IIT Madras’ RuTAG launches annual contest to develop technologies for Rural Problems

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Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras’ Rural Technology Action Group- Tamil Nadu (RuTAG-TN) has launched an annual contest to encourage the development of technologies that will solve problems in rural areas of the country.

‘Rural Innovative TechnologZ’(RITZ) will be an annual event for Polytechnic Colleges in Tamil Nadu with the objective being to tap into the potential of students and faculty members to contribute to solving rural problems.

Over 140 students belonging to 26 teams from 17 colleges across Chennai participated in the Inaugural Edition of this contest. They were given three problem statements: ‘Solar drier for agricultural produce’, ‘Mechanized palm tree climber’ and ‘Mechanized vegetable slicer for large-scale rural applications’. The top team in each category will be provided funding of up to Rs. 50,000 each to develop a prototype.

The finals were held in the IIT Madras campus today (Wednesday 24th January 2018) in which 11 teams, comprising 42 students from seven colleges, were shortlisted to demonstrate their models.

Speaking about the contest, Prof. Abhijit Deshpande, Professor-in-Charge, RuTAG-TN said: “RuTAG – Tamil Nadu aims to deliver Science and Technology interventions for rural context. Engineering skillset from different institutions are required for a successful development and dissemination of the technology. We believe that the skills available in polytechnic colleges will be valuable to develop quick and feasible technical solutions. We hope to continue building our network of technical institutions interested to deliver quality interventions, with initiatives such as these.”

Addressing the inaugural function of RITZ 2018, Dr. M. Arul Arasu, Additional Director (Examinations), Directorate of Technical Education who was the chief guest, “”As India is moving from a developing nation into a developed nation, there is a need to take appropriate technologies to rural areas. In order to bridge this gap, RuTAG is doing commendable work and I am sure that events like RITZ will inculcate the spark among students from polytechnic colleges.”

Dr. Muthukrishnaiah, Principal, Dr. Dharmambal Polytechnic College for Women, Taramani, said: I congratulate RuTAG for conducting an event to cultivate creativity in the minds of young people. Such initiatives will encourage students across Tamil Nadu to come up with novel technological innovations for rural areas.

Dr. V. Seetharaman, Programme Coordinator and Nodal Officer, Skills Training Programme, Directorate of Technical Education and Dr. A. Senthil Kumar, Lecturer, State Institute of Commerce Education, Taramani also graced the occasion.

PRIZE WINNING ENTRIES

The team that won the top place for ‘Solar drier for agricultural produce’ problem statement comprised: Mr. Sai Prassana.K, Mr. Poornesh.V and Mr. Charan Chandran.S mentored by their faculty Mr. Mohanarangan.C from Panimalar Polytechnic College

The team that won the top place for ‘Mechanized Vegetable Slicer for large scale rural applications’ comprised: Mr. Tharun Kumar.R, Mr. Abhishek.K.S., Mr. Subash.P, Mr. Aravind.R and Mr. Abaysingh.J.W.N mentored by their faculty Sathish G from Sri Balaji Polytechnic College,

The team that won the top place for ‘Mechanized palm tree climber’ problem statement comprised: Mr. Zubair Ahmed.N , Mr. Kishore Kumar.V , Mr. John Kristien. and Mr. Gopi.E mentored by their faculty Mr. Nijanthan.P and Ms. Chandra Karthik.A from Little Flower Polytechnic College

Solar Drier: Hybrid solar dryer consists of absorber plate, drying chamber, air blower, ventilation and electronics control unit. Absorber plate absorbs as much radiation as possible to generate hot air, which is passed to the drying chamber using an air blower. This removes moisture from the produce. The drier uses easily available materials that makes it affordable at Rs. 27,000.

Vegetable slicer: Vegetables are sent one by one to a two-step conveyor from the hopper. Two blades rotate to chop the vegetables into bigger pieces. A piston presses down the chopped vegetables through the blades to cut them into smaller pieces. The piston pressure changes as per vegetable type, while the blades can be changed as per needed size and shape. The setup is estimated to cost Rs. 35,000.

Palm tree climber: The device is a mechanical device consisting of two pieces. While top segment has a provision to sit comfortably, the bottom segment has a foot grip. It can rotate 360 degrees to facilitate easy collection of produce. Extra features include provision for leaning backwards comfortably and sun protection slider cap. The product is affordable costing up to Rs. 5000

RuTAG-TN, IIT Madras, is an initiative of the Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India to enable development and dissemination of demand-driven Science and Technology interventions by technical institutions in rural areas. Over the past decade, RuTAG-TN has only interacted with engineering colleges and R&D institutions in order to develop technical solutions for issues raised from rural areas in the sectors of livelihoods, assistive technologies, textiles, health and sanitation, energy. Potential benefits of the interventions include, inter alia, improving quality of life, drudgery reduction, efficiency improvement and optimization of resource usage.