Wednesday, March 29, 2017

‘Pharma firms must comply with skill upgrade deadline’

In 2016, Drug Controller General of India set Jan. 1, 2018

The pharmaceutical industry must treat as sacrosanct the January 1, 2018 deadline issued by the Drug Controller General of India for upgrading skills of its employees, Ranjit Madan, CEO, Life Sciences Sector Skill Development Council (LSSSDC), said. The LSSSDC was set up under the auspices of the Ministry of Skill Development.
The domestic pharma sector cannot compromise on quality of its staff, said . In August 2016, the Drug Controller General of India had issued a circular stipulating the deadline of January 1, 2018.
“The developed countries have a very high rate of skill sets. As the low rate outweighs... the other factors in the economy, we cannot compromise on the same,” Mr. Madan said while speaking at the launch of a skill development project in Maharashtra.
The LSSSDC has mandated Pollux Life Science Solutions LLP to conduct broad-based skilling in the State, which begins at pharmacy undergraduate level and concludes with job specific theory and practical training of 10 prominent roles that cover 90% of the functions in the pharma sector.
The industry-ready, employable resource will not only bring down the training cost for companies by providing job-ready pharmacy graduates, but also lower unproductive lead time during initial employment period. This will help companies hire the right person matching the job profile that will lead to significant reduction in attrition rates, Pollux Life Science Managing Partner Hemant Deshpande said.
Speaking at the panel discussion, K. Bangarurajan, Deputy Drug Controller, West Zone said, “India exports USD 17 billion worth of pharmaceutical drugs and one out two medicines consumed globally is by India. “The country also produces 50,000 pharma graduates every year of which 7,000 are from Maharashtra,” he added.

Source: THE HINDU-20th March,2017

Oracle’s India pilot for start-ups goes global

Replicas now in Bristol, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Tel Aviv

When Oracle, one of the world’s biggest technology companies, wanted to set up its first start-up accelerator, it chose India’s Silicon Valley, Bengaluru. With $37 billion in annual revenue, the company introduced the initiative as a pilot programme last April and it has been a success for the organisation.
The Redwood City, California-based firm has now expanded its ‘start-up cloud accelerator’ by opening new centres across the globe in Bristol, Delhi–NCR, Mumbai, Paris, Sao Paulo, Singapore and Tel Aviv.
“Working with start-ups is a very energising endeavour and a learning experience for us,” said Sanket Atal, group vice- president of development, Oracle India, in an interview. “It is a synergistic kind of relationship that we have with them,” said Mr. Atal who led the pilot programme.
The programme is being run by members of the Oracle research and development team. It provides six months of mentoring by technical and business experts, and venture capitalists and entrepreneurs from outside the firm. The company said that it also provided technology, co-working space, access to Oracle customers, partners and investors, and free Oracle cloud credits.
Baby monitor devices
In India, the accelerator has incubated young firms with innovations ranging from sleep monitoring devices for infants to fintech companies focused on alternative payment mechanism. Among them is Ray IoT Solutions which has developed a mobile-based sleep monitoring device to detect infant healthcare dysfunctions using artificial intelligence.
The non-contact baby monitor tracks sleeping and breathing activity and analyses and relays a host of information about the baby’s health. Another firm initCodes specialises in fintech innovation, data protection and futuristic commerce. It is building a unified intelligence platform for digital transactions using the cloud, blockchain technology and predictive analytics.
NiYO Solutions, one of the companies selected early for the Oracle accelerator programme, said that the success of a start-up depended more on the execution than on the product.
“The moment you go to a customer and talk about your product coming out of the Oracle accelerator, a certain respect comes out (from them) automatically,” said Vinay Bagri, co-founder of NiYO Solutions, a fintech firm focused on payroll and benefits management for employees working at different companies.
The company said that it bagged about 70 customers including Hero Group and Cafe Coffee Day within six months of joining the programme. It also got funded by a VC firm within a month of entering the accelerator.
Oracle’s rivals such as Microsoft, SAP and Amazon have been engaging with young firms for a couple of years. But Oracle said this was the right time to reach out to the “start-up ecosystem”.India. “I don’t see this as competition. What attracts start-ups to us is that Oracle technologies are foundations of the most successful companies. It is a very aspirational thing,” said Mr. Atal.

