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Editorial: What for, What and Where

The Sem that was!

We are proud to bring to you an all new issue of MEME, our one year
old newsletter. Memes are ideas that, like genes, can replicate. As
reflected in the tag-line, the newsletter follows a philosophy of delivering maximum value to readers via articles that (we work to ensure)
are discussed extensively, researched thoroughly and presented lucidly.
In the present issue, we continue the practice of interviewing alumni
so that their guidance is available to a wider base of juniors. The article on discontinuation of TFE DD aims to bring clarity to the hash surrounding the decision. On similar lines, we have an articles spreading
awareness about URA and projects under professors. Dont forget to
go through a novel article on the importance of basic UG courses. We
also have an exciting article about recent technological developments
in ME.
Any kind of comments, criticism and suggestions about the issue are
more than welcome. So are students who wish to join the team. In
both cases direct your mails to A copy of
the newsletter and archives are available at

Though the Department Council was formed late in April, it started

working right away with the organization of the Department Valedictory function and the passing out Sweat Shirts. This semester our
council faced a very awkward situation in the beginning with the absence of the PG nominee, Alumni Secy, and MEA Secy. The first and
foremost thing to do was to hold elections for these posts along with
the DPN, PT nom and CR elections.
The Freshie Welcome for UGs and PGs were successfully organized
separately with almost all the 120 UG freshies turning up for the
event. The council has taken a new initiative of making MEA membership cards. The card will be used to obtain the benefits of being a MEA
member. The same are being finalized and will be announced.
The Department Trek to Naneghat was successfully organized with a
huge participation from the freshies and sophies. Some pics of the
same have been uploaded on the MEA website. Just before Diwali, a
new Web Secy was nominated from 6 candidates after interviews.
The department Apping Database has been made which will soon be

- Miheer Desai
Chief Editor

- Prashant Kumar

Too Hot to Handle?

One of the most discussed developments in
the ME department this semester has been
the TFE discontinuation saga. Prima facie,
the move is seen to be biased and at loggerheads with the institute directive extending
the duration of DDP to promote research by
UGs. But is it?
There have been rumours about the TFE
(Thermal and Fluids Engg) specialisation
being scrapped completely and that
students entering through the JEE have only
two options for pursuing the Dual Degree
program, namely, CADA (Computer Aided
Design & Automation) and CIM (Computer
Integrated Manufacturing).
Earlier, students could choose to specialise
in Thermal and Fluids Engineering during
the JEE counselling procedure itself.
Students qualifying the JEE after 2008 have
two options (CADA and CIM) during
counselling and the TFE option wont be
available to them then. Instead, they can
choose the TFE division after the second
year. Thus, only the mode of entry has been
altered, the DD TFE program still does exist,
contrary to the rumours. The 15 odd seats
of the TFE program have now been
transferred to the B.Tech Program.
We spoke with Prof. B.Puranik, who himself
specialises in TFE, to clear the air about the
whole issue. Many TFE Dual degree students
from the current third year batch (i.e. those
who entered through JEE

2007) got their specialisation changed to

either CADA or CIM. So was it due to this
trend that this decision was taken? Prof.
Puranik replied that this was not the case
as the decision was taken in early 2009,
much before these specialisation changes
actually happened. He attributed the
decision mainly to the declining interest
and motivation in the students. It appears
that the students started finding TFE a
lesser exciting option than either CADA or
CIM. Many students were disappointed
with the fact that they were being forced
to do something which they were not
interested in. Thus the department
deemed it would be better to do away
with a system which no longer interests
the students. In the current scenario, only
if a student is sufficiently motivated
would he choose the TFE specialisation.
Another advantage of the present system
is the fact that the student would be able
to decide better after he/she is exposed
to some basic courses in the first 2 years
than during the counselling procedure
where he/she has practically no
knowledge of what the TFE program has
got to offer.
Now considering the fact that the TFE
seats have been transferred to the B.Tech
program, would we see more emphasis
on TFE in the B.Tech curriculum? Prof.
Puranik answered that in fact the
opposite has happened. The new B.Tech

