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Innovation Garage

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August 2017

Innovation Garage – NITW

 

Walking on the ever familiar path from the hostels to NAB our eyes involuntarily tend to gaze upon one of the most magnificent buildings in campus, the Innovation and Incubation Center. Home of the Innovation Garage. NITW’s very own brainchild. It stands ever inviting, leaving us in wonder about what lies behind the fancy walls and glass windows. But the question is,

Why wonder? 

Open 24 hours all 7 days a week for anyone and everyone, Innovation Garage provides an incredible platform for students to put forth their ideas, gain exposure to a multitude of ideologies and thought processes, interact with experts in the field and gain immense practical knowledge. We should consider ourselves lucky to have been provided with such a platform.

As a first year student in this college, one would normally be overwhelmed by the coursework, CGPA, assignments and so on and so forth. The question may arise, “How would Innovation Garage help me in any way?”. 

With a large number of events, Innovation Garage serves as a source to boost your knowledge and skill set in this ever technologically advancing world. 

IG has stepped into this academic year with full force. Garage Gossip, which consists weekly talks on various topics from highly experienced and knowledgeable students as well as alumni, was started this year. The IG open house aimed at giving all first years an insight as to what IG is all about. A workshop was conducted by the Facebook team at IG where students were introduced to new concepts and ideas and were given a chance to implement them practically under the guidance of able mentors. The most recent Arduino Workshop for freshers was a great success with over 475+ participants and 168 teams, we introduced them to the vast and endless world of coding to inspire creative new projects and ideas. Makeathon is an event IG is very widely known for and we have plans to make this year’s Makeathon bigger and better than ever.

As first years we’d tend to think that studies are everything. But the kind of learning atmosphere that IG provides cannot be found elsewhere. The above mentioned events and activities provide us with valuable practical knowledge which cannot be obtained from any textbook. The working atmosphere present in IG is very casual yet productive. There are a multitude of opportunities apart from technical development. Several management roles and positions such as coordination and publicity also give a great insight to the work that is put into the successful organisation of an event.

IG is meant to disrupt the way students and faculty work on campus, and how NITW is projectedIt gives us space to express, learn, create and innovate. We should definitely make full use of this amazing platform that has been provided to us and make the most of the available opportunities. 

 

Nurturing Innovation inside campus with Krishna Gupta

Krishna Gupta, an alumnus of NITW from department of Biotechnology(2013-2017), recently held a talk on ‘Engineering the Essence of Life’, as a part of Garage Gossip. Innovation Garage caught up with him to find out what he has been up to after graduating and receive his insights on how to nurture the ‘innovate’ culture inside the campus. Here’s what he had to say. 

Daksh: First of all, thank you so much for being here with us. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Krishna : Hey! I am Krishna Gupta. I am a recent alumnus of NITW from the department of biotechnology. As far as general things are concerned, I am more of a learner, a quick learner. I like learning new things and am always eager to do so. I am interested in numerous fields: music, dance, sports, quantum physics, psychology, philosophy and motivational speaking to name a few. So, a bit of everything. Jack of all trades, I guess (chuckles).

Daksh : That was some heavy intro. Moving on, being an alumnus, how does it feel to be back in college? What changes do you see around?

Krishna : I have been roaming around the college a lot lately. I liked what I saw. What I noticed was the student’s involvement in innovative activities has increased manifold. I see a lot of first years and juniors getting involved with IG, coming up with their own ideas, which is a brilliant thing to do.

Daksh : Krishna, tell us about your past experiences. The projects you might have done in college. Stuffs like that.

Krishna : Being an Erasmus student, I had been in Poland for a year where I carried out a few of them. In total, I have been involved in 8 projects, which included working for Government of Telangana, NPOs, etc., and all of them centered on biotechnology. But, I have done internships in other fields too, like management. On the other hand, my few projects are also dedicated to bettering the everyday life of general population. For that, I interact with a lot of people. I call them projects because they serve a purpose, albeit a small one.

Daksh : That’s pretty cool. Another cool thing that we got to know is that you built a cooler in your very first year. That certainly grasped our attention. How did you do it? What did you scavenge?

Krishna : It wasn’t really scavenging. I was just looking for a cheap alternative. To start with it, I collected the fundamental essentials. I bought a motor for around 120 rupees, a dustbin that costs 50 rupees. I did find an out-of-order water cooler and used its cover. Then I used a 5V mobile charger. You can get that anywhere. People tend to just throw them away if its pin breaks. So yeah that’s how I made that cooler. Overall it cost me around 300 rupees. I admit it wasn’t as efficient as commercially available ones but it was worth it, totally worth it. That’s what my motto is, to make a solution available at low costs.

Daksh : Wow! For a first year, that’s very cool. Pretty awesome actually.
Krishna : Then of course, there’s the experience. I can make better models now. That is always there.

Daksh : Learning by doing. Great perception. Krishna, in your talk, you regarded everyday issues as problem statements. Can you exemplify what you meant?

Krishna : There’s this statement by Richard Feynman – “There is plenty of room at the bottom.” Similarly, there are plenty of problems around us. For example, at some point of time, getting a chest pocket on the shirt was also an innovation because it made holding the pens convenient. I have heard about a fabric which can be used as a coat, a blazer or a suit. I was fascinated by it because I am fascinated by multi-purpose tools. Well, who isn’t? Our everyday life is packed with ‘small’ problems that we just ignore. For instance, for those who keep losing pendrives, like me, pendrives in debit card form is bliss. Now I can just keep it in my wallet. Problem solved. It’s a never ending list. But to keep it brief, everything, everything is a problem statement.

