Staff Reporter

About 2,500 students wait to register for events

Chennai: On Day One of Shastraa, the technical festival of IIT – Madras, volunteers at the registration desk were simply overwhelmed. About 2,500 students from colleges all over the country were waiting to register for events.

“The turnout was larger than we expected. Registrations went on for four hours,” said Vinay Shankar, co-curricular affairs secretary. Although registration for accommodation facilities closed much before the festival, outstation participants were quite willing to book into hotels to participate in one of the biggest inter-college events of the year.

Paaprikaa, the daily Shaastra newsletter, says an army of “centurions and legionaries” (core members, coordinators and volunteers) have been working on the project. In keeping with the Roman theme, the names of the core members (who already bear IITian nicknames) have been Latinised: events’ core members Subramanya becomes Potius, Abhay turns Abhyatius and Sayan Ganguly is called Proffix.

The 900-member ‘army’ regulates the ‘wars’ between competing teams from about 300 colleges.

The contest is intense in every event ranging from Junkyard Wars (engineering solutions made out of junk) and SHOCK (creating code and logic programmes tough to interpret).

‘Contraptions,’ an event that tests lateral thinking and common sense, had 38 teams competing to blow out 16 candles on a cake and cut a triangular slice, all without human intervention.

“Participants used fans to blow out candles and a lever mechanism that would drop two knives on the cake to carve out a piece,” said event co-ordinator Ritesh Kumar Sinha.

Even tamer events such as lectures and workshops were packed with participants. One of the most popular lectures came from Google’s computer scientist Ramanathan Guha, an IIT-M alumnus, who spoke on the future of the World Wide Web. ‘An inconvenient truth,’ a film on climate change, was screened at the festival.