Gandhinagar: The Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) organised ‘Project Isaac Showcase’ on January 29, 2021, an exciting and fun-filled event to celebrate and reward the talent and creativity of students, that exhibited the best and most creative works generated by students during the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India
‘Project Isaac Showcase’ recognised students’ resilience and creative expression during the difficult times with live musical performances, recitations, virtual gallery walkthroughs for sketches and paintings, quizzes, and prizes that made it a memorable evening. The Institute received 76 entries for the ‘Project Isaac Showcase’ under broad categories of poetry, short stories, sketches, paintings, and multimedia audio-visuals. The sketches and paintings mirrored human emotions, the beauty of nature, tales from mythology, and fun of various animation characters. Through poetry, the students reflected on life, love, the COVID times, campus life, environment, and nature. The short stories written by students take us through the journey of identity, quarantine, time travel, and more. And the multimedia audio-visual entries spanned from a Rube Goldberg Machine to visual love stories, coordinated dance videos, and songs.
Sharing her experience, Caren Felicia, a student of MSc (Cognitive Science), who has won the first prize for her short story titled ‘The Train Ticket’ and third prize for her poem titled ‘Quarantine Days’ said, “I found Project Isaac to be very engaging during the lockdown period. It kept me motivated to involve myself in something more active. When everything is happening online, it can sometimes take the fun out of trying new things. But through Project Isaac, I got adapted to the new normal and expressed my thoughts through poetry and short stories.”
Expressing his thoughts after winning the first prize in the category of poetry, Shreyas Sreeram, who graduated with a BTech (Materials Engineering) in the year 2020 said, “To me, Project Isaac was a way to express myself productively during the lockdown. It helped me connect back to my inner self and rediscover my passion and interests in the initial period of the lockdown. My poem, ‘The Lone Wolf’, was inspired from the movie ‘The Notebook’.”
Varun Dolia, a fourth-year student of BTech (Materials Engineering) and one of the prize winners in the category of short stories shared the motivation behind participating in the contest and continuing his creative pursuit and said, “I found the idea pretty novel. This originality was, in fact, the primary element that motivated me to participate in Project Isaac. Coincidentally, I had also come across a beautiful concept in a book I was reading during the same period; stitching these two ends, I eventually decided to write an article/short story on that topic and start a blog of my own.”
The first, second and third prize winners in each of the five categories were awarded Rs, 10,000; 6,000; and 4,000 respectively, taking the total prize money for this multi-talent contest to Rs 1 lakh.
Sharing his thoughts on the enthusiasm shown by IITGN students amid these extraordinary times, Prof Sudhir K Jain, Director, IITGN said, “It is heartening to see the immensely creative and expressive work of our students during a global crisis. This is a very fine example of what IITGN stands for, to convert an adverse situation into an opportunity and not be bogged down by the challenges. IIT Gandhinagar encourages these creative pursuits as an integral component of their educational experience. The resilience and mutual compassion demonstrated by the entire IITGN community during the past few months has been remarkable and helped us emerge stronger and better.”
The virtual show and prize ceremony was the culmination of a massive talent contest called ‘Project Isaac’, which was inspired by the early years of Sir Isaac Newton’s life when he had developed some of his most profound discoveries while confined at home during the Great Plague of London in 1665. This multi-talent contest was launched in March 2020 to motivate IITGN students to use the lockdown period in cultivating novel skills in writing, painting, coding, music, creative expression, etc., which are increasingly important for personal and professional success. More than 50 percent of IITGN students voluntarily participated in several exciting contests between March to June 2020, competing for daily prizes and awards.
IITGN is also publishing compilations of these creative expressions as e-flipbooks and books.