Source: THE HINDU- 20th March,2017

Indian modern art in retrospect

An ongoing exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art showcases 128 years of the Bombay Art Society’s journey

A unique ongoing exhibition brings together the works of legendary painters and sculptors under one roof. The Bombay Art Society (1888-2016): History and Voyage features art from Raja Ravi Varma, JP Ganguly, AX Trinidade and modernists such as Amrita Sher-Gil, SH Raza and VS Gaitonde. The showcase chronicles the 128-year-old journey of the Bombay Art Society (BAS), India’s oldest art institute, which was founded in 1888 to promote art in the subcontinent.
Curated by noted painter and historian Suhas Bahulkar – also chairperson of NGMA – History and Voyage showcases BAS’s glorious past through paintings and sculptures which won gold medals and Governor’s Prizes at the exhibitions organised by the institute. A book bearing the exhibition’s title, authored by Bahulkar, has also been launched last month.
The BAS has been synonymous with their highly acclaimed annual art exhibitions that have attracted some of the best talent in the country, helping promote fine art. Since its inception, BAS has held 124 exhibitions and encouraged scores of artists, who have achieved excellence and recognition in their career. History and Voyage is a retrospective of all these prize-winning works that takes patrons through the evolution of modern Indian art. It comprises numerous styles, ranging from portraiture, landscapes, still-life, paintings on mythological, historical and social themes, oil on canvas, water colour artworks, mixed media and sculptures.
The BAS published its first journal titled ‘A Brief Historical Sketch of the Bombay Art Society’ 22 years after it was first set-up with special reference to the period between 1906 and 1910. This was the earliest available document that defined the institute’s purpose which was to bridge the gap between artists and patrons. In addition to this journal, other books published by BAS over the years are also being displayed at the exhibition.
“It was a challenging task to explore and document this long voyage in a short span of time, to draw appropriate conclusions from scant reference resources and put up this exhibition, along with writing and publishing it in a book,” says curator Bahulkar. “I have been a witness to the movement of the Bombay Art Society since my student days in the ’70s. The encouragement offered through the various awards of the society to all painters and sculptors has been of great significance to me.”
According to Shivaprasad M. Khened, director of NGMA, it was natural for the Mumbai-based gallery to host such an exhibition as it has been closely associated with BAS through Sir Cowasji Jehangir, who made a profound impact on the art scene in India. “The NGMA helps people to look at the works of modern art with understanding and knowledge and the BAS has a similar objective of encouraging art, especially among amateurs, and for educating people to appreciate it,” says director. “So, this event is the coming together of two like-minded institutions for who art is central to their existence.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

‘Old, new architecture should co-exist for a city’s survival’

Architects on the challenge of creating urban spaces while conserving old buildings


