Many engineering colleges fail to inculcate problem-solving skills in their students. e – Yantra helps such colleges improve upon their existing facilities.

What happens when you are given a description of an exotic delicacy, its flavour and aroma and even taught the recipe on paper, but neither a sample of the food is given nor are the ingredients provided to cook it? Your appetite is whetted but never satisfied.

This is what many students of robotics and embedded systems are undergoing. They are taught the ‘whys and hows’ but their colleges lack the basic resources and tools to give them a hands-on experience of building their own mechanisms. Recognising this disparity, professors Krithi Ramamritham and Kavi Arya of IIT-Bombay initiated the launch of their pet project e-Yantra Lab Set-up Initiative (eLSI), a Ministry of Human Resource Development-sponsored project under the National Mission for Education in ICT (NMEICT) programme.

The main aim of the initiative is to get students interested and engaged in robotics and embedded systems by helping their colleges set up a fully-functioning lab and training the teachers to take ownership of the course.

Getting hands-on

“The idea is to evolve a system that makes it easier to teach robotics. An engineer should be someone who solves a problem in society. But, going by the current educational system, students only read the books and reproduce the material during the exams. We need to solve this basic problem and give the students confidence to become problem-solvers in society with the knowledge that they have gained in college,” explains Prof. Kavi Arya.

The pilot phase saw 16 colleges in Mumbai participate in the programme. Teams of four teachers from each college underwent workshop training in the theory of micro-controllers and programming of robots. Besides, the e-Yantra Robotics Teacher Competition was organised to put their learning to test and give them an idea of how the subject could help them deal with real-life problems. The participants worked on themes such as Pot-hole filling robot, Cleaning robot, Pick and Place robot and Line Following robot.

In this initiative, the mentors share their know-how, teaching insights, project methodologies and help set up the lab.

In addition to this, colleges are given access to over 100 projects done by the students of IIT-Bombay, including the source code and documentation. For this, each college is expected to invest Rs. five lakh to cover the costs of setting up the lab.

Prof. Arya says that they aim at reaching out to more colleges nationally by zeroing in on nodal centres which are basically colleges that will be trained to act as mentors and reach out to 20 other colleges each. Thus, this year’s target is five nodal centres and 100 colleges.

If your college is interested in participating in eLSI as a nodal centre or otherwise, write in to: