IISc-based whizz team's idea isn't a flight of fancy

Plan to generate power from vibrations in aircraft wings wins contest

IISc-based whizz team's idea isn't a flight of fancy

A team comprising students and alumni of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), presently studying in different parts of the world, have won a prestigious biennial global competition ‘Fly Your Ideas (FYI)’ conducted by UNESCO and multinational company Airbus. The five-member-team bagged a prize money of 30,000 Euros as the winners.

Called the MultiFun team, all the members have their beginnings in the Nonlinear Multifunctional Composites - Analysis and Design (NMCAD) Laboratory of the Department of Aerospace Engineering, IISc.

Sathiskumar A Ponnusami, team leader, MultiFun - who is presently pursuing his doctoral studies in Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands - and teammate, Dhamotharan Veerasamy, currently a doctoral student at City University, London, UK, are both IISc Masters alumni.

Other teammates - Shashank Agrawal and Ajith Moses - are doctoral students at the NMCAD Lab. Mohit Gupta, the youngest of the lot, is a Masters student at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, USA and was an Indian Academy of Sciences internship fellow at the NMCAD lab.

The competition is aimed at identifying and encouraging the next generation innovators and uncover futuristic and unconventional, yet promising solutions for the evolution of flight, according to a press release by UNESCO and Airbus.

According to information given in the FYI website, team MultiFun won the competition for their idea “that entails aircraft wings dressed in a composite skin that harvests energy from natural vibrations or flex in the wings”. These vibrations can be harnessed through “piezoelectric fibres that gather electrical charges from even the smallest movements during flight”. This reduces the energy footprint of aircraft during flight and could even replace the entire power source for ground operations, according to the website.

Team MultiFun was adjudged the winner out of 518 teams from 104 countries that involved more than 15,000 students from 600 plus universities.
Asked about the birth of the idea, Sathiskumar said, “It all started in the NMCAD lab, headed by Dineshkumar Harursampath, Aerospace Engineering department, IISc, where all our team members are either currently studying or have graduated from. Though now spread across four different time zones, our long umbilical cords remain effective for idea generation”.

The jury members included Charles Champion, Airbus Executive Vice President Engineering, and Dr Osman Benchikh, Chief of Innovation and Capacity Building in Science and Engineering, UNESCO.

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