Engineered To Innovate

The world has taken cognizance of the language and mathematical skills of the Indian student; hence it is no wonder that we find them across the globe engaging their skills and knowledge in various sectors. The performance and intelligence quotient of Indian students has not ceased to fascinate the western world to this day.

Perhaps, this realisation inspired a multinational company like GE to come up with a unique competition for budding engineers, scientists and technologists who are studying in various semesters of their course in prestigious institutes across India.

The John F Welch Technology Center (JFWTC) of General Electric’s (GE) first and largest integrated multidisciplinary Research and Development Center outside the US came up with the idea of launching GE- Edison Challenge.

Dr Guillemore Wille, Managing Director, JFWTC, who has had a wide experience in the field of research and teaching felt the need to float such a competition to make the student community realise the needs of the industry. He also hopes that the competition will aid in identifying talent who could eventually contribute constructively in the area of research and development.
As a maiden venture JFWTC charted out four different topics to tap the inherent talent and acquired knowledge of the students. Ground-breaking projects in areas of Self-Cooling Engines, Train Informatics, Home Energy Solutions and Early Detection of Diseases were invited from student groups across the nation. The authorities conducting the competition made it very clear that besides technical expertise the competitors would be given brownie points for being sensitive to the needs of the industry and the country as a whole.

Dr. Guillemore Wille, who is apparently pleased with the process of the competition, observed a keen competition among the participants.

He pointed out that if Indian students were exposed to more practical learning through internship and interface with industries they were likely to emerge as better performers in the long run. He said competitions like GE-Edison Challenge are likely to act as tests for students to help them distinguish between what they know and what they need to know.

When the competition was announced two months ago the JFWTC was flooded with one hundred and seventy entries brimming with ideas. Student groups were given the opportunity to present their best work to some of the most experienced people in the industry and members of the scientific community. The judges of the initial rounds had a hard time evaluating the entries in terms of originality, creativity, feasibility and expenditure involved while bringing down the number of teams to seventeen made it to the finals. Eventually two colleges emerged as victors.

Manipal Institute of Technology walked away with a cash prize of Rs Five lakhs for coming up with a useful project which will help railways to get the maximum data about moving trains that pass a specific stretch.

The winning team who called themselves – Fastrack Developers, was very happy that their idea had clicked so effectively. Vasuki Prasad, Rupan Sarkar, Rahul Sharma, Gaurav Kumar Burman and Pranab Purkayastha the prize winners hope to start their own business in the coming years.

The students of IIT Kharaghpur who designed “self- cooling engines” came second. There was no third prize. After all, the aim of this competition is to segregate the crème la crème among the intelligent and innovative young minds and nurture the scientific spirit in them.

All the participants were overwhelmed by the proportion and intensity of the competition and have understood that they have become a part of history by participating in the first ever competition of this genre.

The organisers of Edison Challenge said that every entry that made to the finals had a unique appeal of its own and if they were weeded for occasional technical glitches then they were certainly strong rivals to the prize winners. They also told that they intend to continue in their endeavours to better the collaboration between  the industry and academia by conducting Edison challenge year after year.

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