Leila Araghian, the acclaimed Iranian architect, sounded excited to share the details of the civil society movement that stopped the demolition of a Gio Ponti villa in northern Tehran last year. Built in the '60s, Villa Namazee, typically an art deco, designed by Giovanni Ponti — a major post-war artist-architect of Europe — is one of the few buildings to survive in Iran or even Europe. The plan to demolish Villa Namazee to construct a 20-storey hotel outraged Tehran’s civil society, especially the architects.
“There were protests and the work was stopped but I’m not sure for how long,” said Ms Araghian, the designer-architect of Iran’s largest pedestrian bridge, Tabiat. Ms. Araghian, who created her own style and brand, recently visited Kolkata to attend an architects’ conference organised by CREDAI, the apex body of real estate developers. Creating new urban living spaces while conserving old buildings and bridges is a challenge, she said.
Saving small houses
“It is more difficult to save the small houses, nondescript public buildings which do not have a glorious history. We have mosques and bridges which are very valuable but the rest are also contributing to our history,” Ms. Araghian told The Hindu. The crisis – to conserve the old models while constructing new ones – is universal, she said.
The crisis is never as severe anywhere as in Kolkata, where Villa Namazees of the city are making way to gigantic concrete cubes, called residential apartment blocks. But then, can Kolkata with its investment-famished identity afford to deny growth to its only buoyant sector – the real estate. Perhaps not; and perhaps that made the MP Sugata Bose to argue that he is “wholly in favour of new buildings” in the city.
In the same breath, however, he also added that he is "simply adamantly against putting down old heritage structures; needlessly destroying the architecture of old neighbourhood,” and cited the example of the 1877 Trinity Church of Boston which is “coexisting” with the 60-storyed residential building in the neighbourhood, John Hancock Tower, built exactly 100 years after the Trinity Church.
Kolkata’s Mayor stubbornly backs demolition of the old structures citing overcrowding of metro cities. In fact, even the members of CREDAI, who hosted the conference, believe that the “good living in the gated housing” is all about constructing taller skyscrapers.
Problem of residences
“These discussions are good; but how does a city provide residential quarters to the growing middle class without filling up the empty spaces, parks and water bodies?” asks a CREDAI member-cum-real estate developer, on condition of anonymity.
Perhaps similar questions inspired Giambattista Nolli, the 18th century Italian architect, to design a city plan of Rome. The design – referred to later as Nolli Plan was used till the late 20th century for any planning of Rome – is an amazing work of utility-art, said George Ferguson, an architect-entrepreneur and first elected Mayor of Bristol.
“The Nolli Plan does two things – it looks at the public spaces inside the buildings, while [providing] space for the public to walk around outside; wish we could all have our cities planned like that… our focus should be on ‘slow architecture’, created organically, as against the race of having the tallest building,” Mr Ferguson said. The high rises– however high – would remain "the highest for a short time”, he said.
“Every new building in every city would go but what remains is the plan– like Nolli. Great places are made up of extraordinarily complex plans which will remain beyond the life of the buildings… our danger [is] while simplifying such plans we are making boring places,” Ferguson argued.
Great places are made up of very complex plans. The danger is that by simplifying them, we end up with boring places
George Ferguson
Architect entrepreneur

Move to get world heritage status for Sankaram

ASI also seeks to include Salihundam, Lepakshi, Nagarjunakonda museum in proposal to Unesco

The Buddhist Heritage sites at Salihundam (Srikakulam district) and Sankaram near Anakapalle in Visakhapatnam district, in addition to Lepakshi (Anantapur district) and the Nagarjunakonda International Museum (Guntur district) are likely to find a place in the list of Unesco World Heritage Sites.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), New Delhi, sought a proposal from its Hyderabad unit on March 17, for sending it to the Unesco World Heritage Centre for tentative listing.
On March 3, national secretary of All India Panchayat Parishad, New Delhi, and chairman of Amaravathi Development Authority, Andhra Pradesh, J. Veeranjaneyulu, wrote to the Prime Minister seeking inclusion of these sites in the world list.
Interesting feature
Sankaram, also known as Bojjannakonda, was excavated under the aegis of Alexander Rim in 1906. A gold coin belonging to the Samudragupta period, copper coins of the Chalukya king, Kubja Vishnu Vardhan, coins of Andhra Satavahanas and pottery were discovered at the site.
An interesting aspect of the Bojjannakonda finds is that they feature all the three phases of Buddhism: Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. A stairway leads to a large double-storeyed cave on a hill. The rectangular cave has a doorway and is flanked by ‘dwarapalakas' on either side.
There is a rock-cut stupa, standing on a square platform, at the centre of the cave. A series of rock-cut caves and monolithic structures standing on rock platforms are seen on the northern side of the hill.
The upper cave has a rectangular doorway, flanked by figures of the Buddha on either side. The imposing figures of the Buddha in a seated meditative posture and the stupa are the main attractions for tourists at Bojjannakonda.
To the west of Bojjannakonda is another hillock, Lingalakonda or Lingalametta, where a number of monolithic and structural stupas can be seen. “A Dwarapalaka with a ‘kapala mala’ around his neck and a tummy (‘bojja’ in Telugu) like Lord Ganesha, was wrongly identified as Ganesha, and hence the site acquired the name ‘Bojjannakonda’. Dwarapalas like this can be seen at Buddhist sites in Indonesia,” says Assistant Director of Archaeology and Museums K. Chitti Babu.
“The caves at Bojjannakonda and those in Takshasila are similar. The word ‘Sangrama’ was in use at Takshasila but was never used in Andhra Pradesh. These two features suggest that Bojjannakonda was influenced by Buddhist practices in northern India,” he says.
“These sites deserve to be included in the World Heritage List and it would be matter of pride for A.P. and India. But, the Unesco norms are very stringent and I hope that they fulfil the same,” says a member of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Edward Paul.