curriculum would have lesser TFE courses

and this trend is evident from the JEE 2007
batch that has lesser TFE courses than their
seniors. When asked whether this move
would affect research output from TFE,
Prof. Puranik replied that majority of the
research is contributed by the PhD and
M.Tech students. He frankly added that the
research quality of the DD students was
quite poor and that this was clearly
reflected in their masters dissertation.
So would the old system ever come back? It
currently seems that the only if a sufficient
number of students show interest would
they be able to make a foray into the TFE
specialisation. And only if this interest is
sustained by a few batches after that can
the old system ever make a comeback.
However, the new system is quite flexible
and offers students the ideal platform to
make an informed decision. And above all it
gives them the freedom to go as per their
interests instead of being forced to do
something which they are not
interested in.

Ashwin Krishnan
3rd year B.Tech

The Road Less Travelled...

Rohit Kumar is a 2007 DD CADA batch pass out. After working at BCG
for two years, he shifted to PRS India. He is currently preparing for
UPSC 2010.
What is your Role & Work Profile in PRS?
PRS is a Legislative Research Firm. I am working in a small team
comprising 8-9 people. I joined PRS 3 months back. We provide input
on various matters of national importance for MPs so that they can
raise these issues in Parliament and have debates. We also track
performances of MPs and how much does each MP participate in
You quit working at BCG and chose civil services as a career option.
What was the motivation?
I am not interested in a business oriented career. I prefer a work
involving Judgement and Decision making. In India generally even if a
policy is introduced, its implementation is not ensured. I wanted to be
in a position where I could contribute to policy-making as well as its
implementation and bridge this gap. So I decided to join PRS where
such an option existed.
Given your busy schedule at PRS, how do you find time for your studies. How different is it compared to JEE where we used to study for the
whole day?
The way we studied for JEE got really boring sometimes unlike for
UPSC. And at PRS I get to know lot of useful things which are quite
helpful in my preparation. I study in whatever free time I get.
In what ways do you find preparation for UPSC different particularly
with respect to the stuff we studied at IIT?
Syllabus for UPSC is very vast. In IIT generally we had some 2-3 text
books for a subject. For UPSC you've got to have very vast knowledge in
various topics.But you have many options too. You should know what's
going on around you. UPSC generally focuses on things of National
Does engineering background, particularly being an IITian, help in
preparation for UPSC? You also were the GSAA while in IIT. Does that
help you?
IIT generally makes you good at picking up stuff. So you gain a lot if you
utilise your time in IIT well and interact with a smart bunch of people.
Being GSAA was one of my best decisions while in IIT. It taught me how
to get things done and I liked it as it involved administration and policy
In your opinion, what key skills are required for succeeding as an IAS
I think I am not the right person to answer this question. Basically the
need is for people with very wide understanding.
Any message for us?
Utilize your time in IIT well and along with studies try to
learn other stuff too.
Interview by Shrikrishna Kotkar,
3rd year DD CIM (

They Said It!