Daksh : So, in everything there’s an opportunity.

Krishna : Yes, and when I see one thing, I see others and then I connect the dots. That’s what Steve Jobs said, “Connect the dots.”

Daksh : In your talk, the major idea or rather the philosophy that came across is – “If you can’t afford it, build it.” In what ways would you like this philosophy to be implemented in our college?

Krishna : I’ll just give an example. We were having a talk with our alumni. We didn’t have a webcam. It costs about 1600 rupees. So, I just hacked 3 mobile phones, connected them to my laptop via Bluetooth. I used two of them as microphones that could be passed around and the third one as a webcam. What’s important is using the things to their fullest. That is what engineering is all about. Building things. For our college, why not build a pedal powered washing machine. It would become really popular among students. Because I don’t like washing clothes, and of course you don’t either. Then there’s assignment writers using arduino. Some people want plants in their rooms. Build a vertical plant wall. Many like to have artworks in their rooms. Why not make a chandelier out of thrown Amul Kool bottles!? I personally believe everyone should be able to build their own atmosphere.

Daksh : You being an alumnus are aware that the departments face a scarcity of equipments. So how about we call up students, give them designs for these equipments and let them build the equipments as projects. What are your views on this?

Krishna : Obviously! In first year itself we have Workshop, a compulsory lab course, where we are taught eight techniques. Before the 3D printers and other modern machinery, everything was built from scratch using these eight techniques. Why not do it now! And why can’t we do it. Whatever we require, we build it. We have enough material, machinery and infrastructure required to do it. We aren’t building smart phones or nothing complicated like that. What we require are very simple, basic equipments that we can build for a very low cost in our college itself.
It will be a good project, a good learning experience and it solves our departments’ major problem. And if we do it right, there’s a good a chance of some very nice startups coming up.

Daksh : We should totally be moving in that direction. Imagine NITW as a self-sustaining college in terms of equipments. Moving on, and this will be our last question for the day, what are your plans for the future?

Krishna : I am an entrepreneurial person. Given that I have enough time and money, I would consider coming up with projects and startups that connect me to more people by solving problems which they face everyday. After doing my Masters in Biomedical Diagnostics in Germany, I would like to start my own company in the field of healthcare. I would like to work on making Cancer detection easier. Currently, cancer detection tests cost at least Rs. 50,000-70,000. I would like to work on bringing the cost down to a few hundred rupees. I dream of contributing to the society by providing cheaper healthcare. Anyone I know might develop cancer or any other disease, maybe me or my parents, I don’t know. I am afraid of these things but I want to work on what I am afraid of, like Batman. I don’t want me or anyone else to be afraid. If I am afraid of having Cancer or something else, I’ll find a solution. So I don’t have to be.

Daksh : So basically, catch them before they catch you.

Krishna : Yes!

Daksh : Thank you so much for being here Krishna. To sum it all, if you can’t afford it…

Krishna : You build it.

Daksh : You build it.

-Daksh Pamar (2/4)
-Department of Biotechnology

Final Year Project Advice – CSE

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The Final Year Project Advice series by the Innovation Garage brings an article for the Computer Science and Engineering students to provide a helping hand with the final year project work.

The most commonly chosen disciplines in Computer Science and Engineering are ML, Distributed Systems, Crypto, Image Processing, Cloud computing, machine learning, data analytics etc.

Selecting a discipline for your project can depend on several factors. Build something that has never been done before or has been done poorly. Your idea need not come from a “reference paper”. You can build something completely new too. Do not take up a very small project like building some sort of chat bot or some social networking site. Take up something big, something that can make an impact. Think more from a research oriented side than a product oriented side. Work towards achieving a proof of concept rather than trying to build a business solution. If your idea is strong, you can always pursue it later on.

Professors are usually more than willing to help with your projects. Ask the faculties themselves. The teachers have a fair idea amongst themselves as to who is good in what. Other than that, you can browse through the teachers’ interests on their profile pages on the department websites and read up some of the research papers to see if your interests match.

As far as grading is concerned, get your work done and get a good grade. Out of 2 or 3 people in your team, the one who interacts more (read every week) with the prof gets the higher grade. So along with your work, make regular interactions with your prof. It need not be during the prescribed hours in the schedule. Drop in anytime you see the professor is in the cabin and ask for an hour to sync up on progress. If the professor is busy, schedule a meeting on the same day or next day.

Execution of the project is key. Don’t finalise the project till you figure out it’s feasibility. After finalising the project, focus on drafting the architecture and the solution to the problem you have chosen. This should be over in first sem. In second semester, you can start building a proof of concept or in some cases a formal mathematical proof. If it involves a lot of code from ground up, you are doing something wrong. You should use libraries wherever possible and write lesser code. again, the idea matters. whether you use camel casing or some other coding convention or how good OOPS you use in your code, it will hardly matter as the code is just a small example of your system working.

Keeping these tips and techniques in mind, the final year project will definitely become much easier to tackle.

Contributor: Saumyajit Dey

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