This is the month of tech fests at engineering colleges — a time for inter-collegiate contests, exotic workshops and corporate sponsorships.
Even as students run about, doing everything possible to make sure the fest is a success, the focus is on footfalls and more importantly, sponsorships, rather then promotion of technologically-advanced projects.
Kurukshetra 2013, the technical fest of College of Engineering, Guindy, held last week, had a budget of over Rs. 40 lakh this year. This, students said, was less than last year’s.
“Most sponsors cited recession and did not give us more than Rs. 2 lakh each,” said a student organiser.
To make up for the reduced budget, the organisers charged participants for workshops. The entry fee for an energy scavenging workshop was Rs. 10,000 per student.
While professors expressed resentment at the costly affair, students felt it helped maintain the reputation of the fest.
“Organising the workshop, among others, was necessary to get a certification from the U.N. We had more participants than we could accommodate, so there is no reason to complain,” said a student organiser.
According to a former professor at IIT-Madras, technical fests came about in the late 90s and were aimed at encouraging students to take up extra-curricular activities.
“We wanted them to compete in technical events. But over the years, the fests have lost focus. Students do not even participate in the events held at their colleges. For them, it is all about managing the crowd and conducting events,” he said.
Shaastra, IIT-Madras’s tech fest that had an outlay of at least Rs. 80 lakh this year, has grown phenomenally, the professor said.
This year, the fest featured Hungarian dance group ‘Freelusion’ which uses 3D projection mapping in their performance.
“It is unavoidable. When tech fests at IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kharagpur are scaled up, we feel the need to do the same — get more sponsors and speakers,” said a student organiser of Shaastra 2013.
From companies in the hospitality business to garment factories, energy companies and IT bigwigs, there are many willing to sponsor tech fests in colleges.
“Sponsors insist on conducting events. There have been a few instances when they have used students’ solutions for commercial purposes,” the professor said.
While professors express resentment at the costly affair, students feel it helps maintain the fest’s reputation