Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Where interns gather - Interntheory is a meeting place for over 2.5 lakh students across the country looking to be interns and over 7,000 companies that want to take them on board

Mumbai: Vamil Sangoi (24), an engineer from D.J. Sanghvi College of Engineering, Mumbai, knows how difficult it is for students taking professional courses to land good internships.
In 2012, Mr. Sangoi, then 19, couldn’t find an internship for over a year. Most of his friends faced the same issue. This got him thinking about starting a portal as one-stop solution for all internship-related issues.
He soon teamed up with three of his friends from his institute, Dhruvi Dharia, Anshini Jhaveri and Jugal Choksi, and in 2014, started Within four months, nearly 1,500 students from various streams and 300 companies in Mumbai registered on the website. “Students found the website helpful,” says Mr. Sangoi. This prompted them to make it more exhaustive and to enrol students from other cities.
In 2015, the four friends completed their engineering course, but instead of looking for a job, decided to hunt for investors for their venture. “While all our classmates where appearing for campus placements, we were preparing for seed funding,” says Ms. Dharia. They closed their first investor pitch in 2015 and got Rs. 72 lakh against equity. Full-fledged operations took off in June 2015. The four later revamped the website and launched in the beginning of 2016.
The portal has more than 2.5 lakh students from around 55 cities in the country offering to be interns in more than 40 professional fields. Over 7,000 companies post on the site. “We cater to all the recruitment needs of companies, screening talented interns across several fields, making the entire process as hassle-free as possible for students and companies,” says Mr. Choksi. So far, more than 50,000 students have been shortlisted for internships across the country.
There have been challenges throughout, says Mr. Sangoi. “India is still far from being internship-friendly as most students do not feel the need to do an internship. They do it only because it is mandatory in a few colleges or courses. A majority of courses across the country don’t accommodate internships.”
Further, many companies were not able to accept the ideology of internships, which is to structure internship programmes in such a way so as to use the students as a long-term employee pool. Interns bring in fresh ideas but most companies either don’t hire them or don’t value and nurture them. Most of them just want to hire people with experience, and don’t wish to pay interns. “Apart from that, we found that many students lacked the motivation to intern somewhere,” says Mr. Sangoi. To make students understand the importance of internships, they conducted workshops in various colleges. “We also made it a point to maintain good relationships with placement cells of as many colleges as possible,” says Mr. Choksi.
For the convenience of students, the process has been made hassle-free. All they have to do is register on the website, free of cost, where they can mention their preferences, hobbies and qualifications. “This makes it easier for companies that register on the portal and post internships,” says Ms. Jhaveri. The companies later review applications from students interested in interning with them.
Online courses
Gradually, they realised that there was a gap between companies’ needs and educational courses. “Digital marketing is becoming huge but students don’t know enough about it. Keeping that in mind we launched online courses six months ago,” says Ms. Dharia.
The startup runs three courses and plans to launch two more by the year-end. They have a panel of experts who provide content, monitor progress and help students with any difficulty.
In addition, interntheory helps companies run innovative campaigns directed at the youth. Further, as the startup has a pool of experienced students, it provides companies with fresh graduates who have work experience.
“We have been running offline but by the end of 2017, plan to launch an innovative online hiring solution which will reduce hiring costs by up to four times,” says Mr. Sangoi. This can be achieved by allowing companies to post vacancies for free, only charging a nominal fee for shortlisting candidates.
Stuti Shah (20), who is pursuing her second year BMS from Lala Lajpatrai College, Worli found interntheory useful while searching for an internship. Immediately after uploading her CV she got an opportunity to intern with CNN for two months. She plans to take more internship programmes through this portal.
P.B. Lalranchinna, Human Capital Developer, Leadership Development, Viacom 18 finds the portal efficient and effective in fulfilling the company’s recruitment needs. The company has been hiring interns through interntheory for over a year.
The goal is to facilitate internships to over a million students in the next three years and provide a high level of industry-based
training to students before they apply for internships. Says Mr. Sangoi, “We aim to make the hiring process quick and seamless.”

