By Akshyah Kumar
The IIT Madras Confluence, held at IC&SR auditorium, heralded the beginning of an intellectual warfare that envisioned ‘igniting the imagination’ of approximately 15,000 students who are expected to participate in Shaastra 2013.
Prof. Mahesh Panchagnulla in his keynote address stressed that this 14th edition of Shaastra, like its predecessors, marked by intense student energy, prior to and during the events, and by the diversity of its participant body should be enjoyed and utilized to its hilt.
Sohan Jawale, the Co-curricular Secretary, postulated the various highlights of the festival from its first ever International Participation to the student centered research magazine that is to be launched soon and called for the renewal of the ‘spirit of engineering and the power of innovation’. He then played the Shaastra video clip which encapsulated the values of unlearning; rethinking, rediscovering and re-engineering that embody Shaastra.
The Dean of Students, Prof. L.S.Ganesh, after the lighting of the lamp, applauded the video and its inspiring quotes but asked for the word “reflect” to be added to it. “The very fact that India is languishing at the bottom of the pool of international competitiveness should challenge us to better ourselves,” he said. After enunciating the importance of quality and the need to enter “the non-trivial space”, he asked the organizers to ensure that Biotechnology and chemistry were also given equal footing with Mechanical and Electrical Sciences.
The Shaastra Confluence followed immediately with lectures given by four eminent engineers and scholars. Dr. Jawahar Surisetti, the advisor to the Cabinet Ministry of Education, and the only non-engineer on the dais, using numerous examples, exercises and models to illustrate how to fire up one’s imagination and overcome conditioned thinking.
The next speaker, Dr. Ravishanker Arunachalam, an alumnus of IITM and a patron of AID INDIA, focused on using the student body’s potential to come up with solutions that will help to, if not eradicate, at least mitigate the problems inherent in rural education in India.
Dr. Praveen Vettiyattil, a talented innovator, besides stating the importance of engaging in creative activities also demonstrated a few of his inventions like an energy saving street lamp with maximum exposure to the roads and peddle powered pump and water lifting machine. It was his passionate belief that inside every person is a ‘violent inventor’.
The final speaker of the day, Dr. Mahesh Moorthy, elaborated on the industrial perspective of innovations. “This unconstrained way of thinking, associating, questioning and experimenting are or should be exponentially integrated in an innovator’s DNA,” he explained. He concluded by stating that though it’s essential to incentivise others, rewards and ambitions should not motivate innovation.
Finally, there was a presentation by a member of the Computer Vision Group of IIT Madras, in collaboration with NGO Pravinya, on devising a computer format for evaluating OMR sheets. They will deliver the first working version of this software in Shaastra.
The end of this confluence mark the beginning of an intellectual journey, by the students if IITM and the numerous other participants, that will cover 3 days and 3 nights of unraveling, re-framing and revolutionizing the realm of engineering and innovations.