Young Professionals, Microwaves and a Regional Gathering

The third edition of the prestigious IEEE Region 10 Student/ Young Professionals/ Women in Engineering Congress 2015 was held Colombo, Sri Lanka from 9th July to 12th July, 2015. The congress began on a high note with the first ever IEEE Cricket league played between different sections. This fostered a sense of healthy competitive spirit among all the delegates of the Asia Pacific region. This was followed by an ice breaking session where people from different sections mingled and got a chance to know each other. On the night of Day 1, the congress was officially declared open by Dr. Ramakrishna Kappagantu, Director, IEEE Region 10 who warmly welcomed all the guests and delegates.

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The Microwave Theory and Techniques society hosted a special session on students and young professionals engagement in the society. Tushar Sharma, Member, image and Visibility committee spoke at length about the initiatives of the MTT society and how beneficial it is. He shared the core vision of the society which is to foster the advancement and application of RF and microwave theory and techniques. MTTS involves all the three type of member’s i.e. student members by encouraging them to set up student branch chapters, young professional’s engagement through conferences and workshops, and women in microwave by taking initiatives to involve them in the fields of RF and microwave.

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The society plans launching Young Professionals in Microwave plan with focus of recruiting volunteers and industry professionals from different parts of the world. This point struck a personal chord with the audience as each one of them could find some benefit in joining MTTS. He talked about the student activities conducted by MTTS, some of them being: Summer grants program, Undergraduate and graduate scholarships, Distinguish Microwave Lecture Program, Education Activities and Conferences and workshop. He also spoke about the various volunteering opportunities through which one can create an impact on the society. He shared success stories how locally some chapters were able to have an phenomenal impact through  IEEE MTTS-NASA and Stanford collaboration for research programmes as well as the IEEE- MTTS STAR(Students Teachers and Researchers) program. He also talked about the numerous funding opportunities available in MTTS be it in the form of Undergraduate/PHD scholarships or 1000$ that MTTS gives every year for Chapter activity support. Tushar Sharma explained the audience as to how to use MTTS efficiently for technical projects, industrial visits, microwave symposiums, and forming Special Interest Groups. The deadline for undergraduate and graduate scholarships for upcoming year is October 15, 2015 and can be found at http://www.mtt.org/students.html.

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This was followed by a small talk on IEEE MTTS SIGHT and its initiatives. Tushar spoke about the upcoming SIGHT panel sessions, design competitions, and amateur radio classes to be hosted in International Microwave and RF conference (IMARC 2015) in Hyderabad which will be held on 10th December, 2015.  The objective of this event is to motivate high school students, young engineers, professionals to apply low cost innovative microwave technology for disaster readiness and humanitarian needs. IEEE MTT-S SIGHT has also started the concept of Makaton’s:- The technical Marathon where the teams have to identify problems faced at the local level and to “make something” to solve that problem.

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The IEEE MTT society stall also saw a lot of crowd with many interested students coming forth and talking about their problems with Mr. Tushar Sharma. This Congress proved to be the perfect platform for MTTS to increase their visibility and enlighten the delegates about its resourcefulness. On the last night of the congress, a cultural night was organized so that delegates could have a better understanding of each other’s culture and admire how big and diverse our world is. Each section put up a cultural performance as well as a stall with various souvenirs from their sections. The prize distribution ceremony took place on the last day of the congress. Feedback was also taken by the organizers so that the organizing committee of the next Congress could take note of these points and organize the Congress on an even better and bigger scale. The congress ended with one last group photograph and a lifetime of memories, collaborations and friendship.

Tech Update: Bacteria eating and breathing electricity

How do we use bacteria that can eat and breathe electricity using renewable resources to produce something we can use? This could potentially be very powerful here in Australia as we have abundance of land, sun and wind but in areas that aren’t populated” says Dr Ashley Franks.

microDr. Ashley Franks is a researcher at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.

Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) use bacteria to convert organic waste material into electrical energy. This environmentally-friendly process produces electricity without the combustion of fossil fuels. MFCs have various practical applications such as in breweries, domestic wastewater treatment, desalination plants, hydrogen production, remote sensing, and pollution remediation, and they can be used as a remote power source. Widespread use of MFCs in these areas can take our waste products and transform them into energy.

Today I am going to tell you about my big fat idea and I’ll be talking to you about bacteria that can eat and breathe electricity. When we talk about electricity with bacteria what we’re actually talking about is the way they can gain energy. And while the idea might seem sort of quite interesting and unusual it all goes back to the way that all living organisms can gain energy. When we gain energy, we have a nice meat pie, have some tomato sauce, we actually eat this, it’s organic food, but what we do is we breathe oxygen so we take in our organics, it has energy, we transfer energy to oxygen and form carbon dioxide. Without the oxygen we don’t really do very well, we end up dying and we call this respiration. But there’s lots of bacteria all around our world that can actually keep on surviving and respiring without oxygen. So what these bacteria are able to do is use what we call alternate electronic acceptors. Oxygen for us accepts our electrons, these bacteria can use different things.

One of the interesting bacterias that my lab is interested in is ones … is bacteria that can actually breathe metals. So this is a lump of iron oxide, solid bit of rust. It is metal but the bacteria you see sitting on the surface in green are actually breathing the metal. So they’re eating the organics, eating their pie but they’re able to breathe the metal. The difference here is that the metal is a big lump of something outside itself. So to breathe you’d have to go up and touch it, it can’t breathe in oxygen like we do, it has to go and touch the actual lump of metal and give up electricity this way. So the reason why this is interesting to us is because you can actually gather that electricity the bacteria is breathing if you give it an electrode. If you put an electrode into this system this bacteria then will breathe the electrons onto the electrode and you can gather this as an electrical current.

Ashley Franks' eyes light up – a current flows from pond muck

Ashley Franks’ eyes light up – a current flows from pond muck

So the interesting thing here is not only meat pies but all different types of organics from around the world these bacteria can actually use. And it’s actually very beneficial because once you put it into a system like a system what we call here is a microbial fuel cell, this can actually operate like a battery. So bacteria, eating, breathing, they’re electricity, we can actually put into a system and it works together to actually form a small amount of electricity. And these bacteria you can find anywhere in the world. Usually they’re under the ground where there’s no oxygen, there’s lots of them and they use lots of different organics which they can break down and provide us with electricity. People quite often think that this is really exciting ‘cause now we can actually save our electricity problems around the world ‘cause we can just get bacteria to eat our garbage and produce it. But our problem is is that bacteria are only small and they only make a small amount of electricity. So the current and voltage output that they do is quite small but it can still have some very, very beneficial processes.

The US Navy uses these under … in the soil in the actual ocean bottom and having one that’s about 1m3 of these sort of electrodes, these have a big one, is they’re about the same as 30 diesel batteries per year. While it’s not very much electricity in power what this allows you to do is actually leave a device somewhere while the bacteria are happily eating and they keep on eating for a long, long, long time, you never have to go back and change batteries. So if you wanted to actually put sensors in a rainforest, if you wanted to put sensors in a river, if you wanted to power a small device somewhere you could put this into the actual mud and the bacteria will quite happily breathe their electricity onto your electrode and power your small device. And for us in our research lab one of our most interesting points that we like to look at is these bacteria that are breathing the electrode. So these bacteria get a wide different mix, these are just some pictures of some different types but what the bacteria do is they actually go up to this electrode, they touch the electrode and able to breathe it. So this would be like if you and me were able to hold hands across a room with no oxygen and someone can touch a wall and we all can breathe together. And the bacteria are able to do this because they produce this specialised pillon and cytochromes.

chambered BMFC being deployed in Yaquina Bay Oregon in August 2011.  The chamber is pushed into the sediment and in this semi-enclosed state, the inside volume goes anaerobic. Carbon brushes positioned inside the chamber serve as the BMFC anode. Another circular carbon brush, tied to the rope harness above the chamber, serves as the cathode.  The BMFC is wired to a power management system inside the black acoustic modem that floats above the BMFC. Power from the BMFC maintains the modem and a chemical sensor (optode) interfaced with the modem. BMFCs of this design typically produce ~10 mW continuously.  This can sustain longterm sensor measurements in the ocean and can power periodic data transmissions from the acoustic modem.  We think this technology is ideal for extending sensor networks throughout the deep ocean becuase it eliminates the need for replacing instrument batteries.  Image: Oregon State University

Chambered BMFC being deployed in Yaquina Bay Oregon in August 2011. The chamber is pushed into the sediment and in this semi-enclosed state, the inside volume goes anaerobic. Carbon brushes positioned inside the chamber serve as the BMFC anode. Another circular carbon brush, tied to the rope harness above the chamber, serves as the cathode. The BMFC is wired to a power management system inside the black acoustic modem that floats above the BMFC. Power from the BMFC maintains the modem and a chemical sensor (optode) interfaced with the modem.
BMFCs of this design typically produce ~10 mW continuously. This can sustain longterm sensor measurements in the ocean and can power periodic data transmissions from the acoustic modem. We think this technology is ideal for extending sensor networks throughout the deep ocean becuase it eliminates the need for replacing instrument batteries. Image: Oregon State University

So these are like little appendages that come out from the bacteria. They have these proteins called cytochromes that can transfer electrons and they’re able to pass electrons from inside themselves to outside themselves. So these bacteria are now becoming like a material, a biological material that can actually transfer electrons over a long distance, a relative long distance. It’s only 60 micrometres which is very small but for bacteria that’s 60 bacteria. So if 60 of us could actually stand together and hold hands it would be actually like that, transferring the electrons all that way. And this is interesting especially when you’re moving into the field of bioelectronics ‘cause these bacteria can grow an electrical biofilm that can transfer electrons better than biopolymers that people are trying to produce artificially now.

But the other aspects where this is actually quite interesting is that the bacteria themselves can be used in areas such as oil spills where the problem is is you run out of oxygen. An example that people have quite often heard of is the Deep Well Horizon spill. It was in the ocean, it was underwater but oil is organics, bacteria can eat organics but the bacteria themselves out all the oxygen in that environment and they ran out of things to breathe. But knowing about these bacteria that can breathe an electrode, if we put an electrode into that actual environment we give them something more that they can breathe, they can keep on eating this oil and they can keep on breathing and we can get rid of this a lot faster. And these electrodes are just carbon, are just like a HB pencil, that’s all they are. So you put that in, the bacteria can breathe the electricity. You might have a red flashing light but you might not care about the electricity anymore ‘cause you can get rid of the oil spill.

Operational on the ocean floor

Operational on the ocean floor

And another area that people are quite … don’t think about very often ‘cause when you flush your toilet you don’t want to, is wastewater treatment. So wastewater treatment when we do this now we use a lot of oxygen so this requires big tanks, you need to stir that tank, you need to pump oxygen through so the bacteria can eat all that organic waste, get rid of it so we don’t contaminate our rivers. But with these electric bacteria we don’t need that stirring, we don’t need that pumping and that’s just a huge saving in electrical power. So in some places like the US alone 7% of their electricity goes to treating wastewater so if you used electric bacteria instead you don’t really care about making energy but you’re saving a lot of energy.

But what I’d mentioned earlier on before is that we at the moment, this is bacteria eating … oh sorry, this is bacteria breathing electricity but now what I’ll mention is that bacteria can also eat electricity. Because what I was saying is that from the meat pie which is energy that went out to the electrode, this is a transfer of electricity or transfer of energy. But there are some bacteria we have found in the environment as well that can actually take that energy from the electrode in the form of electrons and what they can do is use that as their food source and their power source to do a whole bunch of processes. A lot of people think this sounds really quite strange, a bit like The Matrix but what you probably most commonly know this as is photosynthesis. So a plant gets sunlight in its chlorophyll and produces electrons that power fixing carbon dioxide and make us our organics. But we have found is that these bacteria, they don’t have photosynthesis but they can take electrons from an electrode so rather than needing sunlight now what we can do is actually feed them electricity and get them to produce some type of biological or organic material. And as I mentioned before something like petroleum is an organic material.

Treating sewage

Treating sewage

So these bacteria, we can feed electricity which we can produce from renewable resources and get them to produce something that we can use. And this is very important in somewhere like Australia because we have lots of places where we can have a lot of wind or we have wonderful amounts of sun but our problem is is that these areas are too far from our population, from Melbourne or Sydney or anywhere where people live to get high power electricity lines. So we can’t transfer electricity over long distances. But what we could do is we could make electricity here with solar panels, feed that to bacteria who could convert it into something like butanol  and have that transferred to Melbourne where we can use it as we need. And the big advantage here as well is that we’re not taking away from somebody’s food supply so the land is not being used for food but it’s got a lot of sunlight, we can catch that and we can feed it to bacteria and have something useful. So this is a new type of biofuel and the organics in that biofuel all come from carbon dioxide, so for greenhouse gases that becomes neutral and all we need to do is feed these bacteria electricity.

But one of the things that perplexed us to begin with was that you have bacteria that can breathe electricity and bacteria that can eat electricity and if you think about in the environment there’s not many places where you’re actually having electricity being produced all the time. But the cue there that we found that was interesting is that well you’ve got one that breathes and then one that eats and if you look at these bacteria together that’s quite often you’ll find them together. So they form what we call these syntrophic relationships where they’ll work together to actually carry out some type of process and normally it is somewhere where there’s no other electronic acceptor so there’s no iron, there’s no oxygen, you’ll have two bacteria that will work together and one will breathe electricity and the other one will eat the electricity that’s coming out of it so they get this little syntrophic relationship. What the problem that is quite with this is that the by-product at the very end is methane. So this methane is a great house gas, it’s not very good for the environment but there’s a lot of bacteria in the environment which are actually able to operate together, feed each other electricity to get their food and produce methane.

So it’s interesting ‘cause our research, we’re able to show that in these environments this is actually was what happening. So this is where these bacteria that we actually found to do these amazing things have evolved over millions of years and they’ve already set up their own electrical networks, they’ve already been working together through electricity to interact. And you might be thinking well this is quite interesting but what does it mean to us in the big run? And the thing is if we understand this process then we know how to sort of try and drive these microbes to do things differently because in Victoria one of our big methane producers is dairy cattle. Everybody likes milk, everybody likes cheese but these cattle have bacteria in their stomach that produce most of the methane that they’re able to burp out and gives us a lot of methane problems. But looking at the bacterial communities in the cow what we find is that some of them are these bacteria that are feeding each other electricity. And because they’re actually feeding each other electricity they produce a lot of the methane. So if we know how to give the cow the right type of food so you select not the electric bacteria but if you give them some vitamin supplements to select other bacteria you won’t get this interaction through electricity, you won’t get your methane and we won’t get our greenhouse gases.

And further to that if you actually want more methane then what you can do is actually promote the bacteria because there’s a lot of industrial processes to get rid of waste that convert it in these big vats using bacteria to produce methane. So if you have a lot of organics, if you have some type of food processing plant, if you have something that has a lot of waste, that waste you don’t want to put into our riverstream ‘cause you’re going to harm the environment, what you can do is actually promote these bacteria, get their electrical connections better and they’ll actually improve at getting rid of your waste, giving you methane which you can use as an energy source.

So in summary what we’re able to do with our lab is … in my lab … is able to take bacteria that can breathe metals and end up with ways to stop cows from actually giving out methane.

This interview has transcribed directly from a podcast thanks to La Trobe University and the IEEE Student Branch. The article has been edited by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief.

The Nepal Earthquakes: Engineering, Volunteering and Technology

It’s 11:56am on Saturday 25th April 2015, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook Nepal from within and brought the landmark Dharahara Tower to rubble within seconds. So many of us, oblivious to the aftermath of such a powerful earthquake went about our daily lives, giving no thought to one of nature’s most disastrous events, killing more than 8,800 people, injuring another 23,000 and resulting in hundreds of thousands homeless. With this article, we intend to bring your attention to Nepal and the measures taken and those currently underway to comfort, relieve and reassure all those who were affected.

Nepal lies completely within the collision zone of the Himalayan arc which is formed as a result of collision between the Indian Subcontinent and Eurasia tectonic plates. This makes it an earthquake prone region and statistics have shown that on average Nepal will be subject to a major earthquake every 70 to 80 years. Experts say that the 1934 Earthquake is connected to the 2015 Earthquake following a historic earthquake pattern. In 2015 alone, 147 earthquakes of magnitude greater than 1.5 rocked Nepal of which the most disastrous was the one that took place on 25 April 2015. The Gorkha Earthquake, as it is now commonly referred to, had an intensity classified IX – Violent with the epicentre east of Lamjung and the depth of hypocentre being approximately 15km.

In a desperate attempt to help, many Chinese companies extended a helping hand. Chen Tiegang, Director of the Nepal Branch of Shanghai Construction Group lent the company’s premises to people who had lost their homes and loved ones. Three on-site engineers joined rescue efforts by using the company’s crane, forklift truck and excavator to rescue people buried in the rubble. The company became an instant de facto relief shelter providing food, tents and variety of other supplies. Within 48 hours, 650 pounds of rice and 550 pounds of flour was delivered to those affected. Where one would have thought that the usage of construction technology could be only limited to its building functions, its use in relief operations in Nepal resulted in saving thousands of lives.