Source: THE HINDU-12th October,2017

Monday, October 09, 2017

How IITs Found a Place in the Sun

A clutch of professors at the elite technology institutes are finding new applications for solar energy and making existing ones more efficient
The IIT campus was not ready when Saroj Nayak moved to Bhubaneswar from the US in 2012. The condensed matter physicist had been a professor at Renssealer Polytechnic when IIT Bhubaneswar made him a job offer.
Nayak worked for some time from an old government building without any power backup, struggling with the heat and frequent power cuts. His response? A creation to harness this heat.
Dissatisfied with the existing UPS systems, Nayak invented one that ran on solar power, got a patent and founded a company called Karma. He and his colleagues also took electricity to Odisha's villages, all the while being closely watched by the Naxalites in the hills.
During these trips, Nayak discovered that small farmers had no solar pumps either. Since larger pumps are not economical for small holdings, he developed a smaller solar-powered version that was ideal for 90% of the farmers in Odisha.
Today, Nayak is not alone. Although solar energy installations have been in the country for over two decades, few companies were practising serious technical innovation. This is changing now, as researchers in good institutions are developing ways of improving efficiencies and finding new applications for solar. Specifically, some IIT professors have used their expertise to bring significant energy efficiencies in solar installations, while creating new markets as well.
Bhubaneswar-based Karma created a market for solar pumps that did not exist before. At IIT Madras, electrical engineering professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala developed an inverter-less solar system -also with significant energy and cost savings.
At IIT Hyderabad, aerospace engineering professor Nishant Dongari designed a one-stop shop solution in solar energy and formed a startup called PuREnergy .He says, “Even in the worst-case scenario, we would like life to go on as usual.“
Heavy rains caused power outages in Hyderabad this week, but life seems to have gone as usual for PuREnergy installations in the city.
In his day job at IIT Hyderabad, Dongari studies the dynamics of the upper atmosphere, a skill that is useful around the world for calculating the path of rockets and missiles, not to speak of complicated trajectories for anti-ballistic missiles.Dongari puts his skills to good use, but he had been eyeing the solar energy market since he was a student at IIT Bombay . As he saw it, most solar energy installations were either off-grid or connected to the grid. He wanted to create a hybrid solution optimised for any situation.
In its short existence of a year and a half, PuREnergy has 100 small and medium installations and four large ones. The small installations include houses and apartments, while large installations are inside companies.
Natco Pharma in Hyderabad is working towards shifting completely to renewable energy and has an installation of 2.5 mw in Hyderabad, part of which was executed by PuREnergy. “Their design brought down the structural costs,“ says PSRK Prasad, executive director, engineering services, Natco. Total cost also came down from `4.5 crore to `4 crore.
Such a decrease in costs would be the first impact of improved efficiencies. In such cases, all capital investments would be recovered in less than five years, making solar energy attractive. Advanced technology and design improves quality, brings down operational expenses, reduces need for land and brings the ability to address problems quickly .
Ease of monitoring would be an added advantage, as both PuREnergy and IIT Madras startup Cygni Energy do remote monitoring of solar installations. Solar installations, especially those in remote areas, are always in danger of slow decay due to lack of maintenance.
The idea for Cygni, based in Hyderabad but a startup from IIT Madras, began when Ashok Jhunjhunwala and a few others tested the energy losses in existing solar systems. They found almost all installations are inefficient, with their effi ciency ­ from generation to load ­ ranging from 20% to 65%. The efficiency was especially poor in low-power systems, mostly because of poor-quality inverters.
Jhunjhunwala and his team then established a startup with Venkat Rajaraman, an entrepreneur based in Hyderabad. IIT Madras and Cygni made a completely new design aimed at high efficiencies. Their main innovation was to do away with the inverter in a solar energy system.
Solar cells produce direct current (DC), which is then converted to alternating current (AC) for an application. If a battery is involved, the AC is converted back to DC for charging and then converted again to AC for running devices. In some current applications such as laptops and LED lighting, the AC is once again converted to DC by the device.
The system loses energy through multiple conversions, especially if the inverters are of poor quality. In the Cygni system, current from the solar cells goes directly to devices that can take a DC input. Since LED bulbs, fans, television sets and mobile chargers can all take DC input or be tweaked to do so, the inverter-less system can be used with all these devices. Cygni was established at the end of 2014 and got its first customer in January 2015.So far, it has done 24,000 installations, nearly half in Rajasthan and Bihar. Most them are through government support, either at the Centre or state. All the installations are being monitored from a network operating centre in Hyderabad.“Solar installations stop working after some time,“ says Rajaraman, CEO, Cygni Energy , “because there is no one to monitor them in remote locations.“
Remote monitoring is thus a game changer for the industry , and is now being practised by few other companies as well.
Government and industry officials regard the solar pump as a game-changer as well and not just for the farmers. “A solar pump is clean and reduces the cost of power,“ says Vinay Rustagi, managing director of Bridge To India, a solar energy market research company. “And a pump can be used for other purposes as well.“
Officials from the ministry of new and renewable energy (MNRE) estimate that if half the diesel pumps in the country are replaced by solar pumps, it would give the banks a loan opportunity of `1 lakh crore.
Back in Odisha, when Nayak did a quick study of farmers, he found about 90% of them owned less than two acres while some 60% owned less than one acre. Water pumps in the market were usually 2 horsepower or more and were a waste for such small land holdings.
The pump Nayak designed was an efficient 0.5 horsepower, which is ideal for small farmers. It is this pump that the MNRE ministry officials and banks support and expect to be used widely in the country .
Perhaps, the future will bring in more IIT professors to the realm of energy innovation.

