Amidst the quarantine, students of SRM AP and members of NEXT TECH LAB, have exhibited their expertise in HACKNITR, a national level hackathon organized by NIT Rourkela on 21-22 March 2020. The outstanding merit of their project has enabled them to bag the Runner-Up and 2nd Runner-Up position at the hackathon.
Team ASTUTE BOTS, comprising of 1st-year students, Tankala Yuvaraj, Karthikay Gundepudi and Joseph K. Paul, was recognized as the Runner-Up. They used the AI-IoT platform to develop DRONEYES; a prototyped solution that can be used to reduce poaching. It is an aerial reconnoiter which flies in stealth mode and takes the video or photo of a suspected poacher. This is done by the highly trained object detection model called YOLOv3. These eyes not only detect objects on the terra firma but also sends the exact location via GPS. “With the help of cloud technology, we can share the data in real-time so that the user/organization can take the required initiative by locating the exact place of poaching”, explains Karthikay. We were inspired to attend hackathons by Anshuman Pandey, and Next Tech Lab supported this achievement.
Another team PUSH, where Karthik Epperla, 2nd year, and Ishita Agarwal, 1st year, participated, has received the 2nd Runner’s up award. The students worked on an AI-VR-Blockchain based application to help people with autism improve communication, social and other basic abilities required to live in a society. It gives a set of YES/NO questions that are to be answered by either the parent of the child or the adult suffering from Autism and then it matches those answers with the dataset which then returns the level of autism that the child/adult is suffering from. Depending on the level, the user can choose the extremity of VR therapy. When the child goes through the VR session, the parent can view what their child/ adult is doing in the virtual environment using the parent app from anywhere and advise their ward offering extra support to the patient. ” Our application has 3D simulations of real-life situations wherein autistic children/ adults (mostly children) can practice and understand how to behave/react in those situations and overcome their fear while facing a similar situation in real life. “, adds Karthik.
Karthik acknowledges Adithya Ramakrishnan the founder of Next Tech Lab and his lab mate, Lakshmi Vallala for implanting the noble idea that AI can help in the rare medical condition, Autism. They have constantly been in touch with a few special schools and treatment centers to know about the behaviour and nature of autistic people so that they can keep on building different versions of applications.
In the natal stage of their academic career, the students are guided and nurtured in an environment by the Next Tech Lab and the faculty members which inspires them to positively impact the society. The ample exposure offered to the students will not merely encourage them, but also enable them to improve their concepts.
The novel coronavirus has evolved as a pandemic which forced lockdown in many countries including India. The sudden surge in symptomatic cases requires funding for medicines, diagnostic kits, research to develop vaccines, development of medical infrastructure, as well as assisting daily wagers. The entire nation has risen to assist our Indian government to raise funds for the noble cause. In the premise of supporting the government to combat the outbreak, SRM University AP, Andhra Pradesh has offered its support to the government in every way possible.
The contribution of 25 lakhs was handed over to the Hon’ble Education Minister Dr. Adimulam Suresh by Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof. D. Narayana Rao, Director of Campus Life and Maintenance Venkataachalam and Media PRO, Venugopal. In this distressing scenario, all the citizens of India are requested to combat against this pandemic by staying at home and taking adequate preventive measures. Dr. P Sathyanaranan, President of SRM university- AP said, “The COVID-19 Pandemic has created an unprecedented global catastrophe and a national public health emergency. In this crisis, the measures taken by the Government of Andhra Pradesh under the leadership of the Hon’ble Chief Minister to combat the COVID-19, leaving no stones unturned, is commendable.”
Earlier this week on Monday, responding to this calamity, SRM Group donated 1.15 crore on behalf of the employees of the institutes under the umbrella of the group. Dr. TR Paarivendhar, Chancellor, and Member of Parliament transferred the fund to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Public Relief Fund.
SRM AP has commenced online classes to ensure that imparting of knowledge to the students is not hindered by the pandemic. View details here
Dr Sutharsan Govindarajan’s research papers published in “Nature” and “Nature Microbiology”
Dr Sutharsan Govindarajan, Assistant Professor of Biology at SRM University-AP has published two papers in highly reputed journals, “Nature” and “Nature Microbiology”. Both papers involve the discovery of novel strategies used by bacteriophages (viruses that kill bacteria) to overcome the bacterial CRISPR-Cas system, which are molecular scissors that are programmed to cut DNA. His findings have massive implications on the society as it has the ability to reshape the boundaries of the Phage-therapy in curing diseases.