ZTE Corporation, a global leader of telecommunications equipment and network solutions has operations in 160 countries around the world. The CEO and CTO of South Asia Business Development Office, Mr. Xu and Mr. Zong respectively, de-toured a business trip and assisted with the purchase and transfer of 10 tents and 50 kilograms of food to Nepal. ZTE devised an emergency logistics team which distributed supplies and assembled petrol for electrical purposes. ZTE also set up a special task force of 60 engineers to provide 24-hours on-the-ground emergency support to maintain telecommunication services throughout Nepal. Telecommunication services are of utmost importance in the event of natural disasters to enable the smooth working of relief operations.

ZTE Logistics and 24-hours On-the-site Emergency team of Engineers and ZTE Relief Supplies

The taskforce repaired and restored 400 ZTE Mobile Base Stations that were damaged in the aftermath of the Gorkha Earthquake. In order to adequately assess the magnitude of the asset damage, the team prepared a database of the base stations in the surrounding areas. Each base station was assessed and reviewed before the findings were input into the running spreadsheet.  This enabled the repair works to be methodical and efficient in this time of need.

NASA’s novel technology called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) was also used for the very first time in a real-time scenario to aid relief operations in Nepal. The FINDER, powered by a Lithium battery can detect subtle movements like the movement of skin due a heartbeat by emitting low power microwaves. The waves can penetrate up to 9m into mould rubble and 6m into concrete, thereby being extremely useful in the locating of four men trapped under 10m of rubble from two separate buildings in Nepal.

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NASA’s FINDER Technology used in Nepal for Rescue Operations

Google and Facebook did not hesitate to lend a helping hand with their online web based tools, ‘Person Finder’ and ‘Safety Check’. Person Finder is Google’s missing person’s tracker which activated when Gorkha hit Nepal. Information can be submitted about people in the earthquake zone indicating their safety status. This creates the database from which people all around the world can then look for missing persons or find out the safety of a friend or family member.

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Google’s Person Finder feature activated to aid in finding missing persons following the Gorkha Earthquake

Facebook’s Safety Check feature asks its users to let their network know if they are safe. When Facebook turned on this feature, it determined the users who were in the disaster area from inputted profile and personal information. People outside the disaster area could check whether their friends and family members were safe depending on their safety status.pic6

Facebook’s Safety Check Feature activated during Gorkha Earthquake to aid Rescue Operations

IEEE’s Kerala Section in India assisted with the earthquake recovery efforts by sending 100 solar lanterns to provide immediate support. Mr Jayakrishnan MC and Mr Amarnath Raja visited Nepal immediately after the earthquake to assist the IEEE Nepal subsection with the rehabilitation efforts. Volunteers in IEEE Nepal Sub Section partnered with Upper Tamakoshi Hydropower Ltd, Global Himalayan Expedition and IEEE Smart Village. IEEE Smart Village worked with local IEEE volunteers and documented the necessities needed to re-build Nepal towards prosperity.pic7

100 Solar Lanterns donated by IEEE Kerala Section for immediate relief in Nepal

It is the human tendency or being human as we call it, that when we are threatened as a species, we fight back and we fight to win. That is why we have influentially shaped this planet for over 200,000 years and it is this that unites us in times of distress. Gorkha in Nepal was no different and we were attacked and we mourned the losses of loved ones. However, we got back up and united we stood strong to build our lives yet again.

May all the good forces be with you Nepal!

The IEEE Young Professionals team would like to thank Bimlesh Ranjitkar and Abhimanyu Pandey for their contributions to this article.

The article has been edited by Michael Gough and Sneha Kangralkar, Assistant Editors

Entrepreneurship: Startup Weekend in Chennai

Ever wondered what it takes to be an entrepreneur? The professional and personal challenges, the high and lows, the failures and the success?

Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014. Today we speak to Mr. Nivas Ravichandran, an IEEE volunteer at heart of this program.

Big Picture

Nivas, tell us a little about yourself and your IEEE involvement.

I am Nivas Ravichandran and I work as a Growth Specialist at a startup called Frilp. I have been an IEEE Volunteer for the past 6 years and have organized more than 150+ events under IEEE. I belong to IEEE Madras Section and I volunteer with IEEE Region 10 as a member of the Electronics Communication and Information Management (ECIM) committee. I am also a part of the IEEE India Strategic Initiative in the Entrepreneurship Wing to foster Entrepreneurship amongst IEEE members across India. I am very passionate towards IEEE and love to give back to the society. A Social Media savvy person too.

Mr. Nivas Ravichandran

Mr. Nivas Ravichandran, IEEE Young Professional driving Entrepreneurship

What is Startup Weekend Chennai, how did it come about and what role does an IEEE volunteer such as you play in this?

Startup Weekend is a three day event during which groups of developers, business folks, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists, aspiring entrepreneurs and many others pitch ideas for new products, form teams around those ideas, and work to develop a working prototype, demo, or presentation by the evening of the third day. Startup Weekend Chennai was started in 2014 and this is the 4th Edition with a specific focus theme on Finance Technology. Finance Technology encompasses organizations and applications that provide financial services through the engagement of technology. During the three days, ideas were validated, user research was conducted and a minimum viable product was built over a period of 54 hours.  I was an organizer of the Startup Weekend Chennai and IEEE Madras Section Young Professionals also partnered with Startup Weekend Chennai to help reach out to Students and Young Professionals across cities. IEEE members were provided an exclusive discount to be a part of the event.

