Engineering is meant to be a field that offers unlimited scope for innovation and creativity. But to what extent this is true in our engineering colleges is debatable.

When aspiring engineers watched the movie ‘3 Idiots', they fully identified themselves with the clash of intentions — the faculty members emphasising on examination scores while the students would rather apply skills they picked up during the course to create fascinating possibilities to aid the future generations.

‘Quest Ingenium 2012', the finals of which was held in Bangalore last week, was a revelation of what engineering students could produce if given the right platform. From superhero robots to UAVs that can reach inaccessible areas, the competition threw up some promising creations.From applications from over 200 colleges, the best nine were chosen to showcase their ingenious skills. The competition began in October 2011 when participants were asked to prepare projects based on topics related to aerospace, mechanical engineering, electrical electronics, and industrial engineering. After an internal evaluation, the best nine were shortlisted for the finals.

Gopalakrishna M. Kamath, stress specialist at Bombardier Aerospace, Bangalore; Gopalan Jagadeesh, Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Science (IISc); C.V. Venugopalan, chief engineer, Quest, Bangalore; and U. Chandrashekhar, additional director at Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE), were the jury members.

Here is a lowdown on a few projects.

Design and Development of Multilink Spatial Hyper Redundant Robot presented by Tech Asimovs, from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore: (This was the winning project of the competition)

The group developed a robot that is unique in nature compared to conventional robots. The structure resembles an elephant trunk.

The group focused on the efficiency of the serial manipulator (multilink spatial hyper redundant robot), which may be able to reduce the dependence on human energy particularly in a challenging environment (such as nuclear disasters).

The team members informed the audience that they were currently working on the design of one such manipulator.

Renewable Energy Management Energy presented by Foot Step Power Generation, from Hyderabad Institute of Technology and Management, Hyderabad:

The project showcased the generation of electrical power as a non-conventional method by simply walking or running.

The project showed how non-conventional energy using footsteps can be used to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy.

A piezoelectric sensor along with embedded technology may be used for this purpose.

This makes the system efficient and reliable. A microcontroller and liquid crystal display (LCD) are some of the requirements for this model.

Photon Lighting System presented by Photon, from Kakatiya Institute of Technology and Science, Warangal:

With a vision to illuminate the future, the Photon group presented its model which focussed primarily on the conservation of energy and generation of the same through other renewable means. The usage of electric power and photon lighting to generate energy is the main idea behind the project.

The group threw light on the concept of photon lighting and explained how the mechanism of photon lighting is a modification of the solar lighting system.

The sun, which was a main source, is being replaced by an electric bulb.The advantages of this model include: no direct power supply, eco-friendly, economical (cost is approx Rs. 350) and its compact size.

The model can be used to supply continuous power which is being stored in battery, as well as to charge mobiles, in battery-driven calling bells and household lighting systems.