They called it ‘The beauty and the geek mystery' and gave their explanation for why pretty women fell for intelligent men, using neural networks and the law of averages.

Some even tried to explain the cataclysm of the black cat using diffusion theories at ‘Ignobel'- a fun event at 'Shaastra-2010' that showcased uncanny applications and made you think.

When an assortment of logic, science and innovation coupled with technical brilliance was served on the rocks of humour and entertainment, the audience couldn't resist asking for more. As the curtains came down, the last day of the tech fest at the Indian Institute of Technology –Madras (IIT-M) saw entrepreneurship, academics, and creativity take a longer walk this year.

“Focus has shifted”

“Initially, ‘Shaastra' was about events and competitions, but over the years, its focus has shifted to research and awareness on technology that can be put to use," says Vinay Sridhar, a third-year engineering student of IIT-M.

While fog screens, wireless gadgets and intriguing models replicating the human body held the audience captive, around 30 senior alumni of IIT-M walked around the campus, talking to students and suggesting more workable solutions for projects.

Teams of participants pitched their radio-controlled ‘battle tanks' in a simulated arena in ‘Fire and Ice' even as electronics enthusiasts in the campus cheered aloud in support of their favourite designs.

From screening of educational movies, and applying mathematics to real-life situations, to insightful lectures on astronomy and smart materials, and workshops on magical speed cubing, the day was an interesting mix of lectures and demonstrations.

A puzzle enthusiast, Sneha Rudra, said she feels that events such as ‘Pentathlon' that bring different disciplines of engineering together exposed the students to different ideas and people. K. Manasa, a participant from Visakhapatnam, feels the thrill and excitement associated with ‘Robotics' is infectious. “Every time my robo fell, my heart skipped a beat, it's an experience of a lifetime,” she says.

Ask students who have witnessed many editions of ‘Shaastra' how the fest has evolved all these years and nostalgia and want for more overpowers them.

“We do not have exhibits that are made only to be presented, most of them are in ongoing stages of research which shows they are being designed, studied and evaluated, to be put to the best use,” says Subash, an engineering student of IIT-M.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012