Canadian artist Steven Spazuk uses flame of candle or torch to create work : message conveyed

Fifteen years ago, Canadian visual artist Steven Spazuk had a dream. It was a vision of black and white landscape painting, and he knew intuitively that it was done with fire. He has since worked towards mastering an unusual technique called fumage wherein he uses the flame of a candle, a Zippo windproof lighter, or a torch as a pencil. He sculpts the carbon residue on the canvas with regular paintbrushes, specially designed wire brushes, and feathers of birds to give form to human figures and birds.
Spazuk's dalliance with the flame has earned him the moniker ‘The Fire Artist' even as his work continues to blaze a trail on the internet. The lighter manufacturer has now teamed up with the maverick artist by releasing a YouTube video on February 22 that throws light on his unusual creative process.
Spazuk's technique hinges on timing and dexterity. “One has to be quick. If the flame stays too long on a spot, the canvas will catch fire. The trick is to keep the paper at certain angles and maintain the right distance between the flame and the paper,” says the Montreal-based artist from London who is holding an exhibition of his paintings in York.
He holds the Zippo lighter in his right hand while deftly manoeuvring the paper with his left. The angles are crucial to get the desired marks and shapes. Spazuk sometimes does pencil sketches on paper before “attacking it with a flame”. He is fascinated by the human body. “Bodies in a perpetual metamorphosis became the language through which I expressed my thoughts on the human condition.” However, in the last few years, he has shifted focus to the environment. “I have been doing birds in recent times. The winged creatures for me are a symbol of the fragility of nature. Birds are dying all over the world. I am trying to raise awareness about environmental degradation, the most visible symbol of which is their declining population,” says the artist.
He makes a powerful artistic statement by using feathers to scratch off the delicate residual black soot on the paper. “That way, I am using actual feathers to create imprints of feathers.” He feels that by using carbon residue and actual feathers, he is drawing attention to the disastrous effects of carbon footprint.
Spazuk is continually innovating in his pursuit of artistic excellence. Earlier, he had devised a special brush with strands of his wife's hair while making her portrait. However, the world took note of his genius only four years ago, thanks to social media. “It's only recently that my creations have been internationally feted. Some of my work has been filmed and those films went viral and it generated a lot of response,” says the artist, who has been drawing since he was a child because he was painfully shy. He dabbled in acrylic and mixed media for a long time before discovering his true calling in the flame.
“I have been a professional artist for the last 15 years, but it is only in the last five years that the sale of my paintings has picked up,” says Spazuk, who was an art director with an advertising agency. His art has travelled to Norway, Japan, the US, Mexico, and Britain. Spazuk has no regrets for not being able to win any major awards till date. He attributes it to the very nature of art, which is essentially subjective.
He is now contemplating making tutorial videos for the web so that people interested in the art form can learn the craft.

Source:DNA-20th March,2017

Internships may soon be a must for technical degrees

AICTE effort to make students more industry-ready

Technical education institutions in India will soon have internships as a mandatory requirement for the award of degrees.
The All-India Council for Technical Education — the regulator for maintaining norms and standards in technical education — has set the ball rolling to make internships a mandatory part of technical education in the country.
“For a beginning, we are asking institutions providing technical education to arrange for internships for 75% of their students. We will also help by trying to get industry bodies and MSMEs on board for this. The institutions can then contact these bodies to facilitate internships,” said a senior official of the AICTE who did not wish to be named. “Once we get this process streamlined, we will in about three years make internships a mandatory requirement for the award of degrees.”
In other words, while the onus would first be on the technical educational institutions to put in place systemic arrangements to facilitate internships, it would soon transform into a regime where the onus would also be on the students to intern somewhere to become eligible for the degree. “The final vision is to ensure that those who pass out have interned and thus have experience of industry pace and requirements,” an official said.

Vast purview

The purview of the AICTE is vast: it covers programmes of technical education, including training and research, in engineering, technology, architecture, town planning, management, pharmacy, applied arts and crafts, hotel management and catering technology, etc.
The Ministry of Human Resource Development – under which the AICTE is an autonomous institution – has also been in the loop regarding this change.
Internships, it is felt, would make the students more industry-ready, providing a set of hands-on skills and experience of the work environment in the industry to complement their academic and theoretical insights into their discipline.

