‘Techfest’ offers students a chance to innovate

A technology festival for engineering students from across the country, which was held at the BMS Institute of Technology and Management (BMSIT&M) on Sunday, is part of a broader effort to create ‘inventive’ students, organisers said.

Criticising the inability of Indian engineering students to secure patents, an IIT Bombay emeritus professor blamed the country’s shortfall of research and development on the educational system’s preoccupation with exams.

“We have around 1,250 million people below the age of 25, and one million engineers coming out of universities every year. But still we are poor in intellectual-property filings,” said Professor C Amarnath, of IIT Bombay’s department of mechanical engineering.

“The educational system has become all about exams, pass and fail. Instead, students should be required to fulfill a complex project assignment as their end-of-term assignment. This will make them use their minds,” he added.

Interestingly, the comments were made at Techfest, an IIT Bombay-planned science and technology festival held at BMSIT&M and backed by Unicef, Unesco and ‘Make in India’, which promotes out-of-the-box thinking in several categories — robotics, coding and decoding.

Professor Amarnath raised the subject of heightened competitiveness, which he said was killing the idea “of the team as an asset”. It was a sentiment that appealed to the principal of BMSIT, Dr Mohan Babu G N, who told DH that the university has been increasingly moving towards project-based learning. 

“Teams are multidisciplinary and every six months, projects are presented for peer review. This will cut down on rote learning,” Babu said.

A source said that BMSIT is striving to achieve the autonomous status from next year in order to implement a curriculum, which will move education further away from
rote learning.

Among the challenges at Techfest was ‘Cosmo Clench’, which involved student designing wheeled rovers to pick and drop polystyrene cubes across an obstacle course.

A team from the Bannari Amman Institute of Technology was the first to successfully navigate the course. “The most important lesson that we learned from the project was that team building and cooperation are vital for success,” said rover controller, 18-year-old Saran.

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