Clearing the air and discovering substitutes for river sand

  • Ayesha Banerjee, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 12, 2014 12:01 IST

When Solapur in Maharashtra was identified as the sixth largest ­polluted town in India, the powers put a plan in place to rectify the problem. This was when students from the Walchand Institute of Technology (WIT) were roped in to work on the National Air Quality Monitoring Project (NAMP). Carried out with the Central and Maharashtra Pollution Control Boards, the objective of the project was to monitor the ­gaseous air pollutants (NOx and SO2) and suspended particulate matter (SPM). Appropriate majors were later ­adopted to control the pollution.

Working out many uses of waste such as fly ash from thermal power plants in civil engineering projects, the students recently participated in projects with Gubbi Enterprises, manufacturer of high-performance construction equipment in Mumbai. They used the waste material to make bricks and improve properties of expansive soils. With Durocrete Pvt Ltd, a leading manufacturer of construction material, fly ash was used in fibre-reinforced concrete.

“This has helped the industry identify potential areas where fly ash can be utilised. Subsequently, it helps to reduce pollution by consuming fly ash,” says Dr Shashikant Halkude, principal.

A company in Nagpur sponsored steel fibre to help students test and strengthen flooring for sugar ­factories. The youngsters were delighted to work with advanced material such as steel fibre in ­concrete technology and the industry benefited from their research.

In another project that will ­definitely interest the parties fighting the sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh, the civil engineering department tackled the problem of scarcity of river sand in Maharashtra by working out a mix for construction of buildings with crushed fine aggregates (stone dust). Venkateshwara, a Solapur-based developer, had approached WIT for the sand mix. Trials were conducted for various mixes and testing was carried out in laboratory before the proper mix was used.

Halkude is especially pleased that the students have had hands-on ­experience in dealing with techniques of lean manufacturing. “A project was carried out at Laxmi Oil Pumps and Systems in Solapur. The objective was to improve productivity by using lean manufacturing techniques. The outcome was an improvement in the company’s productivity and profits,” he adds.

For final year engineering ­students Nikhil Gangai and Shreyas Khot, working on the project meant ­acquiring hands-on experience while implementing theoretical concepts as well as getting exposed to the ­industrial environment. “Thanks to WIT and Laxmi Oil Pumps and Systems, we feel we are industry-ready engineers,” they say.

There are a number of interesting projects that WIT has been associated with when it comes to all-terrain vehicles. For Formula SAE, a student design competition organised by SAE International (SAE being previously known as the Society of Automotive Engineers), a bell cranks ­suspension and a paddle shift gear box were designed.

A solar powered automatic ­wheelchair was sponsored by Universal Electronics, Solapur, which was shortlisted by the International Society for Scientific Research and Development (ISSRD) at the Engineering Students Innovation Challenge 2014. Fans of go-karting would also be interested to know that a constant mesh chain drive has been developed for an electric go-kart at WIT.

“Collaborative projects,” says Halkude, “help reduce the gap between industry expectations and academic offerings by direct involvement of industry to attain a symbiosis. Faculty stand to gain by way of exposure to latest industry practices, which enhances the teaching-learning process. Most importantly, industry ready/employable graduates having required skill sets are created.”

WIT has not lagged behind in providing services to industries, state and government departments. When the Public Works Department of Nanded, Maharashtra, was in a dilemma over the construction of state highways, it approached WIT for help. The ­highway was cutting through a valley which was very steep and had clayey and expansive saturated soil which would not be able to take the load of the embankment of almost 10 metres high. The road had to cut through the valley as bypassing it would increase the length of the highway by almost 15 km. A solution for the embankment was created, which substantially reduced the length of the highway and was a very cost-effective solution.

The institute trained personnel and established a facility for training and lab development for geotechnical investigations for National Highway lanes from Amritsar to the Wagah Border. A ‘tricky’ concrete mix had to be developed for the Maharashtra irrigation department to help build a dam. Services were also provided by WIT for validation of satellite imagery and geographic ­information systems developed for Solapur as part of a project by the Maharashtra state government to develop small and medium towns under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns. Peer consultancy services were provided for a pilot project on the Pune- Mumbai Expressway.

