Children’s environmental concerns find voice at IIT Kharagpur’s Young Innovators Program 2019

KOLKATA: Greta Thunberg can take heart. The theme of ‘Energy and Environment’ received top billing at IIT Kharagpur’s Young Innovators Program 2019, with a majority of the participating school students electing to find their own ways to combat pollution and promote conservation. In its third edition, the contest drew students from Classes VIII-X from schools all over India and abroad to brainstorm on the themes of Health and Cleanliness, Hardware Modelling, Product Designing, Disaster Management,

Financial Inclusion, as also Energy and Environment. The grand finale of YIP was held at the IIT Kharagpur campus over three days ending on November 10.

The team that walked away with the trophy for 2019 was Team Divyang from KIIT International School, Bhubaneswar. Students Pritesh Deb, Divyan Sahoo and Ankit Pradhan designed a green water dispenser for the use of the differently-abled. Operated by foot or body weight through a simple lever mechanism, the user could use the water to take a shower, water plants or bathe a guide dog.

The first runner-up was Team Kriyative Bhavanites from the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavans Public School, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad. Siddhanth Yellanki and Shreyas Bhargava won the prize for their activated charcoal smoke filter made from coconut shells and corn cobs that could be fitted on vehicles to reduce emission. The second runner up was Team Innovative loops from Brahm Prakash D.A.V School, Hyderabad. P. Pranavaditya, Raj Bhattacharjee and Shreyas Biradar of the team, inspired by the Chandrayan mission, have developed an Astron telescope with 7 plane mirrors set in honey comb structure that can capture bright and high quality image during a space mission.

“What is important to remember is not only the necessity of innovation, but also the importance of implementation,” said Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, during his inaugural address. IIT Kharagpur’s alumni as also corporate sponsors such as Indigene and ICICI made YIP 2019 such a success.

Among several other notable innovations was Sakhi – a biodegradable sanitary pad – made from natural materials such as cotton, dry leaves, resin and coconut husk by the students of Delhi Public School, Ruby Park, Kolkata. The project won “special mention” from the judges – consisting of a multi-disciplinary team of faculty members of IIT Kharagpur – for its boldness, given the social stigma surrounding the subject of menstruation.

“YIP is not a contest, but a platform where students can showcase their ideas and mingle with others so that greater ideas can emerge,” said Anandaroop Bhattacharya, Associate Dean, International Relations. What was particularly noteworthy of YIP 2019 was not only the fact that girls were members of almost every team, and that the teams hailed from both international schools and district schools of India, but the quality of thought and superior technology that students brought to the table. Several of the teams had worked with Arduino, and some had even used AI to frame solutions to problems.

Six teams were selected for the final round and were evaluated for not only the originality of the project ideas and the quality of presentation but also their societal impact. A total of 32 teams had made it to the final two rounds that began on November 8 at the IIT Kharagpur campus. The competition, which went international last year, received applications from UAE and ASEAN countries. Two teams from Singapore, and one team each from Indonesia and UAE made it to the semi-finals.

“For 200,000 years, human history has been a story of constant inventions. We are where we are today for our ability to innovate and cooperate. You are the inheritors of the legacy, both good and bad. It is for you to find the way forward,” Baidurya Bhattacharya, Dean, International Relations, said to students while inaugurating the YIP 2019 finals. The inauguration saw a Pledge for the Environment being taken by the 300 strong crowd of participants, teachers and parents who attended the event.

The third edition of the Young Innovators Program saw enthusiastic participation from schools from six countries in South East Asia and Middle East. Teachers from these schools who came for the semi-finals shared their observations between the technology centric lives of the people in those countries and the dynamic experience of students in India which enables the latter to think ideate challenges at much deeper levels of the society and also the opportunity to experiment to execute the ideation.

Further it received enthusiastic support from corporate groups like ICICI Bank which was the event sponsor and Indegene and the alumni community of whom illustrious alumnus of IIT Kharagpur and US based entrepreneur seeded the prize money.

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