Demo Pitch 1

Whether entrepreneurs found companies, find a cofounder, meet someone new, or learn a skill far outside their usual 9-to-5, everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.

Who are the participants of the startup weekend? 

The participants comprised predominantly of three categories – Hustlers (Business folks), Hackers and Designers. There were 110 participants from industry and academia from various parts of India in the age group of 17 – 55. It must be said that a majority of them were in their the early 20s. In total we had 36 Pitches and 15 Teams formed during the FinTech Edition.

Who are the mentors and coaches in the program? Can you highlight a few of the key personnel?

The program had 7 mentors, 2 speakers and 5 judges for the event. The mentors included Ashwini Asokan (CEO, Mad Street Den – An Artificial Intelligence and Computer Vision based Startup), Deepak Natarajan (AVP Growth, Freecharge – An Online Recharge Application), Vijay Babu (Founder – India Operations, Altiscale), Krish Subramanian (Co-Founder & CEO, Chargebee Subscription Billing), Alladi Ram, CR Venkatesh & Ramanathan RV. As it is a Hackathon format of an event, there were not many speaker sessions. We hosted 2 lightning talks from Harshal Deo (VP Data Technology – Paypal) and Anupam Pahuja (GM APAC Technology Paypal). The judges comprised of senior folk in the FinTech space from Chennai and a few Angel Investors.

Interaction and Mentoring

Interaction and Mentoring

Can you tell us about some of most impressive ideas you have had a chance to hear about this weekend? 

There were 36 ideas pitched out of which 15 were short listed based on voting by the participants. A few of the interesting ideas were

  • PaysnapA system that optimizes your online transactions while maximizing returns
  • Loan SenseHelps monitor your loans against new loan schemes in financial market
  • SmartpayAn app that enables local merchant who do micro transactions to accept digital payments
  • PrepayRA platform to help SMEs sell their Account Receivables to Banks and increase profits.

Demo Pitch 2

The IEEE Young Professionals group has started to focus on Entrepreneurship as one of its key projects. In your view how can the IEEE Young Professionals help IEEE members with entrepreneurship?

I believe it is the right time for IEEE Young Professionals to start focusing on Entrepreneurship. IEEE YP could play a very crucial role in encouraging IEEE Student and other members to pursue Entrepreneurship. We could organize Section Level or Country Level meet-ups, talks and Hackathons for members to come up with ideas, interact and find the right talent to form teams. If we start setting the stage for young professionals to meet and share ideas in the right platforms we could automatically foster Entrepreneurship among the members. In India (Under the IEEE India Strategic Initiative), we are also working on an Entrepreneurship Development Program, which prepares IEEE Student and Young Professional Members across multiple cities. We recently piloted the program in one of the cities and had an amazing response and reach. In a few months, we are expected to launch the same program across multiple cities in India.

Ideation and Validation

Ideation and Validation

The IEEE GOLDRush team thanks Nivas Ravichandran for his contribution to today’s article which should serve as an inspiration to all IEEE members. We look forward to hearing more about the great ideas and initiatives as a result of the startup weekend.

Interview conducted by Dr. Eddie Custovic, Editor-in-Chief, GOLDRush

How ‘WorldServe Education’ is Transforming Lives Daily

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi. Mr Rupanagudi and his team have worked tirelessly to help develop ‘WorldServe Education’, helping students and providing quality education to those around the world. WorldServe Education also caters to the worlds of research, design and development, particularly in the fields of FPGA Design, Image Processing and Web Design and Development.

1. Briefly tell us about yourself;

My name is Mr. Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi, founder and Managing Director of WorldServe Education, Bengaluru, India. I completed my education in Electronics and Communication from Atria Institute of Technology, Bengaluru in 2006 and found an extreme liking toward communication and the world of FPGA’s during my Bachelor’s degree. In order to further pursue my dream, I moved to Sweden and completed my Masters in System on Chip at LTH where I majored in Communications and developed a low power decoder for wireless communication systems. Upon completion in 2008 and arriving back to India, I joined the Indian Institute of Science as a Research associate in the ECE department. Within this department my major role twas to work on baseband architectures for Wireless Sensor Networks on FPGA. It was during this time, over numerous coffee sessions with my like minded friend and co-founder – Miss. Ranjani B. S., we realized that there was a huge vacuum in India for students to turn their technological dreams into reality. The question of “Why not create an organization, wherein a student having an idea can just walk in, discuss and turn his/her idea into actuality with the help of guidance from highly experienced individuals?” sprung into our minds and thus WorldServe was born.

Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi - Founder and Managing Director, WorldServe Education gives a lecture on advancements in Image Processing

Sudhir Rao Rupanagudi – Founder and Managing Director, WorldServe Education gives a lecture on advancements in Image Processing

2. What is WorldServe Education and what inspired you to develop this concept?

As I mentioned earlier, WorldServe Education is an organization with a sole intent of guiding students and people who want to learn new things, innovate and create technologies to make a difference to the world. We started off in 2008 with just six students, and after that there was no turning back! Currently, we have catered to more than 1000 students worldwide, teaming up with them and innovating more than 100 projects related to humanitarian causes, agriculture and lifestyle.

I feel the main inspiration to start this organization are the very students themselves! They come to us with a varying multitude of ideas – from low cost automated conveyor belts (in order to segregate produce for the farmers of India) to humanitarian based concepts such as automated Braille to English converters… It’s amazing to see young innovators in each and every one of them and moulding them brings great joy to us at the end of the day.

Our various students at work and showcasing their projects

Our various students at work and showcasing their projects

3. What are some of the key achievement of WorldServe today? Can you give us examples of how your work has affected others?

I guess the major achievement of our organization is the fact that our students have been able to prototype their project ideas at such low costs! For instance, a project of ours wherein a patient suffering from motor neuron disease can communicate through blinks or move a wheelchair with just his eye gaze, has been designed for approximately $100 The students, who have developed this prototype, could then later market their product and this in turn would be an economically viable solution to people, especially in developing countries.

