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Tinkerers' Laboratory at IIT Bombay

19 April 2014

It is being long felt that the youngsters entering the field of engineering education in India are not as facile and deft with objects and things of everyday life as their peers from the developed countries. It has emerged that a significant number of Indian youth are not sufficiently "hands-on", and this missing ingredient often slows down the pace of technology based innovation. In an endeavour towards bridging this gap, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay), has established a Tinkerers' Laboratory that will provide an enabling physical environment for young engineering students to go hands on and give form and expression to their innovative and creative natures. The lab was inaugurated on March 19, 2014 by Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India, in the presence of Prof. Devang Khakhar, Director, IIT Bombay, Prof. U.A. Yajnik, Dean, Students Affairs, IIT Bombay, Prof. Ravi Sinha, Dean, Alumni & Corporate Relations, IIT Bomaby, among others. Speaking at the occasion, Dr. Chidambaram, said, "One of the aims of the Tinkerers' Lab is to empower students to take systems apart, examine the component parts and rebuilding back the original systems. It will also help the students to put together new systems, to convert creative ideas into actual engineering products." He moreover, suggested that Design innovation may be incorporated into the new technology development. "Design innovation can add exceptional value to product innovation and you have an excellent Industrial Design Centre at IIT Bombay. I hope the students using Tinkerers' Lab are able to derive benefit from the Design Centre as well," he added. The Lab has been established with a generous funding received from the 1975 alumni batch of the Institute, who have pledged a sum of Rs 2 crore towards it. The '75 batch alumni team will moreover, provide mentoring, run workshops and help organize lectures by famous innovators from India and abroad, for the benefit of IIT Bombay students. According to Mr. Hemant Kanakia, a 1975 batch alumnus of the Institute and a successful entrepreneur based in USA, "Our counterparts in US and Europe learn to build and tinker with systems from an early age. That gives them an edge when we compete with them in our professional lives. Innovators like Steve Jobs of Apple and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook developed their innovative ideas while experimenting as students, whereas we at IIT usually learn how to excel within confined bounds of curriculum and examination system. I believe that to be relevant in technology game, IITs have to meet the challenge of how to motivate their students to build things, to take initiatives and to learn to innovate by building." The Tinkerers' Lab is being set up with an intention of promoting experimentation, creativity and innovation, and will be equipped with latest workstations of electrical and mechanical tools including power mechanical machines like Lathe, Milling, Welding, Drilling, electronic test instruments, 3-D modelling software, Small PCB manufacturing unit, several workbenches, several single board computers such as Ardunio boards, etc. It will moreover, allow students to borrow spare parts and electrical circuits from its store and would provide latest mechanical and electrical tools to build and to test electro-mechanical systems from small to big projects like robots, flying machines, and biometric systems, to cite few examples. The facility, which will be managed by the students (Students' Technical Activities Body), is open to all students of the Institute, irrespective of their discipline, and will be made accessible 24x7. It will provide the freedom and facility to experiment, exercise imaginations and build novel systems. Students may begin by taking apart systems and learning how it works and by putting the knowledge they gain to build innovative advanced systems. "I hope this will aid us in generating a culture, where students work in the labs, do things on their own and also learn in the process," said, Prof. Khakhar.

Group of Students

Group of Students