Teen scientist bags $2,50,000 prize

Indrani Das worked on treating neurodegenerative disease and brain injury

Indian-American teenager Indrani Das won the top prize of $2,50,000 (Rs. 1.63 crore) in the Regeneron Science Talent Search competition in the U.S. for her research on treating brain injury and disease.
Ms. Das is a 17-year-old student living in New Jersey. Her work looked at boosting the survival rate of neurons. A contributor to neuron death is astrogliosis, a condition that occurs when cells called astrocytes react to injury by growing, dividing and reducing their uptake of glutamate, which in excess is toxic to neurons.
In a laboratory model, she showed that exosomes isolated from astrocytes transfected with microRNA-124a both improved astrocyte uptake of glutamate and increased neuron survival.
Another Indian-American teen, Arjun Ramani, took the third place, which carries a prize of $1,50,000, for his project on networks using mathematical field of graph theory and computer programming.
The second prize of $1,75,000 was bagged by Aaron Yeiser for his development of a mathematical method for solving partial differential equations on complicated geometries.
The talent search, nicknamed the ‘Junior Nobel Prize’, is the oldest U.S. science competition for students. It is organised by the Society for Science and the Public in association with medical firm Regeneron.
Indian-Americans shine
Of the 40 finalists of the science talent search, 13 were Indian-Americans.
Archana Verma took the fifth place award of $90,000 for research that could lead to the development of windows that could produce solar power.
Prathik Naidu ranked seventh place ($70,000) for a software to study human genomes and cancer, and Vrinda Madan got the ninth place award of $50,000 for her study of medications for malaria.
Society for Science the Public President Maya Ajmera said the finalists “are all poised to become our future scientific leaders”. More that 1,700 students took part in the contest.

Source: THE HINDU-17th March,2017

12-yr-old invents robot-operated vacuum

As kids and probably even as adults, we have all at some point been curious enough to dismantle electronic devices to understand its mechanics. While some of us might have been reprimanded for it, a parent in Gurugram district of Haryana nurtured their 12-year-old son, Aryan Srivastava's curiosity, who went on to create a battery-operated robot, Vaccumate, for cleaning floors.
The idea to create this robot dawned upon him a year ago when Aryan was preparing for Class 6 exams and needed his mother's help, who was then busy arguing with their maid. At that point, Aryan wished there was a robot to do the household chores. Although this idea developed over a year, it wasn't the first time Aryan was creating something. “As a child he was very fond of creating stuff with things that he could lay his hands on at home. Initially it was in the form of craft as shown on the television show Art Attack but soon it evolved into pulling apart his toys, cars and other electronic items like calculators. We realised his interest for machines. Even today, when we want to dispose a mobile phone, he is more than happy to take it,” says his mother Deepti Srivastava, an engineer who took up teaching as visiting faculty in a university in Haryana to ensure her presence around Aryan. To nurture Aryan's interest, his father Anirudh Srivastava, an engineer and an MBA graduate, suggested Aryan to join his school's robotics group when he was in Class 4. In a few months, Aryan realised that he enjoyed creating things and started participating in inter-school robotics competitions. His curiosity was fuelled with an introduction to arduino, a micro-controller board that is similar to a processor in functioning and works as a programme, a year later by his father. “He introduced me and told me about arduino in brief. I was on a vacation when I thought of learning more about it and started browsing videos on arduino and coding lessons,” says Aryan. The idea of a vacuum cleaner that can be operated by a robot underwent several stages of improvisation, after he was enrolled in a Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) programme in 2016, and was asked to devise a business model. “That was when I thought of reworking on it and taking it forward as a business idea,” adds Aryan. His then wishful thinking turned into a business model that earned him a funding of Rs 10,000 from the YEA investor panel last month. Explaining the making, Aryan shows various components that went into creating this device, “For the robot part, I have used an arduino for programming, two motors for functioning, one castor for fluid movement, an object avoidance sensor and a battery. For the vacuum, I have used the lower portion of a bottle with holes in it for passage of air, a lid, a pipe and a fan working in reverse direction to suck the dust particles.” He also points out that the usage of batteries is to avoid dependency on electricity.
“In the prototype, the suction and movement of the robot doesn't function together as the movement is faster at the moment,” adds Aryan and ensures it to be aligned in the final product that will reach the users.

