The 15th edition of Techfest, Asia’s largest annual science and technology festival which has also been patronized by UNESCO, was held from 6th to 8th January 2012. Initiatives like Ummeed-e- Milaap and WAVE India were undertaken by Techfest for greater outreach and to make its presence felt in the months leading up to the actual event.
For this review, we’d floated a survey, which received over 250 responses. For 4 specific departments, Lecture Series, Technoholix, Ozone and Exhibitions, we have a star-rating associated with them, drawn solely from the survey. It can be concluded from the survey that this year’s Techfest would be remembered as the one with long spiraling queues and bland Technoholix nights.
Competitions, this year attracted participants from over a 600 colleges all across the country. IIT Bombay, usually a mute spectator, participated in relatively better numbers owing to Winter Help Sessions organized by STAB. A team from IIT Bombay won the Canyon Cross having built a meter long Popsicle stick bridge that could withstand over 250 kgs of load. Flagship events like Robowars and Full Throttle attracted large crowds as usual. Code ‘em Poker- an innovative event tailored for coders and game theory enthusiasts- was well appreciated. The problem state- ment dictated individuals to develop codes to play the game of poker with each other. In another event, Appsurd, participants were expected to develop an Android app which was subsequently launched in the market. Hydranoid: Ascent faced the wrath of participants who were of the opinion that the problem statement was impossible to solve.
With the vision of inviting ideas to reshape the world, events at Ideate addressed the problems in modern day health care system along with finding sustainable solutions for predicaments faced by people in rural India. Issues regarding social and economic needs of society as well as generating greener technological solutions were also dealt with. Teams were provided with mentors to guide them on the technical and financial aspects.
Workshops, an integral part of Techfest, attracted participation in excess of 1500, apart from the Nexus outreach programs conducted in 8 cities across the country. Hugely successful, the participants went back home with a smiling face and loads of techni- cal knowledge. The variety in workshops ranges from those technically involved like Hawk-Eye, Self- balancing Bot to others like Street photography and Automotive sketching. Most of the workshops sailed smoothly, however a few did get delayed due to some organizational hassles. Android App making was regarded as a grand success by several participants.
Focusing on events which were more varied, Ozone was well received this year. Lazer Tag, Paintball and Gaming Zone managed to attract people in huge numbers. Several on-the-spot competitions like Bluffmaster, Su-Do-Ku and Politik proved highly entertaining. People appreciated them for their inno- vative ideas and the ease with which they were pulled off. Some participants were unhappy being rewarded with keyboards for events which stretched out over a couple of days. Complaints were raised by several people who found the elimination and final rounds of Bluffmaster to be grossly disconnected. ‘All In’ the poker tournament attracted hordes of people. Entertaining artists roaming the streets proved to be a fun watch. The popular Sci Tech quiz this year was replaced by a National Open Quiz whose elimina- tions were held across several colleges. The ideology behind this change was ‘to attract non-technical students’, the Techfest OC – Vishu Mahajan said. In its entirety, a fun-filled Ozone experience for the people.
This year, the Techfest team not only gathered distin- guished individuals but successfully handled huge crowds effortlessly. Eminent personalities like Nobel laureate Sir. Venki Ramakrishnan, David Griffiths and K Bradenburg (Co-inventor of .mp3) attracted huge crowds. Owing to limited seats at PCSA, David Griffiths was asked to lecture twice on the same day, which he did. Space crunch was a major issue faced at several lectures. The range of topics on which lectures were delivered this year was commendable. From Secure Electronic Money Transfer, Lucid Dreaming, Fermat’s Last Theorem to issues pertaining with Bio-Technology, the lecture series catered to people with interests as varied as possible.
Long, spiraling queues and a tiring wait seems to have put off a lot of people at this year’s Exhibitions. The exhibits themselves were rather interesting and varied across different fields of science and technology. Apart from the traditional exhibits under the canopy, the Japanese Media Art Festival showcasing Japanese comics, art, Animation and Manga was a good initia- tive. Automated and humanoid Robots from different countries were at display this year. Amalgamation of science and art was aptly delivered by the exhibits from C-Lab. High-Rank 3D, a 3D display system, developed by MIT media labs also entertained curi- ous souls. Street exhibits apart from the usual DRDO stall, included the Di-Wheel employing the latest drive by wire technology and a self balancing Unicycle. Bikes like Suzuki Hayabuza and a vinta
The selection of performers at this year’s Techfest was really disappointing. The Techfest team failed to do justice to the expectations people had from them. A short and average performance coupled with a long wait in queues did not go down well with a lot of people. When enquired regarding the quality of performers, Vishu had the following to say: “The performers this year were selected after long delibera- tions. We had to strike a balance between popular genres and new shows. People have been seeing fire and laser shows for years. We tried our best to match these expectations by introducing some new genres.”
Scintillations and Afternites
Failing to attract crowds on the first night and being cancelled on the second one due to certain technical glitches at the venue, Scintillations this year went unnoticed by most people.
Pep Bou, the bubble artist from Spain, managed to entertain people gathered in the Convocation Hall. Several people were heard regarding this event as the best event at this year’s Techfest. However, the Japanese Media Art festival, on the second night, was a flop with the crowds and received paltry viewership.
To report the performances held this year, there was Lichtfaktor who called themselves light-painters and aimed at creating stunning images on stage. Apex Parkour was a bunch of enthusiastic folks jumping around on stage to heights twice their own height. Tramphouse consisted of men jumping all over the stage using a trampoline apparently in sync with the music. Copenhagen Drummers was a band of 6 men playing drums with UV sticks, later replaced by sticks lit on fire, in coordination with electronic music being played in the background.
Good initiatives, coupled with excellent marketing strategies, Techfest 2012 made sure that it did not go unnoticed. With varied events catering to different kinds of people, the Techfest team managed to attract people from all over. How successful were they in providing them with a fun-filled experience though, is certainly questionable. Techfest, being Asia’s larg- est technology festival, needs to look into the several glitches it faced this year more carefully. Delaying of events or in some cases even cancellations, gives a bad vibe with regards to the festival. To sum it up, a more polished delivery of events is expected from Techfest in years to come.
We received tremendous help from the student community as well as the administration in the organization of the festival and on behalf of the core team, I am really thankful for that. Regarding participation though, I feel we can do a much better job. We wait to see a day when all the competitions are won by IITB students. The feedback has been really valuable and we will try our best to incorporate all suggestions in the coming years.