In the paper, “A bacteriophage nucleus-like compartment shields DNA from CRISPR nucleases”, published in ‘Nature’, researchers from the University of California San Francisco, including Dr Sutharsan of SRM University-AP, discovered that certain large bacteriophages called “Jumbophages” are capable of protecting their genetic material (DNA) from being cut by the bacterial CRISPR-Cas system. In nature, the primary function of the CRISPR-Cas system, which is famous for its genome editing applications, is to cut the DNA of bacteriophages. The researchers made a surprising finding that several CRISPR-Cas enzymes were utterly ineffective in cutting the DNA of jumbophages. Subsequent studies led to the finding that these bacteriophages protect their DNA within a protein compartment called as ‘shell’. The shell provides a ‘safe room’ for the phage DNA and keeps antiviral enzymes, including CRISPR-Cas enzymes at bay. It is the first-time researchers have found that bacteriophages, which are essentially viruses, can employ one strategy to protect its DNA from many different immune systems. Dr Sutharsan says, “usually, this kind of sophisticated DNA protection mechanism is employed by complex eukaryotic cells like humans. However, our findings show that viruses, which have evolved billions of years before eukaryotic cells, also seem to be using a similar strategy. This is mind-boggling”, says Dr Sutharsan, “because our finding is making us to rethink about the current understanding of the evolution of cells on Earth.”
In another finding, which is also co-authored by Dr Sutharsan, the researchers have found a different kind of bacteriophage that protects its DNA by ‘turning off’ the production of the CRISPR-Cas enzymes in bacteria. Thus, this bacteriophage employs an entirely different strategy for the same purpose, i.e., protection of its genetic material. The paper “Bacterial alginate regulators and phage homologs repress CRISPR–Cas immunity”, got published in the journal ‘Nature Microbiology’ very recently.
Dr Sutharsan further explained how his research can play a pivotal role in the application of Phage-Therapy, which is a therapeutic strategy where bacteriophages are used to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria and cure patients suffering from difficult-to-treat bacterial infections. Currently, the success rate of phage therapy is low, and researchers are trying to find the reasons behind this. Dr Sutharsan thinks that CRISPR-resistant bacteriophages, which he studies in his lab, can be a game-changer in phage therapy. However, this idea needs to be tested. Towards this goal, he is currently seeking collaborations with clinicians interested in phage therapy.
When asked about his future research plans, Dr Sutharsan says the “Laboratory of phage-bacteria interaction”, which I am going to establish soon at SRM University – AP, will involve in the discovery of new molecular mechanisms employed by phages and bacteria to defend against each other. Such studies have given us’ Restriction enzymes’, which started the ‘era of gene engineering’, and ‘CRISPR-Cas enzymes’, which started the ‘era of genome engineering’. We hope that our lab at the SRM University – AP will make discoveries that can take us beyond genome engineering.
Nature Microbiology- Bacterial alginate regulators and phage homologs repress CRISPR–Cas immunity
Dr Sutharsan Govindarajan- https://srmap.edu.in/faculty/sutharsan-govindarajan/
Dr. Sutharsan Govindarajan receives prestigious INSPIRE Faculty award
Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has awarded Dr. Sutharsan Govindarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, SRM University-AP, the prestigious fellowship “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)”. This initiative provides funds and a platform to potent young achievers for conducting independent research and strengthening the Science & Technology base. Dr. Sutharsan is to receive a total research grant of 35 lakhs for a period of 5 years as a DST-INSPIRE fellow.
Dr. Sutharsan will establish an independent research lab at SRM University, AP, Andhra Pradesh to focus on CRISPR-Cas biology. “CRISPR technology is a powerful tool for editing genomes. It is capable of changing a single base of DNA out of billions of bases. This invention is potent to cure genetic disorders, enunciating its candidature to receive the Nobel Prize in the future.”, informs Dr. Sutharsan.
Dr. Sutharsan’s research work has the potential to nullify the single limitation of the CRISPR technology- ‘off-target’ effects i.e., unintended base changes that affects the accuracy of DNA editing. Through his research titled “Discovery of novel CRISPR-Cas silencing proteins”, he and his team intend to prevent ‘off-targets’ by identifying and characterizing the novel anti-CRISPR proteins that can inhibit in CRISPR-Cas proteins. Dr, Sutharsan believes, “This will improve the efficiency of CRISPR technology which will be highly useful for gene editing technologies, alleviating a wide range of genetic disorders and diseases in the future”.
