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IIT's Techfest at its best

IIT's Techfest is a great platform for students to display their cutting edge technology, listen to inspirational speeches and attend workshops to sharpen their skills, says Patricia Mascarenhas.

The annual science and technology festival organised by the student community of IIT Bombay recently concluded. With the moto of promoting technology, scientific thinking and innovation and with fierce competition amongst students from across the world, Techfest today has become a wholesome stage that students can look up to.

One of the highlights of the fest was its international exhibitions arena. Evidently dominated by robots, the robotic section had covered several aspects – humanoid, educational and industrial. The robotic platform showcased bots expressing emotions, playing intelligent games and serving as a model for filming, art, among others.

Students from ETH Zurich, Switzerland displayed an autonomous robot called 'Beach Bot' that can make large scale sand art using a rake mounted on its rear end and a cuttlefish inspired marine robot called 'Sepios' which is the only four finned cuttlefish robot in the world. “With its omni directionality and high maneuverability qualities combined with its fish like appearance and low disturbance, it is possible to pass through sea grass underwater without scaring or attracting the fish which makes it an idea device for marine life filming,” said Martin Moller, student, ETH Zurich.

Another interesting project was the a life size humanoid robot 'InMoov'. “It is a 3D printed robot, you can download the parts on the internet (open source project) and then you can assemble them and create your own version of InMoov. You have free software (my robot lab) which you can use to control and programme the robot, so you can make him talk, he has cameras in his eyes so he can see you, fingers with censors so he can pick objects and copy your gestures,” informed Gael Langevin, creator, InMoov robot.

With the motive of displaying advance technology and attracting students from engineering background to pursue their career in Indian army and Navy. This edition of Techfest exhibited BMP-2 tanks which is a second-generation, amphibious infantry fighting vehicle introduced in the 1980s in the Soviet Union, following on from the BMP-1 of the 1960s, artillery gun and scaled down models of ships and submarines. “To attract the youth to join the Navy we have always been involved in these kind of exhibitions, through the audio and video clips we give them an idea of all the things they will be exposed to in the Navy,” said a senior officer, Indian Navy.

Speaking about their first experience at the Techfest, he said, “I was surprised to receive such great a response and enthusiasm from the people, they actually take time to read the procedures displayed to join the Navy. It has been so great that IIT has requested us to conduct another exhibition 'Aerodynamics' in March,” he added.

Other thrilling and exciting events at the fest included the lectures by Nobel Laureates of Chemistry, Ada Yonath and Kurt Wuthrich, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, former president; street arts by Zlwin Chew, Kelvin Kalvus and Edgar Groll, competitions like Robowars, International Challenge and ROAR which is a social initiative for women empowerment.