Hackathons are an opportunity to co-create solutions to solve real world problems

Hackathon coding

Analog Devices initiated ‘Anveshan Design Fellowship’ as a biennial system design fellowship in 2010 focused on enhancing System Design knowledge among university students. The company saw a perceptible gap in theory versus practical knowledge among graduating students. As compared to a design contests where participating teams run on their own, Anveshan focused on mentoring, pairing up the student teams with a faculty advisor and a mentor from the industry. This unique fellowship approach went extremely well and was lauded by both university faculty and participating teams. In 2012, Analog Devices India scaled up the student design fellowship to 100 universities, followed by outreach to over 300 engineering colleges and universities with over 120 teams participating in 2014.

This year too, the company witnessed a record number of 489 registrations from all over India. This included participants from the student community, industry professionals, players from the IoT segment, startup founders, hobbyists and would-be-entrepreneurs. The focus of Anveshan this year was on the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, working towards building a truly connected world that is intelligent and efficient.

Jimmy Chalakkal, Sr. Manager- Field Application Engineering, shares his views on how mentoring entrepreneurs and students on digital technologies can help in accelerating India’s digital India vision.

Some edited excerpts:

How can competition platforms such as hackathons or innovation challenges accelerate India’s vision of digitization?
The vision of digital India program is to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. As a nation we are impaired with the great divide between rural and urban India and together with socioeconomic elements, technology can be a great leveler to bridge this gap.
Hackathons or Fellowship programs do not differentiate the talent based on rating of colleges. Rather it’s an opportunity for open, receptive and young engineering minds to come together, to innovate and co-create solutions to solve real world problems, bringing tangible benefits to the economy and society as a whole.

What has been Analog Devices’ experience in conducting such contests? What are the benefits for Analog Devices as a company?
In a modern world, the notion that sharing will diminish the giver is less and less relevant. Analog Devices is the leading global high-performance analog technology company dedicated to solving the toughest engineering challenges and a platform like Anveshan has helped us to connect with the academia and mentored many teams since inception in 2009-10.

We have witnessed rapid changes in the way the student community has transformed themselves in understanding and deciphering the real world problems and exploring unique ways to solve these challenges. Uniqueness of such solutions are not just limited to the technological innovations that they pursued, rather aided by their ability to think from different perspectives, willingness to learn and to get guided by experienced mentors in co-creating the product design.

All finalists, were from the same breed who came out with innovative ideas, fostered team work, demonstrated ability to take risks, removed obstacles, worked on alternate options and were on schedule to complete their project, clearly exhibiting behavioral traits of engineers with entrepreneurial skills.

Can you brief us on some of the notable projects from the competition?
Anveshan’s focus this year was on IoT applications, working towards building a truly connected world that is intelligent, efficient and aligning with our focus to solve IoT challenges in applications where outcomes really matter, enabled by sensing and measuring capabilities which deliver more accurate, reliable and complete data.

The four winners from Universities concentrated on environmental and healthcare issues. The winning team of this year from Indian Institute of Madras, IITM showcased their project, “IoT based Virtual Physiotherapy with Biofeedback’’, enabling physiotherapists to provide effective care to patients virtually anywhere. This team explained as to how a patient’s movement is assessed through a system which includes body-worn sensor solution from Analog Devices and RGB-D camera. The camera will also provide a live video feed of the patient’s movement to the physiotherapist. The framework of the project includes an interactive 3D game for the patient to play, helping the patient to feel motivated and provides necessary information over the cloud for the physiotherapist to monitor the patient’s progress from anywhere.

The winner from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeethan, Tamil Nadu, demonstrated their product, ‘Smarter Air’, providing air quality monitoring solutions by deploying mobile air monitoring sensors with cloud analytics.

What happens to the winning projects? Are these projects or leaders of these projects given guidance in terms of commercializing their solution?
The winning project will be awarded a certain amount of cash prize. ADI has always provided support, in every way possible, to solutions which are innovative and have the potential be a breakthrough project. We provide guidance and mentorship to the winning projects and help them convert their prototype into a complete project that can be executed.

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