The Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai is holding a social innovation competition that will focus on environmentally friendly solutions such as solar cookers and a machine that can seperate municipal waste. The aim is to promote rural empowerment and encourage social entrepreneurs to design a product that can be used in rural communities. Winners of the competition may be recognized by the UNDP, National Waste Management Council, and the Ministry of Urban Development in India.
India’s premier engineering institution, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Chennai has come up with a novel social innovation contest to be held during its annual technical festival called “Shaastra” from September 28 to October 2. The aim of the competition is to promote rural empowerment and encourage social entrepreneurs and innovators to focus on environment-friendly solutions.
The program leaders expect this unique event to provide a platform to social enterprises, socially responsible companies and individuals involved in making a difference to the environment. The problem statement of the “Shaastra Social Innovation Challenge” includes designing a fully automated robot that can segregate municipal waste and designing a solar cooker to replace traditional wood-based cooking in rural India.
The robot will have to perform sorting among food waste, plastic bags, glass and metals for the competition. Tejas Balasubramanya, a member of team organizing this competition says, “The problem statements tackle a technical socio-centric issue which poor rural people in the country are facing. The winner and that particular model will be implemented in a nearby village. The event aims to use engineering talent to resolve some of the problems plaguing rural India.”
The topmost designs at the competition will be given an opportunity to enter the Climate Healers Global Challenge, and may also get a chance to have their model field-tested in rural Rajasthan. The winners may also be recognized by the UNDP, the National Waste Management Council, and the Ministry of Urban Development in India.
Another sustainability challenge during the festival will involve college teams from all over India to see who can make the greatest difference to their campuses by making them more sustainable. The projects will cover a number of themes such as water, energy, waste management and social media awareness. The winning teams will receive a cash prize and an opportunity to attend an environmental training and certification program by the Copenhagen Communique and the Federal Ministry of German Research.
The Indian Institute of Technology at Chennai was recently awarded for having filed the maximum number of patents. “Shaastra 2011” aims to foster this culture of research and social innovation further at the institution. The event will include models and demonstrations to showcase the institute’s research in biotechnology, aerospace, chemical, civil, computer science, mechanical, electrical, metallurgy and ocean departments, while focusing on their socio-economic impact, sustainability and human development.