The chess player with all the right moves

Harika Dronavalli was around six years old when her father brought home a chess set. It was meant for her older sister who, her father felt, needed to learn patience. But it was Dronavalli who took to the game instantly. Her parents enrolled her in a class where she could learn the techniques of the game, and within a year, Dronavalli was participating in the National U-9 Chess Championship. “I wasn't a really good player, but I performed well and everyone was impressed. On the last day of the tournament, I saw that trophy and that became my motivation. Next year, I participated again in the championship and won it,” says Dronavalli, just back from Tehran where she won bronze in the 2017 Women's World Chess Championship. It's the 26-year-old Guntur-based player's third bronze at the championships, the previous two coming in 2012 and 2015. Dronavalli also won the Arjuna Award, India's highest award for sportspersons, in 2007 when she was only 17.
But it was that first win, when she was just seven years old, that whetted her interest in chess. “Initially, it was the appreciation that became the driving force. But now, chess has become the lens through which I see life,” she says.
This clarity, the decision to focus entirely on chess came early, for Dronavalli didn't study beyond school. “I was a professional chess player at nine, and there was no confusion about the future. I was certain of making it my profession and so decided to focus on it,” says Dronavalli. She currently ranks eighth in the world among women players and number two in India.
If there's one person she credits for her sterling performances, it's her grandmother, who accompanies her to all the important tournaments. Long and diligent training - six to seven hours every day - goes into Dronavalli's consistent performances. Then there are daily work-out sessions and badminton. In her down time, Dronavalli enjoys watching movies, sitcoms, and reading comics.
Victory without any cheer Dronavalli says she was aiming for gold in Tehran but lost to China's Tan Zhongyi, ranked far lower in the FIDE ratings, in the Armageddon tie-break (in which both players are given limited time to move their pieces).
“It took me some time [to get over it] but now I am fine and trying to cherish what I have got. It isn't easy to reach the semi-finals in back-to-back championships. My dream has always been to get gold. And since I am aiming for it, I will get it soon,” she says.
Neither does the lack of appreciation for her achievements - there was no crowd or chess federation officials to greet Dronavalli when she came back - worry her. This drew huge criticism, but Dronavalli plays it down saying, “I am not disappointed; I am used to it. People aren't aware, but things are changing and one day, it will bring a visible change.” Dronavalli's thinking about her next tournament - the Sharjah International Open starting on March 22, 2017.

Source: DNA-23rd March,2017

Maharashtra Institute of Technology, IBM unveil robot

New Delhi: The students of Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT) Pune and technology giant IBM have developed a robot, Chintu, which would assist senior citizens in their everyday tasks. Chintu, under 2-ft tall robot, was developed after MIT Pune received a grant of Rs 10 lakh last year from IBM.
It is powered by the US-based company's cognitive assistant, IBM Watson. Chintu can move his hands and read books to an audience. “Drawing from Watson's domain knowledge, Chintu will assist senior citizens in conducting everyday tasks such as reading the newspaper book and generate reminders on their daily medication,” said Professor and Head of Computer Engineering Department at MIT Pune, Vrushali Kulkarni.
She added that the students have been working on the project for the past few months. While Chintu is still a few years from becoming mainstream, the students will continue to work on him to add functionalities.
“This has also opened up a new and exciting research avenue for our students. Robotics, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing are interesting fields of research today and our students are getting first hand experience of working in these fields,” she said.
Mezjan Dallas, University Relations Leader at IBM India said the project is a great example of co-creation. 

 Source: DNA-23rd March,2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

KJ Somaiya engg college ranks ninth at the National Robotics Contest

Mumbai: At the National Robotics Contest held on March 3 and 4, KJ Somaiya Institute of Engineering and Information Technology (KJSIEIT) ranked ninth amongst 113 teams from across the country. Fourteen students worked on various aspects of building the Robot - Mechanical, Electronics and Programming. The Mechanical team created and designed the structure of bot such as the throwing mechanism, projectile mechanism, and chassis of bots. The Electronics team, and the programming team worked on the control of mechanical structure, and providing brain to the entire system. This year's challenge at the contest was to create and manoeuvre a bot to knock out a beach ball located on a table and then land a disc on seven tables located at different distances with varying heights on the table.

