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Techfest

Techfest is the Annual Science and Technology Festival of Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB), Mumbai, (India). Techfest is held every January over a period of three days on the IIT Bombay campus. Techfest started off on a small scale in 1998 with the aim of providing a platform for students to showcase their technical skills and in the short period of 10 years has grown to become Asia’s largest festival of its kind. The last few editions of Techfest have seen more than 45,000 participants from more than 1,500 colleges across India along with teams from countries like the USA, Singapore, Nepal, Iran, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, UAE and Pakistan. Apart from student involvement, Techfest also sees more than 2,000 faculty and corporate participants.

Organization

Techfest is an entirely student-organized fest. The Techfest Team is three tiered in nature. Heading the team is the Overall Coordinator along with a team of managers. The managers can be broadly categorized into two sections—administration and events. The events managers deal with the events that will happen in the fest like competitions, exhibitions, lectures, informals and workshops. The administrative managers deal with issues like accounts, infrastructure, marketing, hospitality, publicity and media. Each manager then has his own team of coordinators and organizers. The coordinators and organizers help the manager in looking into the nitty-gritty of the department and ensuring that ideas of the team are executed smoothly.

History and growth

The very first edition of Techfest held in 1998 saw about 3,000 students from across India take part. The underlying spirit of the competitions was "Technology is fun" a motto that has been followed by every Techfest since. Techfest ’98 also set the broad outlines of Techfest in the form of competitions, lectures, workshops and exhibitions which went on to become a standard feature at every Techfest. Over the next three years Techfest saw rapid growth and soon made a mark for itself as the premier technical fest in India. Newer and more interesting competitions and a wider spectrum of topics being covered in every aspect were the chief reasons for growth. Entrepreneurship also made an appearance in the 1999 and 2000 editions. Technoholix—Techfest at Dark which showcases technological entertainment at the end of each day as well as HUB—the centre of on the spot activities, made their debut during these years.

Techfest 2002 saw the incorporation of IIT Bombay’s department based events like Yantriki, Chemsplash and Last Straw. These events which were quite popular in their own right now enjoyed massive popularity with the extended reach of Techfest. These competitions soon became the byword for Techfest over the next 3 years which saw a variety of interesting competitions held under their aegis. With the growing participation and colleges from across India competing to win at Techfest, Techfest 2003 launched the Techfest trophy to make the competition more interesting.

Techfest 2004 marked a big milestone in the growth of Techfest as this was the year Techfest officially became an International event with the introduction of Cliffhanger—The International Competition. It also saw the introduction of the world renowned robotics competition, Micromouse for the first time in India. Techfest 2005 saw even more challenging problem statements in the form of competitions like Survivor as well as Drishti, which was conceived with the National Association for the Blind (NAB) in order to provide aids for the visually challenged. Techfest ’06 marked a radical change in the outlook of a technical festival, even with respect to the previous Techfests. The emphasis at Techfest ’06 was on technology and its applications rather than just engineering know—how. With this view, a section of competitions held under the name E-Rustique had problem statements that encouraged the participants to come up with solutions to existing rural problems and hence contribute to the development of modern India.

Techfest 2007 introduced an event Nexus to take robotics to the masses via workshops and subsequent competitions with easy problem statements. In 2008, Nexus was conducted at 7 centers across India namely Indore, Calicut, Jaipur, New Delhi, Pune, Surat & Mumbai and witnessed participation from more than 500 teams in all, making it a truly national event. Also, with Techfest 2008 returned the trend of taking up of initiatives by the Techfest team for social and public causes. With an engineering background to support them, the vision is to make significant contributions towards obtaining a solution to addressed problems. The initiative at Techfest 2008 aimed at combating global warming by holding relevant competitions and spreading awareness among the masses about the same through workshops and lectures. Subsequently, Techfest 2009 takes up the initiative "Prayaas" to work towards addressing the looming energy crisis and exploring alternate energy resources.

