Fests at Brainware campus

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The week of 23 to 28 February 2015 was an exciting one for the students of the Brainware Group of Institutes. Not only was the annual fest Anandadhara back with its range of events and activities, like music, choreography, quiz and debate, but Technitiate also took place on the first two days, where students from different streams and years put up an impressive exhibition of technical projects. The fest was inaugurated by founder-chairman Phalguni Mookhopadhayay on 23 February.

 

 

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The future engineers were eager to show the chairman what they had created, starting with the first exhibit – an eco bicycle. An effort by two students of mechanical engineering, the eco bicycle is fitted with three lead batteries (under the seat to maintain balance) and can reach a speed of 35-40 kmph. If marketed, it will cost a humble Rs 10,000. Thanks to the students at the campus, the special cycle got many a test ride!

 

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Indoors, the exhibits included a password security door (a project intended to be uploaded on YouTube), a slider jack model for weightlifting, a power saw mechanism and a robot octopus that could propel itself in water. The last, like many other models, was made using discarded materials like pieces of plastic. The purpose of most projects was to improve on existing real-world systems by making them simpler and more cost-effective.

 

 

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One of the models, which looked like a steel skeleton with several joints and spidery legs, turned out to be a demonstration of Theo Jansen mechanism, which can help vehicles move on any solid surface with as much adaptability as human beings and animals. Interestingly, vehicles using this mechanism would have no wheels, but legs! A DJ house, which provided the background music for the room, showed how to change the light inside the model house according to the pace of the music.

 

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There were also a hydroelectric power plant model (complete with a roadside KFC), a signalling system for unmanned level crossings, an obstacle-sensing stick which would help in the mobility of visually impaired people, an automatic streetlight (to save tax-payers’ money by ensuring streetlights are switched off in time), an automatic speed control and accident prevention system, and an obstacle-avoiding robot car. In fact, although the ideas behind the projects were many, the popular favourite was clearly robots in various shapes and sizes.

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Take, for example, the all-terrain surveillance bot, built with two high-endurance motors, which sends the feed to a mobile phone, and cost Rs 3,500 to build. Or there was the manually controlled “pick-and-place” robotic vehicle inspired by (Hollywood robot) Wall-E, which can help in waste management. If you want a reference to Bollywood, there was the model of hydro-electricity generation from waterfall for a remote hilly area where solar energy cannot be used. The lighting up of the tiny bulbs may have reminded one of the moment in Shah Rukh Khan’s Swades when, thanks to the hero’s efforts, an electric bulb lights up in an old lady’s rural home.

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Not every project involved an elaborate set-up, though. One student demonstrated an android app called Let’s Walk, which she had designed. The app can measure the time and speed of walking as well as calories burnt, and can also play music during the walk.

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Some of the circuit diagrams and technical terms may have been difficult for a layman to follow, but given a chance to demonstrate, students proved that each idea was interesting and important. For instance, “hardware implementation of HVDC transmission” was really about lowering the country’s electricity bill. What was always easy to see, however, was how enthusiastic and proud the students were about their projects.

Alongside Technitiate, other cultural activities were also taking place on the Barasat campus as part of Anandadhara. On 24 February was held an extempore competition, judged by Dean NC Das and senior chemistry teacher J Hazra, where students spoke for three minutes on topics like ‘fashion is a statement of one’s personality’, ‘procrastination’ and ‘last benchers’ (a topic at which the speaker could not stop giggling). Finally, the third place was secured by Debopriyo Roy (for speaking on ‘passion and obsession’); the second place by Shahin Sadik (topic: ‘freedom brings responsibility’). The winner was declared to be Satanik Guha (topic: ‘communication is both art and science’), who could be seen at another time demonstrating the auto-closing of household pump to minimise water wastage.

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Another attraction was an exhibition-cum-competition of photography, art and craft, and t-shirt painting. On display were around 30 photos of the campus, including some nice close-ups of welding, lab instruments etc. Apart from paintings and drawings, there were craftwork, like embroidery and wall-hanging. Paintings on t-shirts ranged from a mother-child silhouette to musician Bob Marley. Exhibits were numbered instead of being labelled with the name of the student so that voting could be unbiased. Faculty members too, had contributed a few photographs, although those were not open to vote.
In other parts of the sprawling campus, football and cricket matches drew their share of spectators. Claps and cheers, excited appeals (“Howzzat?”) and eager commentary (“Good shot!”) added to the general atmosphere of fun and festivities.

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Some other exhibits at Technitiate

• Automated water level controller
• Cell phone detector
• Compressed-air vehicle
• Electronic letterbox
• Electronic weighing scale
• Microgrid system
• Rescue robot
• Wireless transmission using Tesla coil

 

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