WIT has 37 industry members on its board of governors, 27 are in the advisory council, seven in governing body and five in statutory university bodies. These advisory board members, says Halkude, have guided the students to prepare for competitive examinations and interviews. “The topper of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission-Engineering Services Exam - Civil is from our institute and more than 50 students have been selected through the exam. The course curriculum, student internship sand projects have an industry focus and students benefit directly by working on their projects on real life engineering challenges. The structure and syllabus are continuously revised and updated with advice and inputs of industry experts,” he adds.

Industry guidance apart, the faculty, too, is chosen carefully to help both students and industry representatives. It’s exposed to state-of-the art technology and encouraged to accept and practice it. Then there are workshops, seminars and hands-on sessions conducted; projects developed, and consultancy work done. Under the National Mission on Education through ICT (an MHRD project which gives a chance to teachers and experts to pool their collective wisdom for the benefit of every Indian learner and reduce the digital divide) in-house faculty was trained by expert faculty from IIT Bombay and IIT Kharagpur. The faculty also has to organise summer and winter schools for subject-specific training and work out effective teaching-learning strategies for quality education.

The feedback that he gets from the industry, says Halkude, is that ­interactions with institutes help them get acquainted with new technologies. Most of the time they get solutions to their problems. The assistance for transfer of technology helps ­industries and they gain knowledge of futuristic trends and projected industry requirements.

“Modules required by industry are designed and developed by the ­students and for that enhanced employability skills required. There are more industry ready graduates available to industry,” says Halkude.

Principal’s cut, Dr Shashikant Halkude

Walchand Institute of Technology and industry have both benefited from our linkages. We have ensured there is regular upgradation of curriculum content as per industry standards.Our students have acquired enhanced employability skills for placements and more students are being placed. Many more industries are clamouring to sponsor projects. New courses are being introduced as per industry requirement. We are getting increased support from external stakeholders in assessment of programme objectives. Slowly but surely we feel the gap between the industry and academia is being bridged.

We have managed to initiate an interest in students in entrepreneurship activities and today are turning innovative, commercially viable projects into products. We are also filing for pat-ents

What the faculty has to say

It’s a challenge to understand their specific requirements and ­orientation while providing training to an industry person. It is of a ­paramount importance to make training sessions interactive and participative while teaching them theoretical concepts. Case studies/examples from their domain play an important role in their learning. Proper blend of theory and practice makes it effective

Prof SS Patil head, civil engg dept.Walchand Institute of Technology

Hear it from the students

We the students, while working on collaborative projects on Lean Manufacturing with industry have acquired hands-on experience along with implementation of theoretical concepts while getting exposed to industrial environment, which has given us industry-ready engineers.
Thanks to our institute and Laxmi Oil Pumps and Systems Pvt Ltd., Solapur for the same

Nikhil Gangai and Shreyas Khot final year engineering students, WIT, Solapur

Industry inputs

A collaborative project entitled ‘Improving Productivity Using Lean Manufacturing Technique’ was completed in ­collaboration with Walchand Institute of Technology, Solapur. The objective of the project was to improve the flow of the assembly and testing of ­lubricating oil pumps by identifying and eliminating the wastes in the process. VSM was employed for ­successful automation of test rig. This has resulted in 8% savings of its manufacturing cost. The project is recipient of the third prize of IMTMA-Siemens National Productivity Championship Award 2013. Total ­participants for the awards were 572 companies from the entire nation

SP Patil, CII member, Maharashtra State Council MSME & Skill Developments Panel) MD, Laxmi Oil Pumps & Systems Pvt Ltd, Solapur

It was a pleasure to avail the ­opportunity to collaborate with Walchand Institute of Technology, Solapur, for finding a solution on the issue of ‘scarcity of natural sand for RCC works’ at our project site at Solapur. Our engineer Ajay Patil had several interactions with WIT’s expert faculty, Prof Gosavi SB and Prof SS Patil, head, civil engineering department for preparing several ­trials concrete mixes. After casting cubes out of these mixes the cubes were tested. We have got the green solution for our project and results are encouraging. We are thankful for the participation of WIT students Pratik Kalantri, Saiprasad Badgu, Aditya Jaju and Anuj Pawar for this collaborative project. I really ­appreciate the results of this ­collaborative project and will share the findings with other field ­engineers

NTChavan, Venkatesh Developers, Solapur

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