Football Team of SRM University-AP
There is a famous saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Therefore, here at SRM University-AP, students are always encouraged to go beyond the limits of curricular activities. The Students of SRM-AP have proven to be all-rounders by winning several cups in various segments of different Inter-College Sports Meet. VIT-AP and MVR College of Engineering and Technology have recently organised the Inter College Sports in their respective campuses. Students of SRM-AP merrily participated and successfully bagged winner’s trophy in football and cricket and the runner-up trophy in lawn tennis in Vitopia, Sports Tournament of VIT-AP. They have also secured the winner’s trophy in cricket, and the runner-up trophy in badminton in the Inter-college Sports Championship organised by MVR College of Engineering and Technology.
The football team of SRM-AP was invincible. Their incredible performance throughout the tournament took them straight to the finals where they thrashed VIT-AP, another finalist with a straight 3-0, a resounding victory without any doubt. SRM University-AP team’s captain Ishmael, a 3rd-year Mechanical Engineering student, was able to lead the team successfully. He also turned out to be an ideal strategist. Andrew, another 3rd-year Mechanical Engineering student, sent the ball into the net twice during the match, whereas Venky, 1st-year Computer science and engineering student, supported his team by scoring another goal.
Aiming to Score
Cricket Team with the Trophy
Our cricket team has proven their talent by winning two consecutive champion’s trophy both in VITOPIA and MVR Sports Meet. Jaswanth, a 3rd-year Electronics and Communication Engineering student and the captain of the cricket team, says, “our team has some up-and-coming players. However, at the end of the day, it is the team effort that leads us to success.”
GKV Manikantha hitting the ball
Lawn tennis is another game of hardcore physical strength mixed with ingenious strategies. GKV Manikantha, 1st-year Mechanical Engineering student and a passionate player, won the runner-up trophy at VITOPIA, yet it could not make him happy. He said, “Due to my injury, I could not put up a fight in the finals. I was hurt and therefore had to retire from the game. I am trying to have a speedy recovery and will be back very soon.”
Twelve teams from different colleges participated in the badminton tournament. RK College OF Engineering, Velagapudi Ramakrishna Siddhartha Engineering College, DVR & Dr HS MIC College of Technology, GDMM College of Engineering & Technology were a few among them. Though our team could not secure the first prize, Rathan, a 2nd year CSE student, put up a marvellous fight which brought the university the runner-up trophy.
Cost-effective solution to Global Warming
Renowned publishing house Elsevier is publishing Energy Saving Coating Materials-Design, Process, Implementation and Recent Developments (1st Edition), a book edited by Dr Goutam Kumar Dalapati, Associate Professor, Department of Physics, SRM University- AP and Dr Mohit Sharma, Scientist, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), Singapore. The book is about their collaborative research on Thermal Management with the application of coating materials.
Dr Dalapati, Editor of the book
Countries in tropical and temperate belts such as India, Australia, Middle Eastern and African countries receive most of the sunlight. The heat generation is naturally high in these countries. Studies show that the usage of air-conditioner is also very high in these countries to maintain the desired comfort in both home and office spaces. “Air-conditioners need a huge amount of electricity to be operational. Statistics says, globally, out of hundred units of electricity, almost 35-40 units are used for air-conditioning for either heating or cooling purposes. It also has other drawbacks as it generates air-pollutants which aid in global warming. Our Study in the lab of A*STAR shows that even a one-degree change in the air-conditioner’s temperature settings can save a significant amount of electricity. In our study, we have focused on ways of passive cooling, i.e. how the indoor comfort can be maintained without electricity.” Dr Dalapati said.
Dr Dalapati’s book is about developing new materials and process which can effectively reduce temperature inside the buildings. With a vision of having zero-emission buildings in the future, this book focuses on materials, interactions of these materials with sunlight, and then how these materials can be used productively to reduce the temperature in a building, minimising the thermal budget. His team has proposed different type of materials along with different type of techniques. One of those innovative techniques is, Solar Smart Film, which he has a patent for. When applied on the glass, Solar Smart Film is an effective coating material to block the infra-red radiation, which causes the heat, and it allows the visible light only. When applied on concrete, the coating (cool paint) reduces the heat there too. This smart film can reduce the increment of temperature from 2 to 10 degrees centigrade. The usual product available in the market is silver based, hence highly priced. Dr Dalapati’s team has replaced silver-based products with alternative materials like copper or copper-like materials which are cheap in cost, environmentally stable, non-toxic and can be found easily. The process to develop low cost solar films is also explained in his book.
