Pragyan is an ISO 9001 and 20121 certified, student run festival that is hosted every year at NIT, Tiruchirappalli. It is the largest techno-management fest in India and provides one of the best platforms for students and inquisitive minds to showcase their technical skills and knowledge. The 13th edition of Pragyan, sponsored by MRF Pvt. Ltd., was held from the 2nd to the 5th of March, 2017. The theme for this edition was ‘Light’.
Inside image: AstroSoc’s BEYOND EARTH magazine as media partner @Pragyan’17
Pragyan works round the year and before the main four-day fest, Pragyan ’17 started conducting Outreach events and Social Responsibility activities right from August 2016. Pragyan ’17 commenced with its inaugural ceremony on the 2nd of March, which was held at the Barn Hall. The Chief Guest for the inauguration was Dr. Ratan Kumar Sinha – Former Chairman at the Atomic Energy Commission of India. In his talk he discussed the current scenario in the field of nuclear energy, elaborating on India’s nuclear program and how the regulations for nuclear station construction have been changing in the past few years to reflect ground realities better. It was also the inaugural Pragyan for the Director of NIT Trichy, Dr.Mini Shaji Thomas, who in her speech, described how Pragyan was bound to cover the spectrum of the needs of every budding engineer. Following the Inaugural ceremony, Laser Show India conducted a stunning laser imagery show in the NSO grounds, as a part of the Infotainment programme. Initially, the eclectic mix of lasers was projected through a white screen posed to the audience, which was followed by an EDM-backed display of intriguing patterns in an aesthetically foggy ambience. The event ended with a thundering applause from the audience, signalling the initiation of three days of innovation.
Day 1 of Pragyan 2017 commenced on 3rd March, with an air of excitement all around the campus. The first Guest Lecture for the day and for Pragyan ’17 was by Padmasri Dr. S K Pal – Former Director of the Indian Statistical Institute. His talk was on pattern recognition, which included an interactive session with the audience. This was followed by a ‘Tech Talk’ by Temenos, on the working and the structure of their company. The afternoon of Day 1 saw an enthusiastic talk from the Guest Speaker, Mr. Kishore Jayaraman – the President of Rolls-Royce India and South-East Asia. He talked passionately about innovation, the role Rolls-Royce plays in the field of Aerospace and its future plans. The last Guest Speaker of the day was Mr. David J Peterson – a linguist, who created the languages Dothraki and Valyrian for the popular TV series ‘Game of Thrones’. He spoke about his interest towards languages and about naturalism; that every language has its own roots that can be traced back to natural properties. He justified this with examples from English and Tamil. He ended his talk with a preview of his latest project– Bright. The flagship events of the day included HoverOne – a hovercraft racing competition conducted by the aeromodelling club of NIT-T, 3D, NFS Aqua – a RC boat racing competition, Circuitrix – an event that tested the skill set of the participants in basic electronics, Junkyard Wars – a design competition where the participants were to build working models with scrap material based on the problem statement and Fix-it – a Chill Pill, hands-on, problem-solving challenge. As a closure for Day 1, two Infotainment programmes were conducted. The first was a magic show by the famous illusionist from Malaysia, Chris Cheong. The show was very interactive as he called audience members to the stage to take part in the mind boggling illusions he created. The second was a pyro show, a dazzling display of fire dancing by Anta Agni – a trio of fire dancers based in Slovekia. During the enthralling 15 minute show, the dancers displayed their exceptional talents through a wide variety of choreographies and daring stunts including fireworks and hula-hoops. The captivating show came to a close with a standing ovation from the audience for a performance filled with perfection.
