Srishti Jain witnessed two college events that showcased India’s future engineers gearing up to show the world that ‘This happens only in India’
When Chaplin criticized the Machine age in his masterpiece ‘Modern Times’ he was aware that soon man would become over-dependent on his own creations and this would lead to a technologically advanced world but a mentally diminished human species. Today with illiteracy, poverty and basic sanitation still looming over our nation, talks about Mumbai becoming Shanghai, and our railway stations becoming Tokyo are only proving that machine and technology have overtaken the basic needs of man. In this never-ending debate on technology being a boon or curse - one thing is for sure, it has not taken away man’s intelligence and has only enhanced man’s will to create a better tomorrow . The 3rd of July saw the event hosting of two of Mumbai’s most prestigious engineering colleges that have the potential of changing the face of India and putting it on the global map in the field of technology. K.J Somaiya College of Engineering unveiled “ARION 2012”.
This formula styled race car was designed and built by the undergraduate students of K.J. Somaiya over an entire year. The race-car unlike any other has specially been constructed to participate in the Formula SAE Competition which is the biggest international competition of engineering students across countries. Organized by the Society of Automobile Engineers (SAE), the Formula SAE is an ‘Engineering Design Competition’ that challenges the creativity and imagination of students. “At the competition, the finished product is judged and scrutinized by industry professionals. The inspiration to work on such a project comes from the love of building cars along with the fact that theoretical text-book knowledge fails to teach us many aspects of engineering that are required to be competitive in the real world. In addition to striving for technical excellence, the program also demands students to excel in team co-operation and resource management, closely resembling the real-world business and engineering environment,” says Avinash Divecha of the ORION RACING India Team. Shunning the preconceived notion that engineering students are the geeks without a creative streak Avinash says, “Engineering students are extremely creative if given the right foundation and the means to express their creativity. Formula SAE competitions are a great platform for students to innovate and think out-of-the-box. The diversity of the cars at these competitions and the differences among them are proof of the huge pool of creativity available within engineering students.”
The star of the show “The Arion” (The Formula car built by the students) is the lightest and the most advanced car ever built by Orion Racing India. “This year we have used a lot of new technologies in the design and manufacturing stages like 3D scanning which were not used before. We have also incorporated Paddle Shifting to change gears which is very similar to the method in Formula One. Also, we have invested a lot of sensors to get data which has helped us validate and improve our designs,” says Avinash regarding the car and the features that they tried to incorporate. So while on one hand the Arion was unleashed upon the Formula1 tracks on the other, students of IIT Mumbai were pursuing a technological revolution of their own with ‘ROBOTS’. When we watch Science Fiction films we are transported into a futuristic world that we often don’t believe can exist. With gigantic spaceships and evil robots, reality often takes an entire new dimension.
Plunging forward towards this futuristic era is the initiative ‘E-Yantra’ – a pan India challenge on Robots which was launched at IIT Mumbai on the 3rd of July. While other challenges expect students to build their own robots, E-Yantra presents them with a robot developed at IIT-Bombay, and encourages them to develop solutions to pre-set tasks using these robots. This makes robotics accessible to students - registered in an Engineering College as undergraduates. This platform harnesses the intellectual talent of Gen-next and probes them to create utility based robot applications. These Robots can be used in innumerable applications such as agriculture, manufacturing, defense, home, city maintenance and services industries. The overall mission is to grow a rich eco-system of ideas and applications that can propel India’s growth curve and productivity through intelligent funneling of robotics in daily living built upon an existing pool of knowledge.
Imagine an India where robots are ploughing fields and purifying sea water or robots helping a paraplegic to walk and become independent in performing his daily activities. The Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) sponsors E-Yantra under the National Mission for ICT in Education (NMEICT) program. The initiative seeks to provide hands-on learning-infrastructure to engineering students who have limited access to labs and mentors. Professors Kavi Arya and Krithi Ramamritham of the institute’s CSE Department have conceptualized E-Yantra after years of experience in teaching embedded systems. Speaking about Project E-Yantra, Professor Kavi Arya, said, “India is at an interesting evolutionary moment in the global stage. We need to harness the youthful talent to solve our country’s problems through innovative applications in the field of robotics. For instance, why can’t we create a ‘Jhaddo-Khatka’ robot, which can be deployed across public and private spaces? An important part of this initiative is to inspire the youth to look beyond themselves and solve the problems by leveraging their innovative thinking.”
The pan-India E-Yantra challenge is open to all undergraduate students of engineering. Each group will program a given robotic platform to solve a given problem with given resources in a12-week duration. The experience will be taken to the next level through a National Robotics Competition where students from all over India will participate in a theme wise solving of tasks. This climaxes in a final competition at the IITB Techfest in January 2013. Interested participants can register at www.e-yantra.org/register to participate in the challenge. There is a selection where 120 teams of a maximum of 4 members in each will be selected to participate and put through the necessary training to take part in what promises to be an exciting formative experience. Prof. Krithi Ramamritham, co-ordinator of Project E-Yantra, IIT Bombay, said, “This proposal presents an integrated approach for incorporating robotics into secondary and engineering education with the objective of further engaging students through an exciting application of math, computers, and science. Projects are substantial exercises where the basic concepts are used to synthesise a complex application using several concepts to create a useful robotic artifact.”
So with the futuristic era now within our reach and an era of innovative technology looming overhead India’s next generation of engineers are gearing up their prowess and showing the world that ‘This Happens Only In India’.