When asked how the idea of publishing a book came to his mind, Dr Dalapati replied, “At first, we published a 100-page article on a similar topic in Progress in Materials Science, a reputed International Review Journal with an Impact Factor of 23.72. Later we thought of publishing a book because whereas an article’s reach is limited within the researchers only, through a book many more people will come to know about our research and its impact on the well-being of the society. It will help in creating a general awareness among common people as well as young minds like high school and college students will be provided with opportunities for brain-storming.”
Dr Dalapati is currently busy in making his product commercially available. He is also developing apparatus for human applications, which will protect the body from thermal heat waves in summer. A patent application has been filed to the Government of India in this regard. In the Future, he also plans to publish further editions of this book where more complex problems will be discussed.
Cover Page of the Book
DETAILS OF THE BOOK:
Book Title: Energy Saving Coating Materials-Design, Process,
Implementation and Recent Developments (1st Edition)
Editors: Goutam Kumar Dalapati and Mohit Sharma
Paperback ISBN: 9780128221037
Publishing House: Elsevier
Published Date: 1st June 2020
Page Count: 368
Copyright: © Elsevier 2020
Next Tech Lab continue with the winning streak
SRM University AP, Andhra Pradesh equips students to combat adversities and continue to achieve accolades by nurturing their talent and offering them an impetus for growth. Abbas, a third-year CSE student, wins yet another Hackathon at Berkeley. While on his semester abroad program at the University of California, Berkeley, he participated in Hacktech which is Caltech’s premier intercollegiate hackathon. Along with three other team members from Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, and USC, Abbas competed against 450 hackers who identify and build innovative, technological solutions to solve problems in a variety of disciplines. The team was a finalist in the “Best Overall Hack” and won “Best Hack That Gives People a Voice” by Facebook.
Focusing on “Giving People a Voice”, sponsored by Facebook, Abbas, and team coordinated through Git and voice messaging platforms like Discord and Slack as the Hackathon turned into a virtual competition with the unfortunate outbreak of COVID-19.
SRM AP’s Next Tech Lab team have developed MeetMe, that provides a platform to interact with various people across the globe, irrespective of their background. “MeetMe is a platform that is designed to take the user out of their comfort zone and have them meet people quite different from themselves.”, explains Abbas.
When asked about the intention behind developing such an application, Abbas says, “When pandemics like Coronavirus hit, despite millions being fatally impacted, most people face challenges like Xenophobia causing added fear and damage. We felt that we should do our part to help make the world a better place using technology. We came across UNICEF’s 5 things to do to fight xenophobia. It primarily suggests that connecting people across cultural backgrounds can eliminate prejudices against a certain group, community, or race. Hence, we developed MeetMe.”
The team believes, “MeetMe will encourage people to interact with groups that they are unfamiliar with, which helps them to understand their cultures better, leading to communal harmony and mutual understanding. This could be particularly useful in the wake of catastrophes such as Coronavirus that unfortunately cause incorrect opinions pertaining to certain groups. By providing a platform for these in-person gatherings, we are trying to ensure that the attendees get the chance to interact with people from marginalized communities and reduce undesired emotions that they may harbor consciously or unconsciously towards them.”
Prototypes were awarded in ETHDenver International Hackathon
Innovations of SRM University-AP’s Students were acknowledged and rewarded in ETHDenver, an International Conference organised by Ethereum Foundation. Ethereum Foundation is the largest platform for blockchain technology development. In this conference, they arranged for an US Blockchain Technology Hackathon, the biggest challenge on blockchain technology developments and applications. Approximately 2000 students across the world registered for the conference. Students of SRM-AP presented their innovative ideas with prototypes and secured bounty of total $3000 for their projects called URBANBOWL and SECURENOTE. They were also awarded the Community Prize for being on the Top 5. As a part of Global Scholars Programme supported by Ethereum Foundation, the students represented SRM University-AP in the conference.