Source:THE ECONOMIC TIMES-5th October,2017

Switches on an app

NUOS’ home automation systems do not need rewiring or civil work and can be operated from anywhere in the world

While designing farm houses spread over 18 acres in Karjat, architect Ravi Desai’s main concern was to save power. He wanted a retrofit solution that would prevent all the street lights getting switched on or off at the same time. “It was a complex design as we wanted one set of lights to switch on and off automatically at a particular time, and the other set to switch on at another time,” says Mr. Desai. They wanted manual control as well.
Like him, Prasad Bhagare, a businessman, too wanted an automated solution for his 3,000 sq ft home at Kharghar; a system that could easily be operated by all the members of his family, from his 14-year-old son to his 80-year-old parents. “We wanted a blend of physical as well as touch screen solutions,” says Mr. Bhagare.
The startup NUOS [NOU is intelligence in Japanese, while OS is part of the word ‘ethos’] Home Automation fulfilled their needs, without them going in for any additional civil work or rewiring. Says its founder Neil Savant, “It is generally believed that people can go in for automation only when they are renovating or moving into a new house or office. However, we provide retrofit systems that don’t need rewiring or civil work, and minimise installation-related problems.”
Retrofit systems
It is this retrofit (switch-to-switch replacement without change in wiring) that sets NUOS apart from its competitors. Its solutions allow customers to control appliances through a mobile app from anywhere in the world. “To automate devices like lights and fans, most companies’ products have boxes that go behind the switchboard,” says Mr. Savant.
In almost all cases, there is no space behind the switchboard to fit any small device because there is a lot of existing wiring. Hence, civil work has to make space for their boxes. An expert is needed to wire the devices to their boxes — it is not something a local electrician can do, explains Mr. Savant. However, NUOS hardware eliminates the need for rewiring and civil work as the existing switches just need to be replaced by touch switches and sensors in the existing switchboards. “Further, installation can be done within 15 minutes and the entire system can be up and running in 20 minutes flat,” says Mr. Savant.
An automation system for a three-bedroom-hall-kitchen flat can range from ₹1.5 lakh to ₹3 lakh, depending on the requirement.
Growing from scratch
Mr. Savant has always nurtured the aspiration to make home and office automation products simple, precise and innovative. After working for nearly four years with Navistar and Cummins in USA in various engineering and management positions, Mr. Savant returned to India in 2014 and launched NUOS in July that year, with two engineers.
With a couple of laptops, a savings pool of ₹1.60 crore, the team started out of a 180 sq ft garage in Matunga by making prototypes of circuits (controlling LEDs and fans through a mobile app and gaining expertise in power electronics). The team has now expanded to 15 members. NUOS now makes industry-grade hardware and software, which are essentially Internet of Things products.
Its product range includes touch switches, an IR or infrared blaster [All devices like televisions, air conditioners, set-top boxes and projectors which need an infrared remote can be operated using the NUOS app through the blaster wirelessly]; temperature or humidity sensor; a curtain motor controller, which helps automated curtains and blinds to open or close; an Internet Protocol camera whose feed can be viewed wirelessly from anywhere in the world and a central gateway which works with an Android/IOS mobile application as well as a web platform not just from inside the home or office but from anywhere in the world.
Recently, NUOS unveiled an energy meter through which they plan to regulate power consumption. The meter can measure power and the consumer can control it using the NUOS switches. Its ‘Amazon Alexa’ enables clients to control home appliances with their voices. “By saying, ‘Alexa’, our consumers can turn appliances on or off and even change the intensity of lights and fans,” says Chandrashekhar Sahu, Engineering Lead.
Future plans
Till date, NUOS has provided home and office automation services to over 25 customers in Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Bengaluru. By December, 2017, Mr. Savant hopes to achieve 4,000 installations across India.
Mr. Savant also has a grander vision for the company: set a benchmark in the smart home industry through their ‘made in India’ products. Says Mr. Savant, “Five years from now, we plan on having not just products in the realm of automation but a strong platform that will be intelligent as well as intuitive and solve energy and environmental problems by helping to reduce the carbon footprint.”