4th March, 2017, saw the Day 2 of Pragyan ‘17 with a wide range of events, designed to test the technical abilities of the participants. Robovision – an object retrieval event where the participants had to design their own bots, NITTro – an RC car racing event, Pragyan Premier League – a managerial competition where each participant had to run their own cricket teams under simulated environments, Contraption – where simple ideas turned into practical rigs and Quad Combat – where participants waged war with their perfectly crafted Quadcopters against each other, are a few to name. The final highlight for the first half of Day 2, was the Guest Talk by Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai – the Founder and CEO of Brahmos Aerospace. The lecture was very informative with Dr. Pillai speaking on India’s prosperity dynamics and about India’s missile programme. He finished his speech with a glimpse into his days at DRDO and ISRO and his work with Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam. The opening event for the afternoon was a talk by Dr. Henry Throop– an astronomer who co-discovered Styx, one of Pluto’s moons. After giving a brief description to the solar system, Dr. Throop talked in detail about the New Horizons Mission, of which he was an integral part. The most awaited Lecture of the day was the one by Dr. Richard Muller – a physicist from UC Berkeley and a Quora phenomenon. The audience witnessed a remarkable and intriguing talk on air pollution, global warming, nuclear waste management and flow of time. He also explored a few ideas about Quantum physics and presented a graphical view into LIGO’s gravitational wave detection. Day 2 of Pragyan ’17 saw its only Crossfire event taking place. The panel discussion was on the topic, ‘Will Equity lead to Equality?’ and was headed by Mrs. Dhanya Rajendran – the Editor-in-Chief of the News Minute. The other panellists included Dr. Santosh Mehrotra – a Professor of Economics at JNU, Dr. Trilochan Sastry – Founder and Chairman of the Association of Democratic Reforms, Mr. M Satya Kumar – an Economic and Public Policy Thought Leader and Mr. T R Raghunandan – Co-founder of Avantika Foundation. All the panelists held a vocal stance on the issue and deliberated skilfully on issues such as equity, political transparency in education schemes, sustainable development of entrepreneurial skills and the economic condition of the Indian population. The final event of the day was a UV light show by Anta Agni. The vibrant costumes with exquisite details, LED cubes and Hula-hoops, air-brushed ribbons, acrobatics on the Cyr wheel and Pixel-poi did their job in driving the crowd wild with excitement.
Dr. Throop giving his lecture
The morning of Day 3 of Pragyan’ 17 witnessed a number of events conducting their final rounds. These included HYDRO – an event that tested the participants’ skills on hydraulics, Aerogami – an Origami event for aerodynamics enthusiasts, Rush Hour – a line following bot competition where the bots also had to navigate their way through mazes and the national level finals of the Pragyan Main Quiz. Mr. Rajshekar Murthy – Founder of International Malware Conference, gave the first Guest Talk of the day. His talk included his views on the role that psychology plays in a company and in the society and how hackers are a dangerous force to reckon with. He concluded by elucidating about the National Security Database. The second half of Day 3 commenced with the lecture by Ms. Nandini Harinath – Former Deputy Director of Mangalyaan. She talked in great length on the role of ISRO on our day to day lives and about the Mars Orbiter Mission. This was followed by another Guest Lecture by Dr. Ada Yonath – a Nobel Laureate in Chemistry. She explained the details of her groundbreaking research and the difficult path she had to tread to reach the position she was at. This was followed by an interactive session with the audience. Apart from this, the entirety of the fest saw a plethora of Workshops and Exhibitions. The workshops aimed at providing hands-on, practical training to the participants included Autotrix – a three-day workshop by Top Engineers on the working of engines, Swarm Robotics – a 2-day workshop by Robotech Labs on AVR Microcontroller programming and robot building, Cross Platform – an app development workshop by EI Systems and Quadcopter – an aeromodelling workshop conducted by AerotriX. International exhibits such as Vantablack – the darkest known substance and the INDRO Humanoid Robot – India’s tallest robot were few of the highlight exhibits showcased during Pragyan ’17. The Sangam and Ingenium also saw an enthusiastic participation from the student fraternity. An E-Voting system designed with MatLab, JARVIS – an Artificial Intelligence PA, a Mid-flight reconfiguration drone, a smart home and traffic control system based on IoT were a few of the exhibits. The auto exhibit which showcased popular motorcycles like Benelli and Harley Davidson also attracted a huge crowd.
March 5th, 2017, witnessed the valedictory ceremony of Pragyan ’17 which was presided over by Dr. Ada Yonath as the Chief Guest and Mr. Solaikutty Dhanabal – Academic Project Manager at National Instruments, as the Guest of Honour. After the valediction, a stand-up performance by Biswa Kalyan Rath took place under the banner of Infotainment and Comedy Night; marking a perfect finale for Pragyan 2017.