Connecting with society

Connecting with society

Chirag Lodaya, a first year student of engineering at KLE Technological University in Hubballi, is thrilled to share that his project has helped four houses in the nearby Tadas village get proper sunlight during day time.

His group has installed ‘bottle lamps’ in these four houses that had no access to sunlight earlier due to poor construction methods involved. It has a reason. During the National Highway expansion work, officials had to relocate people, who had lost their houses and property, to Tadas. It led to mass construction of houses without proper planning. As a result, most of the houses had to remain in darkness even during day time.

“We had selected four houses, that had kids studying in SSLC or PUC, to install these ‘bottle lamps’. This was a small gesture to help them study at least during morning hours,” he says. The technology used by them is simple: water mixed with bleaching powder or chlorine is added to a clean bottle that is colourless. It is then fixed to the roof. When sunlight falls on the ‘bottle lamp’, the chlorine solution in it glows and emits bright light.

“This handy technology was first used in Korea,” Chirag explains. His team is one of the 200 teams formed by the University to sow the seeds of social concern in the minds of nearly 1,000 freshers who joined the engineering course this year.

Under the Social Innovation course introduced by the University in 2009, each new student has to compulsorily participate in the credit-based course that intends to instill a sense of social belonging in them. They have to not only identify the problems being faced by the society but also find a solution. The programme is the brainchild of KLE University’s vice chancellor, Ashok Shettar. His aim was to make the students understand their social
responsibility and apply modern technology for the betterment of society.After forming teams comprising five to six students each, they are asked to visit various places within the city and nearby villages to observe and analyse social problems that are plaguing the overall growth of society. After discussion, each group has to come up with an issue of their choice and begin working towards finding a solution.

Addressing challenges
This year, the students are working on a number of issues such as removal of weeds at a lake, installation of convex lens at a blind curve and computer education to Kannada medium high schools. After undergoing the course, many of the students feel that their attitude and perspectives have changed. “This course has helped us understand that there are several issues that are pulling our country back. And we, as engineering students, have technology at our disposal to find a permanent and feasible solution for them,” says Shreya Tallawar, who is working on a prototype that helps mentally-challenged kids with colour identification and eye-hand coordination.

Saurav and Sahilkumar, of another group, are working to check school dropout rate in government schools. Their constant efforts have yielded positive results. They are helping 10th standard government school students get a better understanding of computer as a subject  and are providing them with notes to help them memorise maths formulae.

Permanent solutions
Over the years, the students of the University have gone on to find permanent solutions for the problems that they identified in their first year. “Most of the students continue with their Social Innovation project in the following years and try to provide engineering solution to the issues they identified in the first year,” said Sanjay V Kotabagi, head, department of humanities, who is part of the 16-faculty-member team that guides the students in  the project. For example, a group of final year electronics students came up with a sensor stick that guided the visually-challenged persons with road impediments such as potholes and waterlogged areas. “I can say that this course enables students to get connected with society and its needs. This in turn impels them to arrive at solutions for any issue. In other words, it is a two-way approach. While it helps the needy, it enhances students’ problem solving ability,” Sanjay reveals. Such projects encourage youth to engage with their immediate community constructively. For more details, log on to www.kletech.ac.in.

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