When sky is not the limit

When sky is not  the limit

Two City-based students came out with flying colours recently at the ‘Airbus Fly Your Ideas 2015’ contest. Ajith Moses and Shashank Agrawal, who are currently pursuing Ph.D in Aerospace from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), emerged as the champions and their team consisted of Sathiskumar Anusuya Ponnusami, the team leader, Dhamotharan Verrasamy and Mohith Gupta — who are currently in USA and Europe.   


The contest is a biennial global competition, organised in partnership with
UNESCO, and challenges students to innovate for the future of aviation in subjects such as efficiency, passenger experience and energy.

The five, who called themselves ‘Multifun’s’, had a unique and sensitised approach and felt that sky is never the limit. Their idea was mainly about harnessing the energy that is stored in the vibrations of an aircraft’s wings or the flex.

Shashank explains, “We tried to design a concept where we could store the energy and sending it back to the aircraft. The idea was in the format of a design and a video and our next step is to implement it.” It consisted of piezoelectric fibres which gather electrical charges from minute movements during flight, storing the energy generated in battery panels integrated in the fuselage and using it to power auxiliary in-flight systems.

They first learnt about the contest thanks to their lab professor, who they give complete credit to for having supported them throughout their journey.

Ajith says, “It was very difficult to coordinate with our other team members as they are in different parts of the world. Our sleep and work timings would always clash so we could only work through emails and Skype. It was only during the final round that we actually met each for the first time but it wasn’t awkward as we had a connect because they are an alumni of IISc.”

The team battled their way out through two tough rounds. While the first one was open to all students in which they had to come up with an innovative idea to tackle the challenge of aviation, the second round was about developing their ideas further. In the second round, 100 teams from 13 countries competed with each other.

Recalling the experience, Shashank says that it was a roller-coaster ride. As he is parallelly working on his Ph.D project too, he says that the entire experience was like “marrying his projects”. “It was quite a challenge but we did expect to win as we had worked very hard,” he says.

However, all their efforts paid off as the team received the coveted trophy and prize money. While Shashank wants to go on a world tour with the prize money, Ajith wishes to bring in patent rights for his design.

Though this is a small step for the students in terms of design and distance, the duo feel that the City still has a long way to go in terms of education in aerospace. Shashank says, “There are opportunities in India but most of the content and knowledge that is drilled into students is only in terms of theory. There is hardly any practical implementation. There is a need for more focus on higher education. One needs to go just beyond the degree.”  

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