Edition Synopses

Techfest 1998

The inaugural Techfest aimed at bringing the academia and industry on a common platform. This was achieved through the various competitions, lectures and workshops. For the competitions, the problem statements were framed and judged by the faculty members of IIT Bombay. Some interesting competitions included Siemens Gripper Design Contest, MBT Windmill Design Contest and Cadbury's "Googly: design a dispenser contest". The workshops conducted included the internet, astronomy and aeromodelling workshops. The InfoTech Show saw the leading companies from India as well as some from Silicon Valley participate and showcased various products in global information technology. BARC Atomic Energy Exhibition also displayed the latest breakthroughs achieved by the atomic and nuclear energy departments of the Government of India. The lecture series saw a number of world renowned scientists and personalities including Prof U.R. Rao and Mr. Sam Pitroda.

Techfest 1999

The second edition saw more competitions and larger participation from students and corporate alike. Oracle Hello World Wide Web—an online synchronous programming contest was the first of its kind. Other competitions included Cadbury's Cool Dispenser Contest and Discovery Channel Science and Technology Olympiad. The lecture series saw more personalities from the industry including Mr. N.R. Narayana Murthy and Mr Vinod Dham. Apart from technical topics, the workshops this year had one on stocks and capital markets called Money Talks as well as one on entrepreneurship called Enterprises. ElectronEx—The Industrial Exhibition presented the latest technology and developments in the world of communication and electronics. Technoholix or ‘Techfest at Dark’ came into being this year with the emphasis on combining technology and entertainment at the end of the day as relaxation for a hard day’s work.

Techfest 2000

With the turn of the millennium, Techfest focused on how technology can be used to change the world for better. Techfest 2000 was not limited to technology but also encompassed areas like entrepreneurship. It also attempted to bring to focus the social aspects of technology. Competitions tested not only the creative abilities of students but also how they faced the challenge of solving real life industrial problems. The major competitions were "Big Bang" and "Figure Out". The workshops covered a number of interesting topics like Extra Terrestrial Intelligence and Animation and Special Effects. There was a paper presentation competition—Oorja to understand the role of “energy” in India. Techfest for the first time also witnessed a panel debate on Energy, Environment & Development. Another special event was Convergence 2000 which was aimed at bringing out the technological, regulatory, social and economic aspects of convergence with the help of lectures and included a symposium as well. Entrepreneurship continued from where it had left off in Techfest 1999 with this edition hosting Eureka—a very well received business plan competition.

Techfest 2001

Techfest 2001 saw more changes from the previous editions and more innovations in organizing as well as from the participating entries. This edition saw the premier of a play Angst Angst, Kuntah Kuntah, Boom Bam Dhandal Dhamaal Kaput which looked at the dilemma faced by the youth when someone deep rooted in centuries of culture is confronted with technology. Tech—a – tete comprised three modules—lecture series; Crossfire, a panel debate on the Human Genome Project; and Spectrum, where exotic topics like cosmology and human computer interaction were discussed. Another interesting topic covered was paranormal research through PSIence. HUB—the centre for on the spot events as well as Technoholix were other major events this year.

Techfest 2002

The fifth edition of Techfest saw the introduction of new competitions in the form of Yantriki, Chemsplash and Last Straw. These competitions specially targeted students of engineering branches like mechanical, chemical and civil. Yantriki in particular was aimed at promoting robotics and held in 3 levels to ensure that everyone from the amateurs to the pros had their share of fun. The Lecture Series saw very important and famous personalities like Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Honourable President of India and Mr. Rajat Gupta, CEO of McKinsey and Co. Technoholix also had something special in store—the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 which was on display for the first time after its official launch a few days earlier at the Auto Expo. Workshops were also quite in demand due to the interesting range of topics being covered which included artificial intelligence, HAM and forensics.

