Ready for a Robo-fix?

From a time when robotics competitions seemed like a far-fetched dream, to have not just one but over a dozen robotics competitions organised throughout the year, things seem to be looking better for the engineering students in India. One of the many competitions is the Nation Robotics Championship (NRC), whose grand finale is all set to take place in IIT Bombay on April 13.

Professor Krithi Ramamritham (right)watches while a faculty member tests a robot at the opening of new E-Yantra lab at Vidyalankar Institute of Technology (VIT)

Play robo-cop
“Most engineering students are always focused in studies. They never get a chance to apply their theoretical knowledge on practical cases. Through this competition, they were taught how to use their knowledge to build things,” says Ramkrishan Sahu, event manager at NRC 2013.

The competition, which was launched in January this year, saw participation of over 1,000 colleges and 30,000 teams from all over India in the zonal rounds. Now the final 54 will battle it out for the top prizes at IIT Bombay on April 13.

The Firebird provided by E-Yantra

Although it’s the last competition of the academic year 2013, NRC is not alone in promoting robotics in the country. The biggest, and probably the master of all, is the E-Yantra Lab Set-up Initiative (ELSI), taken up by IIT Bombay’s two professors Kavi Arya and Krithi Ramamritham, and financed by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, under their National Mission for Education in Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT) programme. E-Yantra plans to setup 100 labs in India that could train students in robotic systems this year.

“Engineering today is a multidisciplinary field; one can’t function without help from others. Robotics is an area that combines all engineering fields,” reasons Professor Arya. Today, India has over a dozen robotics championships, being organised at school and college levels. Professor Arya is content with the increase in the number of robotics competitions in India. “We hope the number rises,” he says, adding, “The role of an engineer is that of a problem-solver, they can’t do that without applying their theoretical knowledge in solving a practical problem. These competitions not only help them apply their knowledge but judge their maturity as engineers.”

Professor Kavi Arya (right) with a faculty at VIT

Watch out for these
Some of the popular championships include TRICKS – the national robotics championship held every December, the Interschool Robotics Championship in March, Techkriti RoboGames organised by Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, Techfest, the inter-collegeiate festival of IIT Bombay, Robotix organised by IIT Kharagpur and Quark Roboficial by BITS, Pilani. Besides these,  E-Yantra also organises a national level competition, for teachers and students. “Unlike other competitions, ours is academic-oriented. It tests students and teachers on all levels, and the prize is an internship at the lab,” adds Professor Arya. The competition is held in July every year.

National level competitions

National Robotics Championship by Ark Technosolutions, registration starts in January every year.
Inter-School Robotics Challenge, held in January every year.
Tricks, the national level robotics championship, held in December every year.
E-Yantra National Robotics Championship, held in July every year. 

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