Apart from this, WorldServe has also been effective in providing several job opportunities for our students both inside our organization and also outside. A fine example of this would be our Senior Research Associate – Ms. Varsha G Bhat, who started off as a student two years ago and has now completed guiding more than 100 students at our organization. It’s very encouraging when students call us back, after their course, with a good job offer or a word of recognition from a University abroad, for their project.

The team of WorldServe at work

The team of WorldServe at work

4. How has the IEEE influenced you career path and what you have achieved?

Come to think of it, if I plot a timeline of WorldServe Education’s growth from what it was in 2009 to what it is in 2015, we would be able to see IEEE in that timeline at every major juncture! I feel one of the main motivational factors for our students to complete their projects has been the IEEE. Writing a conference paper, submitting it to an IEEE sponsored conference and finally seeing it enlist on the IEEExplore website has been a thrilling experience for all our students. To date we have around 14 papers enlisted over on the webpage. Apart from that, I am proud to state that our projects were shortlisted twice, once in 2013 and again in 2014, for the IEEE Humanitarian challenge – a competition held every year by the IEEE. In 2013, our student group led by Sachin S K went on to win the 3rd Place at the Demo – IT competition held at Hyderabad as part of the AISC – IEEE. It doesn’t end there. IEEE also funded three of our projects last year as part of the “IEEE standards programme”. Three groups utilized various engineering standards in their projects and were very appreciative in receiving this amount.

In this way I could say IEEE has always been a steady support for our work without which we would not be able to probably achieve or reach the heights we have today!

Various students presenting their papers at IEEE conferences. Highlight - Dr. Peter Staecker, President, IEEE with Sachin S K at the Demo - IT competition, Hyderabad, India (Bottom row, second from right)

Various students presenting their papers at IEEE conferences. Highlight – Dr. Peter Staecker, President, IEEE with Sachin S K at the Demo – IT competition, Hyderabad, India (Bottom row, second from right)

5. Where do you see WorldServe Education in the next 10 years and do you have anything big planned that you would like to share with our readers?

That’s a very interesting question! I guess our major goal at this point of time would be to expand our services to as many students as possible worldwide. Even though we have a good web presence, a physical presence across the world would assist in catering to them quite easily. In 2012, we were the first to host an International workshop on a major programming software online. We now plan to host similar workshops at several locations around the world. This would be possible with the support of Universities and also sponsoring organizations like the IEEE. We also are on the lookout towards funding agencies or investors who could take this dream further ahead.

Apart from project guidance, WorldServe recently collaborated with the ICTS-TIFR (International Centre of Theoretical Sciences – Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), to develop a video processing based game to understand mathematical functions better. This exhibit was a part of the Mathematics of Planet Earth 2012, Bengaluru and was received with great appreciation. We look forward to developing many such applications in the future as well.

6. Do you have any words of advice for Young Professionals wanting to make a change?

Absolutely! My father always says – “Learn from other’s experience, rather than your own”.  I really feel any young professional who has a great idea and a plan to make a difference to people, should really not think twice in starting up their enterprise. They should have self-belief and take the plunge. Taking my own example, if I look back, I was an introvert, a person who could not face crowds or give a speech on the stage. When I meet my teachers now, they feel “Is this the same guy?” The main reason for this change was self-belief in the idea – “If you gotta do it, you gotta do it”. Another important aspect required to start a movement like ours, is patience! Things will happen eventually but they shall take time. Also, you will meet a whole lot of people during the process of setting up – a few encouraging and a few who might downplay your ideas! Simple solution – DO NOT GIVE UP. Take bad reviews with positivity and see how you can solve them, but if you feel you were not at fault – there’s always that recycle bin! At the end of day make sure you stick to your plan, focus and remember it’s not always about reaching your destination… don’t forget to enjoy the journey!

 I would be extremely happy if people would like join us or give us any advice. Those interested could directly send me a mail to sudhir@worldserve.in, visit our website – www.worldserve.in or find latest information on our programs on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/WorldServe-Education/188151774563301?sk=infoon

Article edited by Michael Gough, Assistant Editor, GOLDRush

 

 

Getting SOCIAL with Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Who is Muhammad Rabeet Sagri?

Muhammad is Young Professionals Chair of Karachi Section and a software engineer at Wavetec.

Mr Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Mr Muhammad Rabeet Sagri

Suggestion – Do you have any suggestions for the IEEE? 

IEEE Educational Activities Board (EAB) is undertaking really exciting projects such as EPICS-In-IEEE, TISP, SIGHT and many more. Yet, most of the IEEE humanitarian activities and its services are executed at Section level. My suggestion is to let the IEEE Student Branches and High Schools (Pre-University) experience the humanitarian challenges more closely and encourage them to participate by providing possible solutions for these challenges. These projects will not only help the students to get involved in humanitarian activities but also become aware of the challenges faced by our local community.

Opinion – Provide an opinion on any IEEE related topic. 

In my opinion, IEEE doesn’t emphasize career development and leadership building sufficiently amongst the membership. As a results of that, IEEE faces a challenge in retaining IEEE Student membership upon graduation. IEEE should focus on developing IEEE Young Professionals, providing services such as career counseling, assisting in getting the right job, conducting more leadership and entrepreneurship workshops etc. These activities help not only to retain IEEE Student members but will provide IEEE members opportunities  to pursue a successful career.

Concern – Express a major concern related to IEEE 

I have a concern that apart from the interaction within the IEEE Section, IEEE is not providing any local benefits to its members which could be materialized. All benefits provided by IEEE are in electronic form, which cannot provide much value to its members in the local area.

