IIT Fest to Focus on Environment, Rural Aid, Empowering Rural Folk

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CHENNAI: This year, Shaastra, the annual technical festival of the Indian Institute of Technology – Madras, will be all about saving the environment and empowering people in rural areas to do the same. It will be held from September 28 to October 2.

The Shaastra Social Innovation Challenge, a new event, is expected to have a direct impact on rural India. The problem statement includes designing a solar cooker to replace traditional wood-based cooking and designing a fully autonomous robot that can segregate municipal waste.

For the contest, the robot will be required to sort among plastic bags, food waste, metals and glass. “The problem statements tackle a technical socio-centric issue which poor rural people in the country are facing. The winner and that particular model will be implemented in a nearby village. The event aims to use engineering talent to resolve some of the problems plaguing rural India,” said Tejas Balasubramanya, member of the public relations and media team of Shaastra 2011.

The top designs will gain entry to the Climate Healers Global Challenge and stand a chance of being field tested in rural Rajasthan. The winners can also get recognised by the Ministry of Urban Development and National Waste Management Council and the United Nations Development Program. Registration for the event ends on September 12.

For the inter-university sustainability challenge, colleges teams from across the country will pit themselves against each other to see who can make the biggest difference to their campuses by making them more sustainable. The projects cover themes such as energy, water, waste management, social media and awareness, and community. Depending on the number of projects completed and their difficulty level, the top six teams will be invited to Shaastra for the final round. In addition to a hefty cash prize, the winning teams will also attend an environmental training and certification programme by the Copenhagen Communique, the Federal Ministry of German Research and Education Initiative. Registration ends on September 15.

“IIT-M was recently given an award for filing the maximum number of patents. The event is planned in order to interest students in research,” Tejas said. The expo will stage through models, demonstrations and poster displays, research in aerospace, biotechnology, civil, chemical, computer science, electrical, mechanical, ocean and metallurgy departments, while focusing on sustainability, socio-economic impact and human development.V

Visitors to the fest can view the demonstration of products of research projects being taken up by various departments and teams at the institute. The expo will be an interactive initiative with a display of prototypes and will have researchers explaining the details to interested students.

Source: The Times of India (link opens in a new window)