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Sparking Indian Youth to Action—Smart India Hackathon 2019

The Grand Finals of the Smart India Hackathon 2019, Software Edition, was held on the 2nd and 3rd of March at the MIT Library, Manipal as a Nodal Center. The marathon event was a real test of the strength, knowledge and perseverance of each team, as it involved 36 hours of continuous coding. Pushing the students to their limits, the hackathon expanded the competitors’ coding skillset and brought about a new perspective to programming as a whole. Each team was riddled with problem statements provided by industrial specialists like BEML and Mahindra Electric.

Flawlessly organised, the event proceeded like clockwork. The hackathon began at 7:40 am on Saturday morning, with inaugural speeches given by the Director of MIT, Dr D Srikanth Rao, and Deputy Commissioner of Udupi district, Hephsiba Rani Korlapati IAS. This was followed by a series of video speeches by distinguished individuals, including the Chairman, AICTE, Smart India Hackathon, Prof. Anil Sahasrabudhe, the Secretary of MHRD, Sh. R. Subrahmanyam and the Minister of HRD, Shri Prakash Javadekar. The students were also addressed by Dr Anand Deshpande, the Chairman & MD of Persistent Systems and Co-Chair of the Smart India Hackathon Organizing Committee, via a video speech.

At 8:30 am, the hackathon finally began with teams working tirelessly for the duration of the event. The teams were served tea and snacks at their respective tables at regular intervals and were mentored after each session by industry personnel to assist them with their tasks. The event continued with enthusiasm and vigour for the entire first day, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding a live Q&A session with all the students at night. He held sessions with all the participants at various centres across India and urged the participants to think in a manner that would benefit the masses.

The Prime Minister addressed the fact that hackathons brought together students and companies, and claimed that the country was headed in the right direction to harness the potential of technology. The Prime Minister also went on to encourage the students to use the technology at their disposal to find solutions to problems such as crimes against women and simple issues such as setting up e-commerce portals for street vendors. The HRD Minister, Shri Prakash Javadekar addressed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and discussed the details of the hackathon. He went on to call the Smart India Hackathon “the biggest hackathon in the world” and highlighted how events like these help a student develop a problem-solving mentality.

The hackathon continued into the night, with energy drinks being served, and a half hour recreational break. The next day saw teams battle it out against time constraints as they dealt with every level of complexity of their problem statements. At 5:00 pm on 3rd March the coding phase finally came to a close, and the final round of evaluation commenced.

For the valedictory session, the Chief Guest, Brig. (Dr.) Surjit Singh Pabla, President of Bhartiya Skill Development University and former Pro Vice Chancellor of MAHE, was asked to address the gathering of buzzing young minds. He brought to light the importance of the IT industry in our country’s growth and the importance of skill development in engineers. Dr D Srikanth Rao also addressed the gathering, while the AICTE representative, Ms. Aditi Gupta spoke glowingly about the organisation and management of the event.

As the hackathon came to a close, it was time for the winners to be announced. For the problem statements given by BEML, Team Photon from SRM won for the first statement which was on automatic active server communication response. For the second statement based on variable speed transmissions for mechanical power trains, Team Racemates from IIT Jammu took the prize home. Statement three required the students to develop a knowledge based web app for e-procurement and team Tab Spaced Coders from Universal College of Engineering Mumbai collected this award.

The problem statement from Mahindra Electric consisted of three parts to it—Intelligent Range Estimator, Electric Vehicle Charging app, and Universal Charging adapter. Team Firebird from RMK Engineering College won the award for this problem statement. The next statement was on monitoring power consumption and creating a recommendation system for efficiency improvement, won by Team Shield. The final statement was on converting Indian Languages to sign languages, and Team IETIAN from Indian Institute of Engineering and Technology, Lucknow, won the Hackathon. The statement was particularly challenging, as it involved a linguistic barrier, and the condition of having the app to be completely offline and within a 100MB size limit proved to be extremely difficult.

To conclude the event, Mr Shyam Karanth, a professor from the Computer Science and Engineering Department, who was the point of contact between Smart India Hackathon and the Manipal Nodal Centre, gave a vote of thanks recognising the invaluable efforts put in by so many people over the course of the two days to make the event possible. He also took special note of the student team associated with the organisation of the event. The Grand Finale of the Smart India Hackathon concluded with the National Anthem and left all the participants relishing one of the most exhilarating academic experiences of their lives.

Image Credits: The Photography Club, Manipal

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