Idea – Do you have any great idea for the IEEE? 

IEEE could consider providing some local benefits to its members. This idea emerged from one of the active IEEE student members. The idea of providing local benefits is to provide value to its members. I started working on this idea (named as ‘IEEE Local Benefits’ project) at the platform of IEEE YP Karachi, in which we have corporate partners in the local area joining to provide benefits to our IEEE Karachi Section members, such as discounts on travel and food. This is just an idea to value our IEEE members and this idea can be reflected in other IEEE Sections also.

Advice – What advice can you provide to IEEE or IEEE members? 

IEEE Sections and IEEE Young Professionals groups should provide a platform in bridging the IEEE student branches with corporate organizations. This bridge can be developed in several ways; organizing various study and field trips by students to different companies, arranging tech-talks of professionals at IEEE student branches where they can share their experiences with students and train them, conducting job hunting and other activities that can make the universities interact with the organizations etc. These activities will successfully create a better industry–academia relationship.

Lesson – Describe a lesson you have learnt as a result of the IEEE 

IEEE is always providing me life changing experiences. After joining the IEEE, I was able to interact with other IEEE student branch members. I started sharing ideas, building a great ‘technology’ network with the people having the same passion, striving towards the same goal. IEEE is always helpful when building my professional network. I started making friends within the IEEE Karachi Section and now I have IEEE friends from all over the IEEE Region 10 (Asia Pacific). Thank you IEEE for helping me out in growing my network with professional executives of corporate organizations.

Article edited by Nadee Seneviratne, Junior Assistant Editor, GOLDRush 

Getting SOCIAL with Kavinga Ekanayake

Who is Kavinga Ekanayake?

Kavinga Ekanayake is the Chair of the Sri Lanka Young Professionals Affinity Group and a research assistant at University of Moratuwa.

Kavinga

 

Suggestion – Do you have any suggestions for the IEEE? 

IEEE is a great platform to utilize the skills of bright minds across the world for the betterment of humanity. However, due to lack of awareness, I feel that sometimes these brilliant skills of IEEE volunteers are not fully optimized. If IEEE can devise an effective plan to create awareness about the vast number of opportunities available in the career path from the student branch member level to the IEEE President, both parties will benefit through increased motivation towards IEEE and optimal contribution attracted from the skilled volunteers, while helping their professional development.

Opinion – Provide an opinion on any IEEE related topic. 

IEEE is currently more focused on academia, whereas organizations like IET have more industrial relations. IEEE should focus more on getting the industrial personnel involved to their activities and committees. People should be able to use IEEE as a great platform to bridge the gap between industry and academia which are a bit more separated at the moment, especially in region 10. Academic researches should reach the public through industry in order to advance humanity through technology.

Concern – Express a major concern related to IEEE 

Huge percentage of student members and volunteers of IEEE are not retaining their membership after the graduation and this is a major concern. IEEE should concentrate more on this issue through the entities like Young Professionals groups to retain the members and volunteers with a clear motivation. IEEE Young Professionals is a great platform to bridge the gap between student members and sectional level.

Idea – Do you have any great idea for the IEEE 

Media can play a major role in shaping attitudes of people in any part of the world. I suggest that IEEE should invest more time into IEEE TV and bring it to the level of a satellite channel to reach out to every corner of the world, capturing a wider audience. Investments could be obtained from industrial partnerships, especially from Multinational organizations, allowing their brand to be promoted through this. It will showcase the all the IEEE activities, adding more value to IEEE and volunteers and members could easily learn from each other improving effectiveness of all IEEE activities.

Advice – What advice can you provide to IEEE or IEEE members? 

All IEEE members should try to hold an effective volunteer position as long as they can. IEEE is the greatest platform to develop interpersonal skills such as leadership, management etc. through volunteering. It’s a rare opportunity to create local as well as international connections with a community of higher caliber. Sharing experiences among the people of different regions will help to make the world a much better place to the humanity.

Kavinga 2

Lesson – Describe a lesson you have learnt as a result of the IEEE 

I was attracted to IEEE because of its tagline – “Advancing technology for Humanity”. It helps me to use my skills towards the betterment of humanity, which has been my very own ambition since childhood. I was lagging behind in leadership and public communication skills in earlier days. IEEE helped me a lot to improve leadership  and communication skills through a variety of volunteer positions. One of the greatest aspects is the opportunity to create an international network of friends. I learnt how to deal with different people and different situations. I owe all of this to the IEEE since it has unveiled my true potential.

What is SOCIAL?

Suggestion, Opinion, Concern, Idea, Advice, Lesson (SOCIAL) is a new initiative of the IEEE GOLDRush publication team to connect with Young Professional volunteers world-wide. The SOCIAL questionnaire provides members with a “voice” that can be shared with our entire membership by answering a few simple questions.

Article edited by Nadee Seneviratne, Junior Assistant Editor, GOLDRush 

Pakistan Workshop on Power Electronics with Renewable Integration

The IEEE IIUI Student Branch and Faculty of Engineering & Technology in collaboration with IEEE PES and the IEEE Young Professionals Region 10 organised a national workshop to address a shortage of research in the domain of Power Electronics in Pakistan.

Workshop participants

Workshop participants

Power Electronics and its applications have seen tremendous growth in the last decade all over the world. It is an applied area of Electrical Engineering that deals with efficient Power Processing and has direct applications in many domains of the energy sector. Unfortunately, Pakistan has seen little research and development in this domain due to an outdated research focus. Pakistan still lacks consolidated Power Electronics labs and facilities in universities, industry and defense research. Several national universities of Pakistan are in the early stages of commenced research in this domain. The core objective of research in this field is to reduce the in-system power losses and provide quality power to the consumer.

This workshop was conducted to promote country-wide research and provide a collaborative platform for joint research between academia and industry.

