a sense of achievement for the sheer number of tasks that they completed. Reflecting on the journey of Fall 2, I would do it all over again. I made great friends in the homework team, and we got to hang out together over numerous assignments and Diwali Dinner.

Here is a  snapshot of the Diwali Dinner hosted by Keya.

A group of people sitting on a couch

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Fall 2 ends before anyone realizes, so trust the process, and everything will just work out fine.

Columnist: Kishor Neelagiri