“How big is the campus, and how long would it take to see everything around?” asked an inquisitive voice. Pratyush Bansal, a 9th grade student from Global Indian International School, Singapore had come as a participant to IIT Kharagpur campus on the event of the Young Innovators Program 2019.
Launched in 2017, the Young Innovators Program or YIP is in its third year with almost three times more participants from India and abroad. With more than a hundred students, the task of touring the 2100 acres campus within an hour was indeed a challenge.
The day was windy with erratic spells of drizzle at regular intervals, owing to a depression over the Bay of Bengal. As the bus just rolled out of the Vikramshila complex, the children were shown the huge, expansive Tata Sports Complex to their left. They were surprised to find a ground as huge as this where IITans play both soccer and cricket.
As the bus moved on its first gear, ADDA was spotted on the right. “What does the word mean?” asked a few. “In the local language, it means casual chit-chat and gossip” replied one of IIT Kharagpur’s student volunteers. Crossing the clock tower on the Tikka Circle, the bus moved on to the Halls of Residence. The constant rustling and mumbling of the students in the bus reminded all of our schooldays, especially the picnics and excursions. One child could no longer contain his excitement – “Can you please show us Sundar Pichai’s department?” he asked. “Yes, of course. But before that, this is where he stayed”, said Rishabh, a volunteer, pointing out to Nehru Hall. The children strained their necks out of the window to get a glimpse. The bus moved on to Madan Mohan Malviya or the ‘MMM’ Hall of Residence. The students’ jaws dropped on hearing the hall capacity of 3000 students!
Completing a round of all the Halls of Residence, the bus took the 2.2 route, going past Jnan Ghosh Stadium, Technology Students Gymkhana, Swimming Pool, Basketball and Volleyball courts and entered the main academic campus. Most students wished to get down for a snap of the main building, but were discouraged by the bad weather. Passing the Central library, the bus crossed ECE, Physics and Mining Engineering Department and halted in front of the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering. A few children screamed with glee as they were able to identify Sundar Pichai’s department. Cameras and mobile phones captured numerous shots.
“IIT Kharagpur grows its tea in its campus itself,” remarked Prathmesh, a student volunteer.
“Are there hills in the campus?” asked a participant, given that tea is known to grow on hilly slopes.
Their doubts cleared up as the bus took a turn towards Nalanda complex and stopped briefly near the tea garden. The astonishment on the faces clearly indicated their curiosity to know the science behind tea cultivation on plain ground.
After around 15-20 minutes at the DIY Lab at Ramanujan complex, the children headed to the most sought-after location of the campus – the Nehru Museum. Formerly Hijli Detention Centre, this massive colonial architectural marvel has now been converted into a science and technology museum and attracts both students and teachers alike from schools in the surrounding neighborhood.
“Were there real prisoners in these cells?”
“Hey, just look at the locking mechanism! The inmate can never open this.”
“Goodness! This stone ages back to World War II?”
“What kind of a fighter jet is it? Any idea?”
Questions like these and many more floated around the old IIT building as students waited outside for their turn to visit the museum.
It was an interactive session of sorts inside the museum. The young bunch indulged in different hands-on experiments, which included the flow of solids and liquids in a given medium, the probability curve, rolling contact, the swinging of pendulums, the magnet-testing equipment, the elliptical carom board, the formation and conduction of electricity in clouds and so on.
With the recent launch of Chandrayaan 2, the students found the aerospace enclosure of the museum highly interesting. The principle of aerodynamics and propulsion installed in the equipment in experimental boxes drew the maximum crowd.
The last room of the museum is dedicated to some of the best photographers of the campus – both students and employees of the Institute.
“Are these pictures taken by IIT students?” asked Sanjiv. He represented NSN Memorial Senior Secondary School, Chennai. “Can’t be,” guessed Surya, his teammate, adding, “Where’s the time left for IITians to indulge in hobbies after studying through day and night?” Student volunteers broke into a fit of laughter!
Apart from an otherwise strict academic curriculum, IIT Kharagpur takes pride in having among its students some amazing photographers, filmmakers, a keen Everester or two and others who have dared to ditch regular engineering jobs and chase their dreams instead. The Young Innovators Program seeks to trigger that passion in these blooming minds where they learn to think differently, carve their own path and stand out in the crowd.
It was suddenly time for all to head towards the Kalidas Auditorium for the inaugural program.