“A Sloka in the 10th book of Rig Veda appears to be written for praising Lord Indra. The technical translation of that Sloka gives the value of pi up to 28 digits accurately.”
Science and Technology has always been a significant part of the Indian culture. The Indian Renaissance, which coincided with our independence struggle, witnessed great strides made by Indian scientists at the dawn of 1900s . The foundations and Institutional setups were laid down right after the country’s independence in 1947. Since then, the Government of India has spared no effort to establish a modern infrastructure in the country.
Even after having a rich history and a supposedly strong foundation, India has proven itself to be lethargic when it comes to Scientific and Technological Research, which is least expected from a developing nation like ours. Most people blame the poor research funding, low scientific productivity and lack of ambition among researchers. Some politicians even blame the caste system of India for this backwardness in Research.
Recently, the government has made some reforms and taken some initiatives to promote research among the youth of our nation.
“The prime minister has approved a vastly enhanced capital outlay for research in science and technology. The expenditure in the sector will be almost tripled from 33,000 crore in the Eleventh Five Year Plan to around 90,000 crore in the Twelfth Five Year Plan,” – quoted by Minister of State for Science and Technology, Ashwani Kumar on the occasion of National Science Day.
Supposedly, India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world. What truly degenerates our spirit to innovate is unknown, but a revolution is the need of the hour. Undoubtedly, our potential is high and it’s time we start living up to that.
Research In IITs-
In the past decade or so, a deep transformation has taken root in the IITs – research is becoming increasingly popular as a greater number of graduates crave a more ‘satisfying’ career. Whether we like it or not, all of us have had to get our hands dirty with research through our B. Tech/M. Tech/M. Sc Projects. To map out the undergraduate research scenario, we conducted a short survey to find out what the students and their project guides have been upto in the last 2 years. Here are a few notable project summaries from the responses :
Development of Stable Future Power System with integration of Microgrids and Distributed Generation – This is a project in the Department of Electrical Engineering that aims to prevent large scale blackouts similar to the one in Northern and Eastern India in July 2012. In this work, protection of Microgrid from faults and instabilities has been investigated. Conventional power system failure can occur due to various reasons like bidirectional power flow, limited fault currents etc. Accordingly, a new protection strategy for the Microgrid was proposed and results were verified with the help of solutions. (Raj Sahu, 09EE3516)
Design of a Living space based on the Kgp lifestyle – A project of the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning, which aims to develop a living space based on Kgp’s climate, people, history and spirit. The project is an attempt to tailor space in this insane setting for KGPians, their unique lifestyles and for ‘peace’. Definitely, we can do with some change in our mundane surroundings. (Kaustubh Khare, 08AR1025)
A project of the Department of Aerospace was based on research on the Performance of Thrust Vectoring Capabilities in modern aircrafts. Thrust vectoring is the ability of an aircraft to manipulate the direction of the thrust from its engine in order to control the attitude or angular velocity. The research concentrated on making it easier for the wings to take-off and increase the overall aerodynamic efficiency, saving fuel costs by 15% in the process. (Vishal Gupta, 09AE1014)
SCRAMJET Research : Another aerospace project which focused on the simulation and study of the flow physics and combustion chemistry of a transverse jet injected in a supersonic crossflow. This is the basic principle behind a scramjet or supersonic combustion ramjet. (U Umesh, 09AE3001)
Apart from research at the academic level, several student groups within campus are working on projects motivated either by research or international competitions. These include KRSSG (Kharagpur RoboSoccer Students Group), AGV( Autonomous Ground Vehicle), Team KART and Quadrotor.
KRSSG comprises a bunch of robotics enthusiasts working together to build autonomous soccer-playing robots under the collective guidance of Prof. J. Mukhopadhyay and Prof. S. Sarkar from the department of Computer Science and Engineering, Prof. A. K. Deb of Electrical Engineering and Prof. D. K. Pratihar of Mechanical Engineering .The team marked its inception in August 2009 with participation in RoboCup @ India Challenge which was held at IIT Kharagpur itself. The team participated in FIRA (Federation of International Robot-soccer Association) 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. They succeeded in defeating a team from Indonesia by 11-0 during a match in MiroSot and were among the very few teams that had built their own robots from scratch.
The Quadrotor Project, a student project under the Technology Robotix Society, aims to design a Quadrotor which can hover in the air and balance itself, and use computer vision to navigate in the environment. The current long-term aim is to participate in the International Aerial Robotics Competition – Angel Strike, 2014, the longest running collegiate aerial robotics challenge in the world. Though the project is still in its early stages, the enthusiastic team is making steady progress with the most recent development being the successful completion of a self balancing two wheeled robot.
The Kharagpur Automotive Racing Team, more popularly known as Team KART, is the largest student research group at IIT Kharagpur. The team primarily concerns itself with developing Formula race cars and has designed & manufactured 3 cars since its inception in 2008. The group is officially sponsored by SRIC, IIT Kharagpur and is guided by Prof. Amiya R Mohanty, Prof.C.S.Kumar, Prof. Kingshook Bhattacharyya and Prof. S.K.Panda of Mechanical Engineering Department. The team has successfully represented IIT Kharagpur at FSAE-UK, one of Europe’s most prestigious motorsport engineering competitions, and has emerged as one of the most cost-efficient teams over the years. It was one of the only two teams from India to ever qualify for Formula Student ’13 held at the Silverstone racing circuit and ranked 67 among 120 teams from all over the world.
The Autonomous Ground Vehicle Research Group (AGV) specialises in mobile robotics and aims to develop India’s first fully operational self-driving car. The group was established in 2011 under the guidance of Prof. Debashish Chakravarty of the Department of Mining Engineering. The team recently participated in the Intelligent Ground Vehicle Competition (IGVC), held annually by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) at University of Oakland, Detroit (Michigan), USA and bagged 5th & 9th positions among the 56 participating teams in the 600 ft long course Basic and Advanced Challenges respectively. The team’s entry – Eklavya 2.0 – was designed to carry a payload of 20 lbs around a grassy course marked by painted white lines and filled with randomly placed obstacles to reach all the given landmarks identified by their GPS coordinates.
Undergraduate research in Kgp, as in India, when compared to universities abroad may only seem like a fledgling venture. But we believe that given time, and the right support, it has the potential to change the face of Indian research, for the better. The choice is ours.