Technovation is expected to give students a better platform to showcase technical projects.
“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s IIT-Bombay’s first Ornithopter!” is what the students of IIT-Bombay will soon be saying.
The Ornithopter is one of six projects that started off in a unique initiative ‘Technovation’ this year at IIT-Bombay.
Akshay Dandekar, a third year Aerospace Engineering student says, “An Ornithopter is an aircraft which flies by flapping its wings instead of having fixed wings which we see in aircraft today.”
Akshay, who has been working in the team of three for nearly a year on this project, says that he hopes to see the aircraft ready by February 2013.
So, what is Technovation? Technovation was started two years ago by a few students who were unhappy with the technical projects scene at IIT.
Ashay Tejwani, a third year Materials Science student who is working on his own project ‘Parinath’ says, “Previously the opportunities for tech in IIT as a freshman were limited.
There were a couple of competitions that took place during the semester, but they served as gateways to the tech scene, and didn’t go into much depth.
In my own project ‘Parinath’, which is a first of its kind humanoid robot capable of mimicking human responses and transforming them into a vehicle—like in the movie Transformers, I have eight freshmen actively take part in making the bot.
Ashwin Paranjape, a third year CSE student and this year’s Technovation Manager, says, “A lot of students have ideas that cannot be made into institute-level projects. Technovation acts as an incubator, by providing them with support in terms of funding, a mechanism to grow in and also helping with the expertise from a number of seniors. The screening for projects that are accepted into Technovation is rigorous as we are currently have a limited budget, but of the six projects that were selected this year, I am reasonably sure that they will all be completed soon.”
The senior students involved in Technovation claim that one of the biggest advantages is that the technical nature of the projects is not a barrier for freshmen to take part in the project and feel alienated in any manner.
We can see there is a huge freshmen participation in each of the six projects undertaken this year.
Akash, Prateek and Kalpesh, all second year Mechanical students say that their project on a ‘self-balancing skateboard’ was primarily based on Inertial Measurement Units (IMUs) which use a Gyroscope and an Accelerometer. While these are a bit technical, any freshman who is involved in the project for a reasonable duration of time can learn how to use them.
Projects that are selected for Technovation are generally pet projects of the students involved.
The selectors look for some real-world application of the projects. Sudheer, a fourth year Electrical student working on a ‘Tum-Tum Tracker’, named after the little buses called Tum-Tums that run within the IIT-Bombay Campus says, “When the project is complete, the Tum Tum Tracker can give an accurate position of each bus in the IIT Campus to every student on a Google Map. While it currently works on GPS with a limited range, if equipped with a GPRS with a larger range, it could even be expanded to a city-wide scale !”
So, what is the way forward with Technovation? “Currently we are not very well publicised on campus, so we hope to improve the situation this year by coming out with many successful projects. We do not have enough representation among the professors. But, a new project ‘Powai Lake Breather’ taken directly under the Dean, R&D, and a few other professors will hopefully improve the situation.
I am also hopeful that once Technovation establishes itself, we can take part in various exhibitions as it is always good for a team to showcase its efforts,” says Ashwin.
The writer is a student of IIT, Mumbai.