Mandi: Indian Institute of Technology Mandi successfully completed another year of achievements in research and innovation despite uncertainties due to the pandemic.
Speaking about the important steps taken by the Institute during the year to tackle unseen challenges due to the pandemic, Prof. Ajit K. Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Mandi, said, “The year 2020 held many challenges in front of us and I am happy to say that in spite of the pandemic, IIT Mandi has excelled in the fields of academics, innovation, international linkages, student placements and business incubation. Thus, the institute developed many products for a self-reliant and sustainable ecosystem.”
IIT Mandi implemented quick and effective safety measures to protect its students, faculty and staff from COVID19. Keeping in mind the growing Coronavirus infection, and complying with the directions from the Ministry of Education, the Institute suspended all academic and extracurricular activities for its students and proactively opted for virtual classes in order to minimise the impact of the disruption on the students’ learning. IIT Mandi celebrated 8th Convocation in virtual mode for the outgoing B.Tech., Ph.D. and M.S. Scholars, as well as arranged a virtual welcome of 330 students in the new B.Tech. batch.
For continual teaching, the Institute arranged and setup 15 dedicated classrooms for online teaching. The Institute equipped each online classroom with a computer, a large screen to view students, a collar microphone, a high-resolution web camera mounted on a tripod to cast presenter’s face, a green board to use chalk for writing and a high-resolution smart writing pad with a stylus for those who prefer to teach using these devices.
Highlighting the unique aspects of IIT Mandi’s initiatives in blended learning, Dr. Pradeep Parameswaran, Dean Academics, IIT Mandi, said, “The institute quickly adapted to the online mode of teaching once the national lockdown started in March 2020. The regular teaching activities of the institute are continuing in online mode. We have set up more than 15 smart classrooms for online teaching purposes.”
Apart from the teaching aspect, IIT Mandi also excelled on the research and innovation front to help the community at large. From developing face masks from waste PET bottles and low-cost smart ventilator, to tracking the spread of COVID-19 in India via social networks, IIT Mandi researchers and innovators have made tireless efforts and contribution to help tackle the pandemic. Some prominent research and innovation includes:
⮚ Research on comparing disordered proteins in COVID-19
Dr Rajanish Giri, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi, along with his research team used computational tools to understand an important part of the viral proteome called Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions (IDPRs). The research team investigated the disordered side of SARS-CoV-2 proteome using a complementary set of computational approaches to check the prevalence of IDPRs in its proteins and to shed some light on their disorder-related functions and also their disorder-based binding motifs, known as molecular recognition features. The results of this work have been published in the journal, Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences.
⮚ Research on tracking the spread of COVID-19 in India via social networks
Dr. Sarita Azad, Assistant Professor, School of Basic Sciences, IIT Mandi, traced the spread of COVID-19 and its diffusion from the global to national level and identified a few superspreaders who played a central role in the transmission of the disease in India. In the past few months, many articles have been published on COVID-19 but in this research, the team also showed the spread of COVID-19 using social network analysis which is not done so far.
Along with this, IIT Mandi also played a key role to help tackle COVID-19 in the Himachal Pradesh region. The Institute signed an MoU with Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Government Medical College & Hospital and extended its support to set up a real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory for diagnosing Coronavirus in the region. The laboratory has helped the authorities in ramping up the testing process by analysing up to 1000 samples per day for the detection of COVID-19.
Apart from this Dr. Varun Dutt, Associate Professor, School of Computing & Electrical Engineering, IIT Mandi, along with his B.Tech. students developed a website for the military personnel and their family members visiting the army canteens. Through this website, visitors can register before visiting the canteen to help maintain social distancing. The team also developed and installed an automatic thermal screening machine in the District administration office to prevent the spread of corona infection
⮚ High-Efficiency Face Masks from Waste ‘PET Bottles’
Dr. Sumit Sinha Ray, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi, along with his research scholars developed an indigenous technology for manufacturing high-efficiency face masks from waste ‘PET bottles’. The researchers achieved this by using waste plastic bottles to develop a single thin layer of nano-nonwoven membrane that provides desirable particle filtration efficiency, at par with N95 respirator and a medical mask. The product has been developed and tested in the Multiscale Fabrication and Nanotechnology Laboratory at IIT Mandi.
⮚ Wi-Fi Operated Smart Ventilator
Dr. Apran Gupta, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi, along with research scholars developed a smart ventilator costing only Rs 4,000. The developed prototype is a mechanised Artificial Manual Breathing Unit (AMBU) bag with options to control breath rate and volume of air going into the patient’s lungs. The unique feature of the developed product is, apart from manual operation, it can be controlled by a mobile application over wifi as well. For the same, the smartphone application, ‘IIT Mandi Ventilator’ has been developed at IIT Mandi.
⮚ UV-C Disinfection Box
Dr. Himanshu Pathak and Dr. Sunny Zafar, Assistant Professors, School of Engineering, IIT Mandi, have developed an Ultraviolet-C (UV-C) light-based portable disinfection box at a cost of ₹35,000 to disinfect metallic, plastic and cardboard products like wallets, keys, spectacles, bags, courier packages and parcels, among others, to minimise the risk of COVID-19.
IIT Mandi concludes the year on a positive note and wishes everyone a brighter, healthier and successful new year 2021.