Student team leader Pradeepkumar Choudhary said, “My journey with RoboCon KJSIEIT started in 2014, and since then I have been an integral part of a team which has developed my technical and managerial skills to a great extent. Here, I learnt to cope with working and delivering on a problem statement in a given time span. Students working in the team have extra edge over their colleagues because apart from technical knowledge they develop skills of working in teams.” On the occasion, Principal, Dr Suresh Ukrande said, “Robocon is a national level robot competition that serves an excellent platform for young engineers and their mentors to innovate and excel in creative thinking in the field of Robotics. It is a feeling of great pride to see our students work so hard. Such a remarkable achievement is only possible through students' hard work and toil. The project also promoted leadership and problem-solving skills as well as engineering and business skills throughout the entire process of designing and building.” The team demonstrated its expertise with their ability to make the bot economical as well as with good aesthetics. They created a robust design that did not need repairs or maintenance during the five-day event. The electronic circuits were designed with minimum wiring and with a single printed circuit board.

Source:DNA-17th March,2017

Google Maps will now take you into an active volcano

Google Maps constantly finds ways to make our lives simpler, allowing us to find every location on the surface of the Earth. But now, the mapping tool can take us underground, right inside of an active volcano. Google stated in a blog that it is using its 360-degree Google Street View cameras to help us explore the beauty of Vanuatu, a collection of 80 tiny islands. “We invite you to join us on a journey to the edge of one of the largest boiling lava lakes in the world on the Vanuatuan island of Ambrym,” the blog stated.

The company sent two explorers, George Mackley and Chris Horsly, to climb into the crater and capture the footage. They repelled 400 metres into the Marum crater with a Street View Trekker collecting 360-degree imagery of the journey down to the molten lava lake, which is roughly the size of two football fields. You can move in multiple directions in the caldera, just like you can in Google Street View. Horsly stated that he hoped that by putting this place on the map, people will realise what a beautiful world we live in.

Source:DNA-17th March,2017

blasting off

SpaceX launches communications satellite into orbit
SpaceX successfully launched a communications satellite into space from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. The company's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 2 am carrying the EchoStar XXIII, a commercial communications satellite for EchoStar Corporation. The satellite will be place in orbit more than 35,000 kilometres above the earth and provide telecommunications service to Brazil, SpaceX said.
However SpaceX said it will not attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage after launch “due to mission requirements.” The mission took off from NASA's historic launchpad 39A, the origin of the pioneering US spaceflights that took astronauts to the Moon in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the space shuttle missions that ran from 1981 to 2011.
SpaceX, founded and led by billionaire Elon Musk, is emerging as a leader of the modern commercial space industry after becoming the first to send a private cargo carrier to the International Space Station in 2010.
The California-based company has endured two costly disasters in the past two years - a launchpad blast that destroyed a rocket and its satellite payload in September, and a June 2015 explosion after liftoff that obliterated a Dragon cargo ship packed with provisions bound for the space station. -

Source:DNA-17th March,2017

You can eat this robot!

This tiny robot is made out of gelatin which can crawl inside your intestinal tract and deliver medicine
Edible robots are on the way. Researchers from Intelligent Systems Laboratory at Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland are working on a tiny edible and digestible robot, made out of gelatin, which can crawl inside your intestinal tract and deliver medicine.

These robot actuators are described as components in machines that are responsible for movement. But unlike metal parts, these actuators are made out of edible gelatin that are filled with air or fluid or react to chemicals, which cause them to move. Combining these actuators with other advancements in edible electronics - batteries that can safely pass through a digestive tract or chips and cameras that are already on the market that can be ingested - could one day make for a fully edible robot, researchers told Recode. These robots will prove to be beneficial as they are capable of moving inside a patient's body to deliver medicine. They are roughly three to five centimetres in length. Two of these actuators put together could create a gripper. These actuators could also be used in food transportation where the robot does not require any additional payload because the robot is in fact, the food. Christopher Bettinger, a biomedical engineering and materials science professor at Carnegie Mellon, told Recode, “The wind in the sails that will take anything [in edible electronics] forward is identifying the exact problem first and designing solutions to tackle that problem. So, maybe the pieces are there, but it's kind of up to the private sector to synthesise them to actually make products.” The gelatin-based actuator is still in early stages of development. However, researchers are teaming up with a hospitality school named École hôtelière de Lausanne to develop these tasty robots!