Techfest 2003

With growing participation from across the country, Techfest 2003 came out with the inaugural Techfest trophy to be awarded to the college which won the maximum events. Competitions included not only the regular ones like Yantriki but also some exciting ones like Water Rockets as well as modeling of real life problems like Sim City where participants were asked to develop a completely planned city. A panel debate and speakers like Ankit Fadia, the 17 year old whiz kid and author of ‘Unofficial Guide to Ethical Hacking’ were also crowd pullers. Technoholix was witness to the Aibo League Robocup by robots from Germany as well as a special 3D Laser show.

Techfest 2004

Techfest took a big step forward by going international in 2004. Cliffhanger—the international competition was designed to meet internationally accepted standards and saw wonderful participation not only from Indian colleges but also countries like Singapore, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Apart from Cliffhanger, Micromouse the internationally renowned robotics competition made its debut in India at Techfest 2004. Other competitions like la porsChe, Dirt Racing and Last Man Standing were also witness to enthusiastic participation. Intellectual Property Rights and Gaming were a few of the subjects covered under workshops. Mr. Ferenc Cako of Hungary gave a splendid performance of sand animation in front of a jam packed OAT. Mr Barry O’Brian, the renowned quiz master hosted the finals of the Sci Tech quiz. Amongst the speakers were Prof Kevin Warwick of Project Cyborg fame and Dr Bharat Balasubramaniam of Daimler Chrysler. The last day of Techfest, which coincided with Republic Day was made all the more special by the Aakash Ganga team of the Indian Air Force with a breath taking para-jumping show. The Indian Navy also put up an exhibition at Techfest which was the largest ever outside a naval dockyard.

Techfest 2005

The crux of Techfest 2005 ‘Technology for All’ and the events covered a wide spectrum. The big competition this year was Survivor—a competition in which machines had to survive a steep fall. Micromouse saw the Indian record being established at 17 seconds. Drishti was a competition that called upon students to develop aids for the visually challenged. Apart from this Rescue, U-Turn, Under Construction, Udaan and Power Boats were among the large set of competitions. Techfest 2005 also came up with a problem statement only for school students—Junior, so that bright and young minds can be tapped earlier. Technoholix at Techfest 2005 was a phenomenal success. On display was David Coulthard’s McLaren—the first time ever a Formula 1 racer was on display in a college fest in India. This was accompanied by a spectacular laser show that left the audience awe-struck. There was also a Humanoid Robot soccer match in which the robots performed numerous tasks to the delight of the crowds. The Sci-Tech finals were conducted with finesse and maximum technology on display in the form of LCD screens and computerized answering pads. HUB this year not only conducted on the spot events but there were lectures as well as an R&D exhibition with very interesting exhibits. Dr. Stephen Wolfram and Dr. Kasturirangan were among the speakers for the Lecture Series. Animations, User Centric Designs and Computer Security were all part of Workshops a Techfest 2005.

Techfest 2006

Techfest ’06 witnessed a sweeping change in the structure of Techfest. This was accented by the byline of the fest—"A New Beginning"—as well as a mascot (the first one ever): Manu, based on Indian mythology. The emphasis at Techfest ’06 was on technology rather than engineering. The fest was based on six themes—Artificial Intelligence (A.I), Space Exploration (Cosmos), Smart Technologies (Smart Tech), Automobile and Aviation Technology (Sixth Gear), Emerging Rural Technology (e-Rustique) and Modern Structural Engineering (CONCREaTE). This edition saw four major problem statements—Micromouse, Full Throttle, The Simple Life v 1.1 and G.R.I.P each of which had at stake $1000 as prize money. Prayaas –a competition to develop aids for the physically challenged, Innovision, iClean and Fly High were some other interesting competitions. The highlight at Techfest ’06 was the Arizona State University’s Mars Rover Exhibition which was being displayed outside USA for only the second time. Other exhibitions included the ISRO Mission Moon Exhibition, Air Force exhibition and NIF exhibition. The audience at Techfest ’06 was also treated to special displays of para—jumping and ballooning. Speakers this year included Mr. Mark Shuttleworth and Dr Amar Bose. roboTRIx, a workshop, was conducted to promote robotics and help students build a machine in just three days. Technoholix witnessed water screens, pyrotechnic and laser shows, the Sci Tech finals as well as the India premiere of Aeon Flux, a science fiction film starring Oscar winner Charlize Theron.