...And The Road Self-Paved

Simit Pradhan is a 2009 DD CADA batch pass out.
Tell us something about the start up.
SEDEMAC Mechatronics is a start up by Prof. S. Suryanarayanan. It
provides mechatronic solutions to the automobile sector. We replace
or add to the existing mechanical parts which improves the efficiencies
manifold. For example, currently the work I am doing involves actually
sitting in front of the engine and tuning the system with the help of an
electric governor to achieve a good speed control system for the
vehicle. The work is entirely practical.
What prompted you to seek a job in a start-up (leaving out other
lucrative opportunities you may have had) ?
Initially, I wanted to do a regular job. I got an offer from General
Motors India but my joining date was in January '10. So in the interim
period to keep myself occupied, I joined SEDEMAC. General Motors US
went bankrupt and most of the employees of the India branch were
relocated to the US branch and there were very few left in India to
supervise new recruits. So I decided to continue with the start up as I
liked the independence in the work environment. Had General Motors
US not gone bankrupt, I probably would have joined the India office at
that time, but in hindsight it would have still been a good decision to
work in the start up.
What is the scope for start ups as a career option in the present day?
How do you justify the hype around start ups?
Presently, there are a lot of start ups coming up and most of them are
flourishing. Usually, what holds people back from working in start ups
is the job security in regular jobs in big banner firms. But with the
recent recession, that benefit vanished and so start up firms as a
career opportunity have gained a lot of attention from fresh
graduates. Again, the opportunity and support we as IITians get when
we venture out into small firms is huge. This also facilitates for more
amongst us considering start ups as a career option.
How difficult was it to manage sustainability in economic
downturns? What are the future plans as the economy is reviving?
The current recession affected finance firms the most. The core
technical companies were least affected. Some in fact were even
benefited. So we did not have any issues about sustainability which
probably is was the reason start ups were pursued even more.
How much of Mechanical Engineering is involved in what you are
doing? How useful were the courses?
A lot. The only difference is that the UG courses we did were mostly
theoretical and every course did not have a supplementary practical
exposure. The work we do here involves the practical aspect of
everything we have studied. But the courses have proved to be
relevant. I can feel all that I studied coming back to me.
How do salaries in start ups compare with the regular jobs?
It depends. IT start ups usually need low capitals and the salaries may
not be as high as the usual jobs. But technology start ups invite high
investments and one can earn almost as much as on a regular job. In
fact, sometimes the investments may be high enough and you may
start earning before your company even breaks even.
How different is working in a start-up as compared to other setups?
What should one know before deciding?
It varies usually but there is a lot of independence in the work culture.
My work is primarily deadline oriented. I do not essentially punch in at
9 and punch out at 5 everyday as long as I get my work done within
the deadline. Also, the hierarchy is flat; you directly report to the
Director of the firm. If you wish to follow your ideas, to a large extent,
you are free to do so. Unlike seeing the tip of the iceberg in a regular
firm, here you get to see the complete picture and details of the
project you are working on. Consequently, you learn a lot of cross
disciplinary stuff as well. So, if an independent work
culture and the opportunity for learning motivates you,
start ups are the right choice for you.
Interview by Ankur Tulsian, 3rd year B.Tech

Theory of Basics
We often criticize UG courses as being too
theoretical, unnecessarily intricate and evade
studying asking, Whats the use? A student
answers the hitherto rhetorical question.
Just as atoms are the building blocks of
nature (before the discovery of subatomic
particles), these basic courses can also be
rightly attributed as being the building blocks
of a research career. To take on more
advanced courses like Systems and Control
Engineering, Operations Research, Numerical
Analysis and Computations requires a basic
understanding of Linear Algebra. To
understand turbulent flow in aviation or
waves, one must have an understanding of
the momentum equation or the so called
Lagrangian and Eulerian forms of the
equations for laminar flow (Basic Fluid
Mechanics). To design a refrigeration system,
a basic understanding of enthalpy and work is
required (Basic Thermodynamics). To refine a
fin-cooling system, one must have a grasp of
the concept of the pin fin (Basic Heat
Transfer). Thus, a sound understanding of the
basic courses is a prerequisite not only for a
research but also a core engineering career or
an industrial technical job. Moreover, with
each new concept, a new vista of exploration
is opened.
A discussion with one of our FSAE team
members shed light on the following peculiar
fact: Basic courses help explain and correct

mistakes or atleast give a physical feel of

the problem at hand. Higher concepts can be
understood only by a loose concatenation of
basic concepts in a special order. Needless to
say, history bears testimony to the fact that
majority of advances in science have been a
result of criticizing and questioning the basic
concepts. Einstein questioned the basic
tenets of gravity and speed of light to come
up with his revolutionary theory. Quantum
Mechanics was born out of reflection on the
nature of occurrence of an event. A more
recent example is that of the development of
nano-fluidics, where assumptions like
continuum hypothesis and Knudsen number
are constantly under the radar and the key to
get a handle on these problems lies in
understanding the basic notion of mean free
It turns out that a understanding of basics can
also be life saving. The eminent engineer Sir
M Visweswarayya was once travelling by a
train. As the legend goes, he suddenly pulled
the chain and forced the train to a halt. The
authorities were astounded when he
explained that the track ahead had a fishplate
missing- which turned out to be the case a
few hundred meters ahead. This begs the
question, how could he discern the fault in
the line? Different structures produce
different sounds as they vibrate at different
frequencies. This simple funda probably
saved a lot of lives that day.