News contributed by Ihtasham Zahid, Chairperson IEEE IIUI Student Branch, International Islamic University Islamabad

 

Spring STEP in Hyderabad

IEEE Young Professionals Hyderabad, in association with the IEEE Student Branch at Vignana Bharathi Institute of Technology (VBIT), conducted their first STEP of the year in March.

The STEP (Student Transition andSTEP in Hyderabad March 2014 Elevation Partnership) program assists student members as they graduate and transition to higher levels of IEEE membership. This session of STEP featured career development talks from the industry leaders, with an emphasis on the benefits of IEEE and the benefits of volunteering.

STEP in Hyderabad March 2014The event was held in the campus auditorium and attracted around 165 participants, making it one of the largest STEP events held in Hyderabad. A majority of the audience (around 90 people) were not IEEE members, offering a ripe opportunity to encourage students to join IEEE.

The event began with a welcome and opening remarks by Preeti Kovvali (IEEE YP Hyderabad Chair) and Sowmya Mekala (IEEE YP Hyderabad Secretary).

This was followed by a presentation from Mr. Aditya Rao of Oracle India on “The power of volunteering and how it makes you a leader.” Mr. Aditya served as Chair of the IEEE Computer Society chapter in Hyderabad Section and is now a part of that chapter’s Membership Development Committee. During his talk, he discussed the importance of volunteering and how a volunteer can enhance his or her career by being part of a professional organization like IEEE. Using examples from his personal experience, he emphasized how volunteering helps a person become a professional and a leader.

STEP in Hyderabad March 2014The second presentation, from Mr. Hari Prasad Devarapalli of Tata Consultancy Services’ Business Systems and Cybernetics Center, was titled “Professionalism.” Mr. Prasad, shared thoughts from his extensive industry and volunteering experience as one of the senior members of the IEEE Hyderabad. He underscored the tremendous, daily effort required for a person to develop and sustain a professional bearing. He also highlighted the advantages of being professional in the workplace, including being in sync with the goals of the company and enhancing one’s ability to set and reach personal goals.

STEP in Hyderabad March 2014Following the presentations, the program transitioned to networking and social activities. Participants were divided into teams and given tasks to be completed in a stipulated time. The students received this quite well, and it turned out to be the highlight of the event.

At the conclusion of the program, we recognized volunteers from the IEEE Hyderabad section to thank them for their outstanding contributions to the section and the IEEE R10 Congress conducted last year.

We are grateful to the volunteersSTEP in Hyderabad March 2014 from the student branch for helping us organize such a wonderful and fruitful event. We would also like to thank Elie Rosen from the IEEE YP STEP team, who has encouraged and supported us in organizing this event. Finally, we would like to thank Ms. Mounika Molagara for her exemplary leadership as the VBIT Student Branch Chair.

STEP in Hyderabad March 2014

Article contributed by Preeti Kovvali, IEEE Hyderabad Section Young Professionals Chair

More photos from the event are posted on Facebook.

Young Scientists From Around the Globe Gather in Singapore

How would you like to pick the brains of thirteen Nobel Laureates, three Fields Medalists, winners of the Millennium Technology Prize, and recipients of IEEE’s own Medal of Honor? In Singapore, at the second installment of the Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS) in January, five hundred attendees were given the opportunity to do just that. Of these attendees, 350 were PhD and postdoctoral researchers under the age of 35 nominated by universities, research institutes, and corporate laboratories around the world, while the remaining 150 were invited guests from Singapore’s tech community.

The GYSS, organized by the National Research Foundation of Singapore, is inspired by the annual Lindau Nobel Meetings but features a greater focus on participation from the Asia-Pacific region. Singaporeans comprise 19% of the participants, Asians and Australians 47%, the US and Europe 20%, and researchers from multinational corporations make up the remaining 13%.

The theme of the Summit was “Advancing Science and Creating Technologies for a Better World” and the speakers discussed a wide variety of topics, including biochemistry, physics, medicine, mathematics, and engineering. Some told stories of the discoveries they were most recognized for, while others shared their latest research. With some of the lectures making deep dives into specialized disciplines, sometimes it was a challenge to keep up. Notably, the audience members were not shy about asking questions even if they were not experts in the topic at hand.

In one of the talks, IEEE’s 2013 Medal of Honor winner, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, shared his experience transitioning from academic to entrepreneur, first founding Linkabit, then Qualcomm. Qualcomm has grown to prominence as the world’s largest semiconductor supplier for wireless products and for 15 consecutive years was included in Fortune’s list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. Not bad for a company started because he was bored three months into early retirement!

The organizers also held several panel discussions on topics such as challenges in a STEM career, the role of science in society, technology entrepreneurship, and the relationship between science and the arts. Some of these sessions were open to the general public as well.

A design competition called Singapore Challenge was held in conjunction with the GYSS. The participants were invited to submit proposals that addressed challenges related to urban development. The theme of this year’s competition was “From Sensing to Solution: Leveraging ICT to Build Sustainable Cities,” resulting in a grand total of 35 proposals submitted. Among the 10 finalists was IEEE member Jason Gu, whose proposal is an open platform called “the Idea Store” which facilitates contributions from both city planners and residents. The intent is for the platform to integrate raw data sensing, data processing, and big data analytics with built in block programming functionality, so even an average resident without prior programming training would be able to use it.

We spoke to Jason in more detail about his Singapore Challenge proposal and how IEEE has played an important role in his career development so far. This interview will appear in Part 2 of this series in GOLDRush.

To learn more about the GYSS and find out how you might be able to attend in the future, visit the official GYSS website.

To see photos from GYSS 2014, visit the IEEE Region 10 Facebook album.

Article contributed by Helene Fung, Senior Strategy and Business Development Manager, IEEE Singapore