IIT Madras set to host Shaastra, one of India’s largest Student-run Tech Festivals

Chennai: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) is all set to host Shaastra 2020, one of the largest tech festivals in India to be completely run by students. This flagship event will be held between 3rd and 6th January 2020 with a host of events planned. This will be the 20th Edition of this annual event.

Nearly 40 events and 30 workshops have been scheduled this year with a total footfall of over 40,000 students, participants and visitors expected. An Exhibition featuring student innovations, startups and visiting college teams is being organized at the KV Grounds in IIT Madras campus on all four days, which will be open to the public.

The theme for this year’s edition of Shaastra is ‘Parsec to Plank,’ focussing on miniaturization, the technological trend in which the sizes of mechanical, electronic and optical products are constantly being scaled down in size while maintaining the same or a superior quality. The first ‘computer’ to be invented, ENIAC, occupied around 18,000 square feet and weighed almost 50 tons!

Addressing a Press Conference on campus today (31st December 2019), Prof Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras, said, “We have many clubs to encourage co-curricular activities. This event is completely run by students, with faculty only having an advisory role. Various parts of the Institute are connected to Shaastra and through this event, they learn how to go beyond the classroom and reach out to a large student community across the country. Everybody benefits, we learn and our students learn along with the visiting students. This is an event to connect with students across the country.”

This year, IIT Madras students have introduced ‘Assistive Technology (AT) Makeathon’ in collaboration with IIT Madras’ TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research and Device Development (R2D2), which developed India’s first indigenously designed standing wheelchair. The objective is to provide effective solutions by combining students’ ideas and innovations with the resources of R2D2. This will help enhance the quality of life for the elderly, adults and children with disabilities by implementing successful prototypes designed by students. This will also create a mindset for social entrepreneurship among engineering students by providing them a platform to showcase their ideas and enabling them to set up their start-ups.

Highlighting the unique aspects of Shaastra 2020, Prof M.S. Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras, said, “As a premier institute leading in the fields of engineering, technology and sciences, we put extensive efforts in building an ecosystem that provides opportunities to learn, collaborate and innovate. These efforts culminate into the mega-event that Shaastra is.”

This year, Shaastra is collaborating with defence technology start-ups, manufacturers and the military to host a ‘Defence Expo’, which will shed light on the technological advancements in the robust and dynamic Defence Technology space.”

Also, the Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub, a movement based in UCL, London, to accelerate disability innovation, will be the mentoring the ‘Assistive Technology (AT) Makeathon,’ GDI hub aims to build a movement to accelerate disability innovation for creating a fairer world. In addition to the prize money, winners will have the opportunity to be supported with business acceleration at GDI Hub as part of a new Inclusive Innovation Ecosystem.

Elaborating on the event, Prof Shaikh Faruque Ali, Faculty Advisor, Shaastra, IIT Madras, said, “Shaastra has always believed in giving back to the society in meaningful ways and creating grassroots impact. Shaastra 2020’s social endeavour, BLINK, continues this legacy by empowering the visually impaired and enabling them to realise their full potential.”

Further, Prof Shaikh Faruque Ali said, “We also have ‘The Institute Open House’ this year, an event through which we wish to showcase our innovation. Along with this, we will be hosting participants at the IIT Madras Research Park”

In a novel initiative named ‘BLINK,’ IIT Madras students have been working with organizations across the city to transform the pedagogy for visually-impaired students, particularly for those in primary and secondary schools. The campaign has reached out to over 200 students so far and the team is currently looking to expand their reach to other cities in Tamil Nadu.

The Institute Open House at Shaastra 2020 will be a two-day event happening on the 3rd and 4th of January 2020 dedicated to providing an insight into the pathbreaking research work, student projects and the numerous advanced facilities present at IIT Madras.

Sharing the student experiences in organizing such a massive event, Ms. Kollipara Pravallika, Co-Curricular Affairs Secretary, IIT Madras, said, “Every edition of Shaastra rolls out multiple events, shows, lectures and workshops with a single goal in mind, to promote ‘the Spirit of Engineering.’ Shaastra 2020 upholds the same spirit through the myriad of events it organises. This year’s Shaastra will be hosting prominent leaders from various fields, such as Dr. V.K.Saraswat, former director general of DRDO and Lord Meghnad Desai, eminent economist.”

Ms. Kollipara Pravallika added, “We are also holding competitions at an unprecedented scale, like Boeing’s National Aeromodelling Competition and the Indian Drone Racing League.”

Mr. Alexandre Agular, Vice President, Engineering of Socure, Shaastra 2020’s title sponsor, added, “Socure is proud to associate with South India’s largest technical festival and we are looking forward to the events and workshops scheduled during the 4 days of Shaastra and to engage with the student community.”

Shaastra 2020 will also host Defence Tech Summit, which consists of lectures from the best minds in the field, live demos, hands-on workshops, a defence expo showcasing tech from the Armed Forces, defence tech companies and start-ups, and competitions that will challenge the participants to go beyond their boundaries.

The Defence Expo is an exhibition of the products of nascent defence technology start-ups, established manufacturers and the military. It will be conducted over the course of the 3 days of the Summit. Through this, the Defence Tech Summit intends to bring exposure to the participants of both Summit and Shaastra alike in the Defence Technology space.