Basics get incorporated into our common

One may say, all this is fine but what is the
material gain of doing basic courses? The
answer is in the placement season statistics.
Indeed, people with greater understanding of
the fundamentals experience greater success
in job interviews. Armed with the basic
concepts and the confidence derived from it,
the interviewee can practically answer all
technical questions in an interview. This
indicates a higher probability of getting your
hands on a decent job.
Thus, we have seen the various advantages of
doing basic courses as a part of the
curriculum. However, a last word of advice each of these subjects deserves necessary
attention in its own right. After all, every
subject is to itself, it does not require
somebodys acceptance and recognition. It is
our loss if these courses are not treated with
the respect they demand. Doing these
courses would be better in the long run, even
though they may give some of you
nightmares. The effort is totally worth it or
one would pass out as a failure of an

Preyas Shah
4 year B.Tech

Mechanical Mobile Phone ?!

the jerks and movement cause
this piece to move back and forth
inside the watch.

13th & 14th March 2009

Whats Different this time?

For starters, the whole festival has been divided into 4 different
departments - Thermal & Fluids, Manufacturing, Mechanical Design
and Automotive Engineering. Each of these departments will host
specific on the-spot events, trivia quizzes, exhibits of latest products
in the market as well as student research projects.
A common discontent among the educated society is that As premier
tech institutes of the country, how much have IITs contributed towards
R&D? Or are IITs just manufacturers of state-of-the-art employees for
MNCs and Banking Firms? As a firm reply to this accusation, we bring
to you a chance to get first-hand insight into Technopreneurship and
technological start-ups through an interactive panel discussion with
entrepreneurs who have been there, done that, having benefited from
the TePP programme of the Department of Science and Industrial
Research (DSIR), Govt of India. Besides that, our flagship events: Vaigyaniki and IDP are bigger than ever.
Last but definitely not the least, we bring you an arsenal of exquisite
workshops and lectures by eminent personalities to fire your
enthusiasm in the state-of-the-art and need-of-the-hour technologies.
Lots more in store in this edition of Radiance. Be there!!
Arjun Mewara
Events Manager,

The Ulysse Nardin Chairman

Smartphone, is the first phone
that can truly be called a hybrid
of a high-tech mobile phone and
a high-mech automatic watch.
Tthe phone has a battery that is
charged both by electricity and
by the kinetic energy of a
working rotor.
In the picture of the back of the
piece can be seen a semi-circular
metal piece that is the heart of a
self-winding watch. Relatively
speaking, this semi-circular piece
is fairly heavy, and it is therefore
affected by gravity. As you move
the phone, this piece will move
so that it is always pointed
toward the ground. As you walk,

The piece is attached to a gear

train that gears it way down. In
self winding watches this
movement winds a spring while
in this case the energy is
transformed to charge a specially
designed battery. While the
amount of charging obtained this
way is not by itself sufficient to
keep the piece going for long a
time ,it is good enough to give it
that extra bit. The phone also has
a screw-mounted crown on the
side to manually wind the rotor
for extra battery power.
Needless to say, the technology
and precision engineering used
in manufacturing the phone can
have high impact repercussions
on the low cost mobile market if
it could be used to replace the
electric battery.

-Abhishek Lal
2nd year B.Tech

Job Opportunities!
In an attempt to bridge the information gap between students and professors, we bring you a list of projects for which professors currently require students.
Prof. U.N. Gaitonde
1. Fluid dynamics of filling and emptying bottles [seminar]
2. Modeling of fluid flow over a range of Knudsen numbers [seminar]
3. Dynamics/modeling of power plant / thermal system components
4. Analysis of solution procedures for solving heat transfer problems
5. Creation of TLP-ware for courses in thermal engineering
6. Steam-injected gas turbines [seminar]
7. Turbines with mixed working fluids [seminar]
8. Heat transfer problems in solar thermal systems [project]
Note: These are not just different projects. 1 and 2 may be completed
by a single student, and if the job is well done, may not be repeated. 3,
4, and 5 are themes, and a number of projects will come out of these some in parallel, some in series. 1 to 4 can be part of a student's academic programme, but 5 will not be.
Prof. S.K. Maiti
Absolutely enthusiastic about taking students with a flair in any discipline of Solid Mechanics. Depending on the aptitude and talent of the
student, he will offer a wide array of topics, and guide them through
the project.
His projects will be spread over two periods. Students will be expected
to do all the ground study and get acquainted with the project requirements during December. Then the constructive work will take place

