A six-pound satellite, designed and built by a team of 50 students at the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur was placed into orbit on October 12th by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C18 (PSLV-C18) of the India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO). Named Jugnu (firefly), the satellite is just about four inches long.
Jugnu’s ejection system, which separates the satellite from the launch vehicle and places it in a precise orbit, will be the subject of a patent to be filed by IIT Kanpur via ISRO. Jugnu cast such a spell on students that some of them shunned tempting job offers just to stay with the project, recalls Project Leader and Mechanical Engineering Professor Nalinaksh S. Vyas.
Shashank Chintalagiri, a physics major, elaborating on his experiences as a project member, told NDTV ” We were initially torn between ISRO’s ‘right way’ of doing things and a more practical approach that we could fit in our small size and weight. “Eventually, we decided to go ahead and design our system, taking cues from other nanosatellites built around the world. …We were able to combine technology used in daily life . . . with the design principles of space technology,” Chintalagiri added.
The 3.5 watt orbiter will conduct remote sensing to map land use and cover, agriculture, soils, forestry, city planning, archaeological investigations and is expected to have a useful life of one year.
October 27, 2011 No Comments
An engineer from my undergraduate school IIT Kanpur who also went to the University of Florida has invented a lantern-cum-stove that lights up a small room while cooking food, an intriguing application of “frugal innovation” for the 600 million rural Indians, many of whom don’t have access to reliable electric power.
The creator, Anil Rajvanshi, who heads the Nimbkar Agricultural Research Institute (Nari) in Phaltan, Satara, India says that the Lanstove runs on kerosene and produces illumination equivalent to that of a 300-watt lightbulb. The flame is lit with the flip of a valve-swittch and the unit includes a pressure cooker based on the heat pipe principle. Without smoke (that plagues village huts using firewood) or the smell of kerosene (in cruder devices) ,the Lanstove provides light and cooks a complete meal for a family of five in about 2 hours. The cooker can be used for cooking rice, lentils and vegetables, which are typical staples in an Indian rural diet.
India’s DNA newspaper reports that the Lanstove runs for six hours on a liter of kerosene. “Our tests confirmed that the carbon dioxide level generated while using Lanstove is very low as compared to that produced by chulhas (traditional wood-fired stoves).” Village resident Sunita Mohite told the paper, “While I cooked on Lanstove, children complete their homework. Otherwise they never touched the books after 6 pm.” Rajvanshi’s organization has applied for funds from India’s ministry of science and technology for manufacturing 100 units of Lanstove. “If manufactured on a commercial scale, the device could cost under Rs3,000 ($60) and villagers could pay in installments,” he said.
Major multinationals such as Shell, BP and Philips have also attempted to address these needs in India and elsewhere but no breakthrough device has yet emerged.
Takeaway: There is a huge need for innovation specific to the needs of the Indian population. While commercial success take a lot more than an invention or a working prototype, it is heartening to see engineering talent being applied to the bottom of the pyramid. Your engineers may already have a core technology or approach that is not relevant in the West but solves a major need in India; or they could readily develop something for the India market.
February 24, 2011 No Comments
Fellow IIT Alumnus and friend, Dr. “Desh” Deshpande, was just appointed to the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship, by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke. The secretary said that the Council will support President Obama’s innovation strategy by helping to develop policies that foster entrepreneurship and identifying new ways to take great ideas from the lab to the marketplace to drive economic growth and create jobs.
In America since the Industrial Revolution, basic research in public and private sector research labs has spawned new technologies and inventions that led to new businesses. And those entrepreneurial businesses have been important drivers of job creation. Firms less than five years old have accounted for nearly all net new jobs in America over the last 30 years. Yet, as a share of gross domestic product, American federal investment in the physical sciences and engineering research has dropped by half since 1970.
Readers of this blog, know of my commitment to global innovation and my firm’s support of accelerating innovation by any means necessary. I was tickled to realize that I have personally met several member of the National Council in the last 11 years (see bolded names below).
Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande is one of the most remarkable individuals I have ever met. He sold one of his early companies for over $2 billion and it eventually was absorbed by Lucent Technologies. I bought shares of his next public company, Sycamore Networks which had a spectacular IPO and great rise before it got caught in the telecom downturn in the early 2000′s . Desh chairs a charity that feeds 1.2 million schoolkids everyday in India. He’s been Chair of TiE Global in which role I saw him in my native town of Kanpur India, exhorting entrepreneurs. He is on the board of MIT and I saw him with President Susan Hockfeld on another trip to India. Desh is a member of the Pan IIT Leadership Circle, where he lends his vision to my colleagues.
Innovation in the U.S. today is carried forward not by Americans alone but also by visionary internationals like Dr. Deshpande.
August 3, 2010 1 Comment
No longer will international vendors and consumers alike need to distinguish Indian Currency with “INR.” or “Rs”. India’s Finance Ministry has reached a verdict on their national search for a currency symbol. The new symbol, which was submitted by D Udaya Kumar of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, resembles a capital “R” with two horizontal strikes through the upper-half.
The Finance Ministry decided to put the decision into the hands of the common Indian with a nationwide contest that lasted almost a year. Over 4,000 entries were cut down to a short-list of 5, before the final selection was made. According the designer, the two parallel lines capping the symbol represent the internal balance and equality of India’s economy as well as the economy’s standing among other countries of the world.
Kumar’s creation means more than a new design to grace everything from keyboards to vending machines. It represents the aspiration of India to be treated on par with the US, Europe and Japan (symbols such $, €, and ¥ are globally recognized).
Surjit Bhalla, managing director of Oxus Research and Investments, told the Christian Science Monitor, “…In 1990 if India said we’ll have a rupee symbol, people would have laughed at it. Today, people are asking how important it is.”
Some people are . Other may laugh now. But they won’t be laughing ten years from now .
July 16, 2010 1 Comment
I was recently asked to moderate a discussion panel on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The occasion was the Global Alumni Meeting of the Indian Institutes of Technology (www.panIIT2008.org) and the keynote speaker of the day was Bob MacDonald the Chief Operating Officer of Procter & Gamble. My panel had an illustrious crew as well including the co-author of the “The New Age of Innovation”. There were several other panels on at the same time: but the power of text messaging was apparent as attendees texted their buddies to come in and join our group: we ended up with ~25% more attendees than when we started.
A live blog feed was provided so I won’t try to summarize the discussion myself, just click here to learn what people said.
January 11, 2009 No Comments