Budding engineers train school students at ‘Kurukshetra'

It is quite unusual to see students clad in uniforms walking around college campuses, and when some of them did so on Saturday, at College of Engineering Guindy, ‘one-and-half years more to get to a place like this' was what most of them kept saying.

“This campus is so huge, and every one is roaming around so freely. We loved the way these people taught us to make aircraft,” said Evelyn, a class XI student of Church Park.” “Learning is always fun,” chipped in her friend Monisha, “especially when there are no examinations.” But all that aside, it was the opportunity to learn and make one's own Ornithopter, (an aircraft that flies by flapping its wings) and witness the huge working models made by engineering students that fascinated them the most.

The CEG campus on Saturday, the last day of ‘Kurukshetra 2012', was filled with lively voices of children and families trying to make sense of science and technology. “We thought they were here to pick up the basics but it turns out they already know so much,” said Omprakash, a student of CEG, even as he tried to field queries on thrust, gliders and the difference between a bird's wings and an aircraft's propeller. The chaos of the past two days was missing though. “For many students, a tech fest is often an excuse to get away from colleges as they put you on ‘on duty.' There are not such incentives on weekends,” said Saravanan, a participant.

But many would disagree and cite in their defence the sheer scope of the projects on display. Be it the software that helps track the closest potential blood donor in case of emergency or an unmanned shooter that attempts to fight terrorists thus doing away with the need for soldiers, there is often the invisible hand of a ‘senior' too. “We want to create useful projects and so it is perfectly fine if we upgrade existing projects,” said Goutham Senthuvel, a third year mechanical student of CEG. Last year, his seniors had come up with an insecticide sprayer that ran on electric power. “We modified it to run on solar energy and also reduced its weight,” he added.

Elsewhere, in different workshops at ‘Kurukshetra', students were also taught about new technology and the business strategies used by firms, including Google and Facebook. “We keep wondering how one manages to make sense of the volumes of data available from the innumerable CCTVs everywhere. There are many mapping techniques used there,” explained Fermi Niveditha, an IT student who coordinated IBM's workshop on ‘Big Data analysis.'

The highlight of the many project and display events was the fact that the all members of a team were not necessarily from the same college.

“Often, you bond better with your friends from school or even those in your locality. So, it is just the team that counts, not the college,” said Rajesh V, a coordinator at CEG. What also stands out more than anything is the confidence a complete circuit or a moving robot gives these students. “When I joined the college, I could not even speak a line of English properly. It is only after I made this successful robot that people recognised my technical skills,” said S. Jeeva, a third year mechanical engineering student.” The fest is estimated to have attracted over 6,000 participants, with online events, over 30,000 participants.

The Hindu was the media partner for the event.

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