The innovative ideas of budding engineers seem to be revolving around the idea of energy conservation, environment-friendly, and cost-effective ventures.

The various projects at the TechTop-2011 contest for engineering college students being held here are innovations for a sustainable future. Be it arecanut tree climbing and pruning robot, the pepper separator, or the autonomous underwater explorer, the highlight of these projects are that they use low-cost technology requiring local resources.

The solar-powered ‘helioped,' a locomotive unit for the differently-abled, and the air-powered bike, which runs on compressed air have been developed with a view to reducing energy consumption and easing human effort.

Many of the projects presented here are aimed at reducing environmental damage. Project like Haritha, an irrigation unit, aims at conservation of water for irrigation purposes. Since the unit can be solar powered, the makers claim that the need for energy conservation was also addressed.

The developers of electro soft, a software to schedule power supply for electronic devices, and velomobile, a human powered vehicle, are confident that these projects, when implemented, will have a high level of efficiency with low maintenance.

The sixth edition of the contest was inaugurated by former Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation G. Madhavan Nair at the Technopark here on Friday.

The contest, jointly organised by Degree Controls.Inc and Technopark, includes an exhibition of the successful models before a national expert committee.

This year, 216 teams from 14 States had participated in the preliminary round. Out of these, 58 teams were shortlisted for the final stage. Projects with developed prototypes selected for the final stage are exhibited at the Technopark Club, which is open for public.

The winners will receive a cash price of Rs.1 lakh.

Apart from this, all projects selected after the final screening will be eligible for support from Technopark's Technology Business Incubator (TBI), where they can convert them into commercial venture.

Mervin Alexander, CEO Technopark, said the innovative ideas which were original and aimed at sustainable future would top the list of possible winners for the contest. He said such projects would receive all the support for incubation at the Technopark.

The award ceremony will be held on Saturday at the Technopark.