The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) have been known for their socially relevant technological innovations and the students of IIT Delhi have added more such projects to this list. So much so that the institute’s research funding reached around Rs. 106 crore this year, says Professor Suneet Tuli, dean of research and development at IIT Delhi.
Take, for instance, a Braille tutor developed by the students of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and mathematics. Showcased at the 10th open house at IIT Delhi last week, the project was designed as a low-cost device which can be used for language tutoring in the Braille script for the visually challenged. “The user interacts with the device through on-device buttons and Braille keyboards attached as peripherals, along with voice assistance for navigating through the menu and device software. Braille tutoring is achieved through exercises and games on the device, with support for multi-player games and multiple languages, which will be added later,” says Samarth Bahuguna, a student of electrical engineering who has worked on this project.
“While it is at present limited to being a Braille tutoring device, it has the potential to be used as a note-taking device, or for storing contacts and other important information,” he adds.
Students of civil engineering have also come up with some remarkable ideas aimed at creating sustainable tall buildings which meet the housing or commercial needs of the present generation without compromising on the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Says Ashish Jayaswal, a student of civil engineering, “The development of such a building design is important keeping in mind the pressure on non-renewable sources of energy and other natural resources (like water, fuel, etc.) and their ever-growing rate of depletion. Our proposed green building will comprise all the feasible methods by which energy consumption can be reduced and natural resource utilisation be optimised.”
Some of the sources of the building’s sustainability are energy saving integrated photovoltaics and daylight responsive controls, double low e-glass for window panes and walls, geothermal heat sinks, ventilated facades, T5 energy efficient light tubes, LED lights, resource optimisation, rainwater harvesting, waterless urinals, harnessing wind power using large scale wind turbines, sensor activated faucets, root zone technology for waste water treatment, and using recycled paper for toilets.
Another group of mechanical engineering students has created a product that includes a computing or electronic device for programming a medication regimen. “This includes a prescription, a docking station, a personal medicine container for holding a daily or weekly supply of the medication. The personal medicine container is carried by a user and includes an alarm for reminding the user to take or administer the medicine in accordance with the regimen. The device automatically opens the docking stations schedule for medication,” says Akash Verma, who has worked on this project.
Faculty members who have mentored these projects feel that the engineering curriculum should focus more on innovation. “As the country faces a clear decline in manufacturing along with the spectre of increasing unemployment, the challenge before the IITs is to produce successful role models of techno-entrepreneurs. The additional challenge of interdisciplinarity in curriculum, especially for student projects, also needs to be addressed,” says M Balakrishnan, professor, department of computer science and engineering at IIT Delhi.
What’s ­cooking at IIT Delhi
TrueHb Hemometer: Developed by Ambar Srivastava, an alumnus of IIT Delhi, this device can check for haemoglobin and identifying cases of anaemia easily
Lipoprotien analysis: A device which can check your cholesterol levels at a low cost has been developed by the department of chemical engineering. Tests will become cheap as this proposed method can analyse for whole lipoprotein profile (VLDL, IDL, HDL, LDL and its subfractions) for just Rs. 120
Waterless urinal: This low cost waterless urinal is capable of saving over 100 thousand litres of water per urinal per day. It recovers nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus salts from urine, and is a low-cost technology to recover fertilisers from human urine