Source:DNA-17th March,2017

Learning English and Mathematics the mGuru way

Founded by Adam Khorakiwala, mGuru provides an interactive learning experience for children, with the aim of accelerating literacy and numeracy skills
Hemant Padalkar/DNA At 22, most of my friends had taken up internships or were job-hopping to figure out what worked best for them. I, however, had no clue what I wanted to do. And then, there are those like Adam Khorakiwala, who at that age had already interned with the World Bank, Palantir, and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIADI). He had also founded mGuru, a mobile learning app aimed at enhancing basic literacy and numeracy skills of K-5 students.

A Stanford University graduate with a major in Public Policy and a minor in Computer Science, Khorakiwala was always interested in “using technology to solve social problems”. While reading the 2014 Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) by Pratham, he realised that learning for the average person is not just poor, but criminally bad. “One out of two kids in Class 5, still reads and does Math at Class 2 level or less. At the same time, I knew that a smartphone could be bought for Rs 2,000 and in the next 3-5 years every family, whether they live in a penthouse in Lower Parel or a slum, will own a smartphone. It made no sense that kids would know so little, while their families have the world's information in their pockets,” shares the 23-year-old, who was born in Virginia, lived in Manila till age 7, and then grew up in Mumbai until he moved to the US in 2011 to study.
With a scalable solution that could ultimately have an impact on those numbers in his mind, Khorakiwala returned to India after graduating in 2015. “For almost two months, I spent time with NGOs and in BMC schools, where I interviewed parents, students, teachers and NGO leaders to understand their problems, experiences and perspectives,” shares the Lower Parel-resident, who has worked on a range of things, including human rights, development and anti poverty.

From phonics to vocabulary, and grammar to comprehension, mGuru covers basic English skills through interactive games, stories and activities that are “built in-house in collaboration with a few NGO partners like LeapForWord and the Pratham English team. mGuru has around 60 stories, sourced through Pratham, to which we've added audio, questions and vocabulary. We have curated videos from the best sources on YouTube,” says Khorakiwala. New users go through a quick assessment that will roughly determine their level and unlock activities accordingly. Kids then go through levels and ‘worlds' that correspond to different concepts.
“When I interviewed parents in slums around Mumbai, I could not find a primary-school student, who did not go to private tuition. If they're willing to spend Rs 300-700 a month on tuitions, maybe they'll pay Rs 40 a month for an app. During our interviews, every parent said that English and Math are the most important subjects, hence the focus on these two,” says Khorakiwala, who started working on the app at the end of 2015. The final Math version of the app should be out in about three months.

The mGuru team of five tested the prototype of the app with around 100 Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation school students in Class 3 and 4. They spent an hour with them every Monday and Tuesday; while the kids had a go on the app using mGuru's devices, the team observed what the kids understood and figured out what made sense. “Students did not know what to do next, or what to press. The app should have been obvious enough from a design perspective for those things to be clear. Aside from ease of use, the other main challenge was stickiness, so we started working with a design firm to make the app colourful, bright, lively and engaging; we added daily notifications and tasks, SMS report cards for the parents, the mascot-Motu the monkey, and the concept of earning and using mangoes and stars to unlock stories and videos,” says Khorakiwala, who is inspired by his parents, Steve Jobs, Barack Obama and several other leaders in technology and politics. He loves food, sports, travel, andreading up on politics, technology and policy.

Currently bootstrapped with funding, mGuru plans to use the money it won this year for NASSCOM's Social Innovation Prize in Primary and Secondary Education. Used by approximately 30, 000 kids, the app has been available for download on Android phones, since August 2016. While you can download the app for free, “unlimited usage of it falls behind a paywall”. It works without internet (except for videos), and has language options for Hindi, Marathi, Bengali and Gujarati.

Source:DNA-22nd March,2017