Techfest 2007

After the huge success of Nexus, the prequel to the national robotics challenge VOID, provided the students a platform to demonstrate their skills and a chance to get direct entry to the finals of Techfest. None were disappointed, as there was something there for everybody. From Cyborgs to Micromouse, from Tremors to Full Throttle, from exhibhitions to Technoloholix. The highlight of this year’s edition was the Royal Society Exhibhition, which was its first outside UK and the lectures by Prof John Forbes Nash and Prof Kevin Warwick introducing the masses to various realms of science and technology. The competitions that stole the lime light in this edition were, Micromouse, S.N.A.P, VOID and Full Throttle each having more than 750 USD at stake saw some nail biting finishes. Immerse—a competition to reduce the time and labor required for the immersion of Ganesh idols, Ripples, Route 0, Tremors and Interconnections were some of the other interesting competitions. The Hub served its purpose by keeping the general crowd on their feet either by quizzes or by sizzling BMX bike stunt performances. Another event which touched every persons heart especially IITians was Crossroads—a panel debate where the role of an IITian in society was discussed. Every liberating day at Techfest culminated with a mix of technology and cultural arts as Technoholix exposed us to the world of techno-juggling and sand animation bringing the crowd to their feet with amazing performances.

Techfest 2008

Techfest 2008 took the euphoria and enthusiasm for science and technology to new heights in its biggest ever edition. In 2008, Nexus was conducted at 7 centers across India namely Indore, Calicut, Jaipur, New Delhi, Pune, Surat & Mumbai and witnessed participation from more than 500 teams in all, making it a truly national event. Workshops were also held before the event at various centers to familiarize the students with the basics of robotics. The team this year took an initiative to try and address issues relating to the menace of global warming by developing problem statements that require participants to come up with solutions to address various aspects of this problem. Emphasis was also on educating participants and visitors about relevant issues via workshops and lectures. Such a lecture was delivered by Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman IPCC. Problem statements developed with this perspective included designing an energy efficient house, utilising solar energy to gain useful work etc.

Elixir, the medical technology competition series challenged the participants to come up with innovative solutions for today's healthcare problems. Similarly, events under Analogic had problem statements which required participants to combine programming and robotics to solve challenging problem statements like Micromouse(autonomous maze solver), Pixel (image processing using camera input) etc. Junkyard Wars(useful machine from junk), Jack Of All Trades(multi-faceted application of robotics) and Sci-tech Quiz(technology quiz) were other popular and fun events.

Popular and interactive lectures were delivered by Mr. Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Dr. Henry F. Schaefer and Mr. Dinesh Keskar. Also, this year saw the return of the Royal Society Exhibition from UK. Other popular exhibits included Shadow Dexterous Hand, which is the most advanced robot hand in the world and research projects from IIT Bombay. Besides, workshops on digital film making, photography, aero-modeling and robotics encouraged enthusiasm about technology in the people. Technoholix shows like Lumen (Switzerland), Pyromania (Israel) and Laser Floyd (USA) dazzled the audiences with some fancy techno-juggling, fire stunts and engrossing laser display, entertaining everyone and provided a thrilling end to each action packed day of Techfest 2008.

References

http://www.tech2.com/india/tags/TechFest/14481/0

http://www.televisionpoint.com/news2008/newsfullstory.php?id=1201152010

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1147785

http://www.iitb.ac.in/events/techfest.html

http://www.onlygizmos.com/?topic=events

www.techfest.org

External links

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