Only in a student inventor’s world, maybe, can an automatic rasam-maker and an automatic money depositing machine stand next to each other. But for a group of students of Savitha Engineering College, who worked on these two projects, this does not represent an irony.

The students, graduating this year with a B.E., worked on the money depositing machine for their project and managed to scrape together enough to build a prototype that accepts notes in denominations of Rs. 50 to Rs. 500 for deposit, or prints out demand drafts without the need for a human operator. They also built a system that can cook a three-course meal for four with only the raw materials in just 45 minutes.

These students are part of a growing student inventor community in Tamil Nadu. Engineering colleges in the state are acting as incubators for novel ideas, and are conducting many paper and model presentation competitions. The increased enthusiasm has also reflected in more attention from industry.

The ongoing Auto Components and Machine Tools Exhibition (ACMEE 2008) features stalls from eight engineering colleges, displaying their prototype models.

One of the teams from Velammal Engineering College shows the cheap car for the physically challenged in a nearby stall. Developed in 2007, the car has already been featured in the media. Now it is getting some attention from the industry, as the developers explain its features to visitors from engineering companies.

Students from VelTech Engineering College show a more efficient transmission system that they have developed. They say that they built the prototype from scratch and have also applied for a patent. The stalls at ACMEE 2008 are clearly giving a boost to students who have the enthusiasm to innovate, and it has to be seen whether this will translate into tangible results in the form of marketable industrial products.

SHYAM RANGANATHAN