“Of what use is technology if it cannot help the poor farmer,” asked Dinesh Kumar, a manufacturing engineering student of the College of Engineering Guindy, as he moved his newly designed ‘Seed Sowing Machine' in a field. The machine with motors and a gear box attached to a frame of steel, drops seeds on the ground through carefully designed blind holes, at equal distances.

“With failing monsoons and increasing costs of ox and tractors, this machine will be a boon for farmers who own two-three acres of land,” said Dinesh, who hails from a farmer's family of Kalayanapuram village, Tiruvannamalai. His classmate Rajeshree. R and a few friends helped him in the project.

The machine is one of the projects on display at Kurukshetra, a techno-management fest at Anna University on Saturday. One of the objectives of the fest is to use the spirit of engineering and innovation to find practical solutions to socio-economic problems.

As budding engineers gazed at the demonstration of the machine and discussed its application, Vinotha Vasanthkumar, a third year agricultural and irrigation student from CEG remarked “It could be better if the machine worked on fuels, not every farmer can afford electricity.”

Participating robots at 'Designer's Quest', a robotics event, performed various tasks simulating movements of different animals. A slimy serpent with sensors attached glided through blocks and ridges, while an octopus-like structure stretched its legs of steel into a pile of clothes and clutched a hidden box. “More legs, more stability,” said Sneha Priya, a student of CEG, operating her hexabot (six legged robot), while Balajee V. from Jaya Engineering College controlled his tortoise to navigate its movements as per the signals captured by the ultrasonic sensors.

A humanoid robot developed by students of AVCR College of Engineering, Hyderabad, was the highlight of the event. Batteries, transistors, thermistors, copper coils and solar panels make up the solid body that can detect bombs, says Prabodh P, the student-designer.

Another major draw was an unmanned all-terrain surveillance vehicle. An inter-disciplinary project with engineering students from all years contributing, the vehicle with steering, motors, shafts, wheels, electronic circuits , cameras and GPS transceiver, has immense scope to be improved upon, say the designers.

“We could have used lighter material because the high carbon we used to render stability feels heavy,” says Rajaram M, a mechanical engineering student from CEG. With jokes, cartoons, anecdotes and jingles, understanding physics was made entertaining at ‘Fun with Physics.' Lectures on preparing for interviews and management quizzes were also part of the last day of the fest. The Hindu was the media partner for Kurukshetra 2011.

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Vasudha VenugopalJune 28, 2012