during the Summer. If the quality of work is good, students might also
expect a URA, an added bonus!
Prof. S.S. Pande:
Topic: 'Voice based robot control'
It can be taken as a URA project during the Spring (Jan-April 2010) semester. The project will involve software development to control robot
with voice as the input. Good proficiency in programming using C++ [or
VB] will be required. CPI: minimum 8.
Prof. B Ravi
Topic: Web based simulation.
Students having a real flair for Web programming have a golden opportunity with him. He says he is willing to take two students. But he insists
on two criteria for selection (for both 2nd and 3rd Year students):
1. The student must have good web programming background (That
does not mean making web pages with Dreamweaver!)
2. The motivation level of the student must be high (He should not
give up half way through)
Interested students must contact him right now, and get started as
soon as possible.
Prof. Jayendran Venkateshwaran (IEOR)
He is willing to take students both of second and third years. But he
insists that they must be serious workers, and not give up half way
through. Enthusiastic students may approach him any time.

URA - Undergraduate Research Award

One of the changes in the new UG Rulebook
released was pertaining to the Undergraduate
Research Award(URA) Programme replacing
the earlier UROP(UG Research Oppurtunity)
Programme. Here we look at some of the
salient features of the current URA Programme
and how it has evolved from UROP.
URA as well as UROP is designed for UG
students who have an inclination towards
In URA, the rigid structure of UROP has been
done away with and a mutual understanding
between the professor and student/s has been
given importance. I initially approached Prof.
Joshi from the Mechanical Department as he
supervises the Machine Tools Lab where I
wanted to do a project. He assigned me a
project which I completed along with
publishing a paper .The professor informed the
Acad Office of my performance and based on
that the URA was awarded to me. It was that
simple. No paperwork and no formalities
involved.says Ojas Patil, a 3rd Year DD
URA as well as UROP actually consists of 3
levels. The URA we are familiar of is known as
URA01.There are 2 other levels URA02 and
URA03. While UROP level 2 and 3 stressed on
treating final year projects as research projects
worthy of being published as a paper or
journal, URA02 and URA03 concentrate on
honouring exceptional BTPs and DDPs. UROP
level 2 and 3 only recognised final year
projects as research

projects. Failing to secure UROP2 or 3 meant

that the project was treated as a normal
degree project and nothing else.
On the other hand, URA02 and URA03 are
awarded to those students who display
exceptional work in their BTPs and DDPs
respectively. This can be seen as analogous to
an AP grade for courses. According to the
rules, if the B.Tech/DDP evaluation committee
feels that the student has done exceptionally
well in the project they can forward the project
to be reviewed by 2 other independent
professors. A joint approval results in
URA02/03 being awarded OVER and ABOVE
the AA grade for the credit project. Hence, on
being awarded a URA02 or URA03 a student
earns extra 6 credits with a AA grade which
improves the CPI. The revised criterion for the
2nd and 3rd stages also entails a very
important point. While UROP levels 2 and 3
was NOT ALLOWED for DDs, URA03 can be
seen as an exclusive award programme made
for Dual Degree students.
The URA program is ideal for first and second
year students as their courses are usually
devoid of projects. The URA program opens up
a window of opportunities for UGs to explore
and that too, on home turf.

-Mayur Srinivasan
3rd year B.Tech

John Joy
2 Year B.Tech

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The Team
Chief Editor: Miheer Desai
Abhishek Lal
Aishwarya Sharma
Akvil Sakhare
Ankur Tulsian
Antariksh Bothale
Anubhav Jain
Arvind Krishna
Ashwin Krishnan
Ashwin Raghavan
Gautam Salhotra
Jai Methani
John Joy
Kishor Nayar
Mayur Srinivasan
Nishanth Parlapalli
Prashant Kumar
Preyas Shah
Prudhvi Teja
Shivangi Joshi
Shrikrishna Kotkar
Vibhanshu Malpani