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Updated: June 6, 2013 14:30 IST

Showing taste for innovative use of waste

Vasudha Venugopal
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For 34-year old Kumaresan, an auto driver at IIT – Madras, a fascination with engineering and robotics has only been reinforced over the years as he sees young minds at work. It does not stop with naming his newborn son ‘Enthiran' for he wants him to study here too.

Equally fascinating is the story of Venkatesh, a much sought- after man today on the campus. A mechanic, Venkatesh dismantles old, discarded machines and takes off the rust out of them, all to help students to use them as scrap and come out with working models.

And it is a busy week for both of them as activities peaked on the second day of ‘Shaastra 2011,' the technical fest of IIT- Madras.

Groups of students working on numerous mechanical projects keep seeking Venkatesh's help, while Kumaresan is constantly being approached by numerous visitors, mainly parents and students from other colleges, to be dropped at places inside the campus. “The number will only double during the weekend,” says Kumaresan.

As Venkatesh bends over an old, rundown two-wheeler, removing its sparks and making wires of them, students rapidly work out the pulley and chain mechanism on the discarded metal junk to create a crane. “Last year, we were asked to make a vehicle that can cross a river and we made one with a droppable bridge. We won the competition then and hope to do so now as well,” says Vimal Gopal, a participant from Cusat Engineering College, Kochi at ‘Junkyard Wars,' that tests a student's ability to make the best out of waste.

A little farther away, ropes, strings, balloons and shafts of woods carry little men at ‘Innovationeer'. “We are trying to use force, mass and propulsion better to transport injured soldiers,” says Poojitha Reddy. “It is like opening up a printer, understanding how it functions to create similar devices,” she says, explaining ‘reverse engineering,' the idea behind the event.

A variety of events involving robotics, gaming, aero shows, programming competitions, discussions and paper presentations, tech quizzes filled up the day even as students waited for the night for the long-awaited spectacle of a 100 robots walking along a path. “Each robot had to be fabricated. Over 80 students across disciplines have been working together over months to attempt something never done before,” said Karthik Rajkumar, a student. The Hindu is the presentation partner for the event.

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