Bang, Bang, Head, Head
That they chose to adopt MC Escher’s artwork as their logo vouches their love for Mathematics, symmetry and Perpetual Motion Machines. And that they modified it slightly to resemble Apple’s rainbow logo vouches for the fact that they ask you to “Think different”. Shaastra, IIT Madras’ ISO 9001:2000 certified, one of a kind, national confluence of the best Engineering minds in the country is back, come October 4th. And boy, does it get better this year.
Unquestionably, Shaastra’s robotics contest is a huge crowd-puller. Anything from extinguishing a flame in a building to fighting out your opponent’s robot in a sumo wrestling contest is expected normal behaviour of a robot you designed. This year, the organizers must have thought that people must be bored watching robots do ordinary things like locating the source of fire in a building. And so they introduced the grand Gold Rush competition for robots. Aside the robotics contest, a “big name” in the Industry sponsors a design contest expecting the participants to design anything ranging between a foldable bicycle to an air-conditioned cloak.
Just when you thought that engineers from IIT are worth writing code or designing new algorithm, here they are to prove you wrong with their newest event, a business plan contest, Breakthrough. Shaastra, though is not all work and no play. The national-level Ignobel Prize are annually awarded to people whose acheivements, well, in keeping with the spirit of Ignobel Prizes , “first make people laugh, then make people think”. The results aren’t as far-fetched as you think: They’ve established the cause of earthquakes – catfish wiggling their tails. They’ve devised a propulsion system with possibly the best fuel-econony, for they use, hold your breath, human-flatulence to power engines. This year, a science-fiction writing contest joins the events list.
Their rather impressive events list sums up what Engineering is all about. Or atleast what Engineering should be – ingenious, creative, full of contraptions working on simple elementary first principles and yet fun.
P.S. The author has a track record of being least successful in the last two years of Shaastra. Yet she is all in awe of the event and plans to remain a not-so-mute spectator in the years to come.