Source:THE HINDU-5th October,2017

IIT team develops system to monitor drought in South Asia

Precipitation and temperature data provided at finer resolution than before

Near real-time monitoring of drought at a 5-km scale that will help policy makers in water management at a district level is now possible, thanks to tools developed and made available online by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar.
The researchers offer precipitation and temperature datasets and drought indicators available from 1980 to April 2017 covering the entire South Asian region. The data will be updated weekly. Besides drought, the datasets can also be used for monitoring heat and cold waves in South Asia.
“We don’t know whether a particular region is in drought as we don’t have real-time rainfall and temperature data at appropriate scale. IMD [Indian Meteorology Department] provides daily rainfall data mainly during the monsoon season. There’s no real-time information at high-resolution about drought after the monsoon season,” says Prof. Vimal Mishra from the Civil Engineering department at IIT Gandhinagar and one of the two researchers who developed the dataset.
Also, IMD’s drought information is based only on rainfall data and does not incorporate the role of air temperature. But higher temperature after the monsoon season can cause drought-like situation due to increased evaporation and transpiration losses.
At the district level
The team wanted to provide information in near real-time on whether a region of interest is under drought and what part of a district or sub-basin is under drought.
The emphasis was to develop a dataset at a finer resolution (5 km) as the data provided by IMD and other agencies is coarse (resolution of 25 km). The researchers used CHIRPS global rainfall data which are available at 5 km resolution and corrected the data for bias and errors. CHIRPS stands for Climate Hazards Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station. “The corrected data compares well with the IMD data once we aggregate our data to the IMD scale,” says Prof. Mishra.
The precipitation dataset at a finer resolution of 5 km over the entire South Asian region was evaluated against a standard rainfall database (APHRODITE) that is available for South Asia and satellite-based information. Earlier studies have shown that the Aphrodite database matches the IMD rainfall data quite well. The results were published in the journal Scientific Data.
“The drought indices — standardised precipitation index and standardised precipitation evapotranspiration index — were estimated using the bias-corrected, high-resolution data and evaluated against satellite-based drought products. The validation gives us the confidence that our dataset can indicate the severity and extent of drought at a district and sub-basin level in south Asia,” says Saran Aadhar from the Civil Engineering department at IIT Gandhinagar and the first author.
The researchers used the drought indices to assess severity and extent of drought in 2015 for a four-month period from June to September. “The developed dataset and drought indicators performed well over the South Asian region. Apart from IMD, this is an additional effort to provide more real-time information on drought that can be used for decision-making,” says Prof. Mishra.

 Source:THE HINDU-5th October,2017