Research Education

Bridging the gap

Man creating statistics in modern office. He working on digital devices while sitting at table and turning back to camera

Man creating statistics in modern office. He working on digital devices while sitting at table and turning back to camera   | Photo Credit: YakobchukOlena

A college in Salem is trying to get more students interested in research and innovation

It is no secret that there is a research crisis in India. Very few students opt for higher studies or a career in research. In 2015, there were only 216 researchers per million population in India. Contrast this to China which had 1200 researchers per million population. In higher education, India’s research expenditure is only four per cent of GDP.

A Salem-based college is trying to change this. Students in this institute are encouraged to pour their energy in research and innovation. Take the case of 22 year old J. Nishanth, an alumnus of the B.E Electronics and Communication department, who passed out of the institute in 2017, and is pursuing a Masters in Research.

It was at this college that Nishanth developed a passion for research and innovation. “The college supported me with full free education, a special research lab in the college to do research,” he says. “Also, I had opportunities to interact with various research labs.”

Innovative

In his first year, Nishanth’s project — “Automatic Electric Shock Tripper” — was awarded National First in Accenture’s “Innovation Jockeys” — a challenge to find India’s most innovative minds across campuses. Out of 4,400 plus entries from 300 campuses, Nishanth’s project emerged on top and he won a pass to Accenture Tech Labs, Silicon Valley, California, the U.S.

Nishanth had been reading reports about people dying of electrical shocks due to leakages in electrical systems — more so during cyclones and heavy rains. Inevitably, transformers trip, involving huge repair costs and presenting danger. This spurred him to think about a solution. He came up with an idea of a rain alert to electricity boards through voice mail, as well as a mechanism for power to be switched off whenever output of transformers fails.

While the automatic shock tripper won Nishanth several accolades, as well as a chance to demonstrate it to the Tamil Nadu State Electricity Board, bringing his innovation to life out of the labs, his research continued with strong support from the college. His visit to Accenture Technology Labs also filled him with ideas and technical know-how.

Nishanth says, “I have kept myself updated with new technologies and continue to innovate with Sona’s support.” The young researcher has produced innovations like a solar DC power system, security alert system and more. Nishanth has filed nine patent applications and has developed 36 products, many of them in critical areas. For instance, he has developed an automatic accident announcement system which alerts hospitals in the vicinity of an accident.

The writer is the Vice Chairman, Sona College of Technology, and CEO, Vee Technologies.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 6:16:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/bridging-the-gap/article28805639.ece

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