Students from IIT Kharagpur organise space technology fest to increase awareness and enthusiasm at the academic level. Sanchayan Bhattacharjee reports.
Tech fests are commonplace events in the annual calendar of almost every college. However, an annual festival on space technology is what sets IIT Kharagpur's National Students’ Space Challenge (NSSC) apart. Now in its fourth year, the festival will be held from October 31 – November 2 this year. “The first year was the most challenging as we did not have any experience, but once we secured the support of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the road ahead became easier. The association enabled us to assure participants that they would be certified on behalf of ISRO and not just some student body of IIT Kharagpur,” says Tanmaya Dash, governor, NSSC.
While the three day festival constitutes of a number of space related events, a few stand out. “Lift-Off, the water rocketry challenge is our signature event,” says Manu Lahariya. He explains, “The teams have to design a rocket which uses pressurized water as a fuel source. A water rocket is cheap to build and makes for a great viewing spectacle during take off.” Another interesting event is ‘Trochia’ which simulates satellite technology, requires participants to build an autonomous robot which can manoeuvre and change its orbit around an obstacle in minimum time. Conveyor — the manual robotics event, involves a rover which provides a live feed to participants. “They will have to control the rover and accomplish predefined tasks in a dark arena,” says event head, Hussain Bohra. Another rover event ‘Buoyant’ urges participants to build a rover that can traverse an underwater maze. According to Abhinav Shetty, event head, Buoyant, this event helps simulate outer space conditions like zero gravity and absence of an atmosphere. “The bots function underwater where we promote the use of propulsive technology over conventional propellers to resemble space like conditions,” he explains.
This year, a new event ‘Hoverpod’, has been introduced. Hoverpod would require students to design a hovercraft which can navigate through air and water. “The event is designed to give the participants a feel of Formula One racing along with the basics of aeronautical engineering,” says Dash. In addition to the various events, relevant workshops and guest lectures will also be conducted as part of the festival.
The idea of NSSC which played host to more than 1000 students across the country last year, arose from the lack of substantial results in previous endeavours. Earlier, several events directed towards encouraging the culture of space technology among Indian students were organised. “Due to the poor response we decided to have a fest dedicated to space technology,” explains Dash who expects the number of participants to cross 1500 this year.
Ultimately, NSSC aims to bridge the gap between the various opportunities of space technology perspective of engineering students in the country. “We want to portray the diverse reach of space sciences and give students a taste of competing at the national level,” signs off Dash.