Urbanbowl partcipants in ETHDenver with Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum
URBANBOWL was developed by Koushik Bhargav, Pushyamitra, Srinivas Teja and Rohit, four students of 3rd year, Computer Science and Engineering Department. This project was about making cities self-sustainable by urban farming on rented places. Considering the American societies, where people have unused places like the backyards, the students developed prototype of Urbanbowl, a decentralised urban farming platform where people can lease out empty spaces like backyards or basements. This platform was developed using blockchain technology. Their project also satisfied five UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)- End Hunger, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Reduction in Forest Loss and Land Degradation, Climate Action and Sustainable Production Pattern. The students received a bounty of $500 from SKALE and $500 from DAPPHERO for their project.
Securednote participants praised in ETHDenver
SECURENOTE, the second project from SRM-AP, was also highly praised in the conference. Yoganand and Nikhil, 3rd year students of Electronics and Communication Engineering along with Chaitanya and Abhin, 3rd year students of Computer Science and Engineering were the brains behind the project. They have developed a platform where people’s complaints will not go unnoticed. The present scenario in Indian police station shows that people register their complaints manually, and most of the times, those complaints get lost or no action is taken. Using blockchain technology, students of SRM-AP have developed such a platform where such complaints will be registered and digitised in such a way that cannot be modified later without bringing it into notice of all the concerned authorities. This will make the process more secure as none will be able to alter or modify the complaints without notifying the concerned people. They also have received a bounty of $2000 from DAOSTACK for their project.
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Interactive session with industrial inventors
Kaustubh Dhonde, CEO, Swadeep Pillarisetti, Advisor and Board Director, Sachin Gowda, Embedded Engineer, and Aswanth Mulupuri, Intern, Department of Automation of AutoNxt Automation – an innovative Mumbai based startup, visited SRM University AP, Andhra Pradesh for a two-day program as a part of the National Science Day celebration at the campus. The company demonstrated their latest technological marvel, the World’s First Electric, Autonomous Tractor. “A lot of research is conducted globally with multiple companies working on the automation of on-road vehicles. However, off-road vehicles’ automation has hardly been touched upon previously, although there are less variables being controlled environments like farms, industrial plants, etc where it is more feasible a solution”, says Mr. Swadeep who has been advising the company which has brought about a revolutionary breakthrough in the domain of Indian agriculture.
Some of the exceptional features of the Electric Automated Tractor include fully electric drivetrain, low NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels, mobile application for interaction with the tractor, live tracking, geo fencing capabilities, battery and system status reports on mobile app, obstacle detection technology and optional automatic hydraulic control of implements. The company is also planning to develop a common charging point that will use free energy sources.
Demonstration by the CEO
AutoNxt Automation has created its niche by offering cost-effective and energy-efficient solutions to farming problems. Mr. Kaustubh believes “It is important that technology reaches out to the entire farmer class”. He further explains the crises of the Indian agricultural system that can be resolved using the Electric Automated Tractors, “The harvesting timeframe is narrow which increases the demand of skilled labour during this season, exponentially enhancing the cumulative cost of farming. The fully automated tractors embedded with camera identification systems and sensors reduce the operational expenses up to 4 times. Also, the IoT sensors give real-time feedbacks ensuring accuracy in tilling, ploughing, and spraying insecticide.”
The representatives of the company held a demonstrative session with the students and faculty on 26th February 2020, where they introduced the tractor and explained its technological viabilities. An interactive session was also held with the students on the same day. The session enabled the students to identify the practical applications of their acquired theoretical knowledge. The entrepreneurs inspired the students to create an impactful change that will eventually benefit society as a whole. Also, it creates an opportunity for them to be closely associated with people from the industry as well as the research domain. On the following day, a presentation was made to the faculty members of SRM AP to trigger discussions on technologies used by the Electric Automated Tractor. In the end, Mr. Kaustubh and Mr. Swadeep expressed their intent to involve students to work on real-time projects with the company, along with taking assistance from the faculty members to overcome hurdles pertaining to AI/ML technologies. Mr. Swadeep says, “The students will be exposed to real case studies, contribute to the improvement of the country, and in the process earn many accolades”.
Sachin Gowda interacting with the students
“Invention of technology is a result of teamwork”- Prof. M. Lakshmi Kantham
On the eve of National Science Day, faculty, students, and staff of SRM AP assemble to celebrate the spirit of continued research and inventions which helps the world move forward. National Science Day is observed to acknowledge the discovery of Raman Effect by CV Raman in 1928. Aligned to the theme of 2020, “Women in Science”, Prof. M. Lakshmi Kantham, Distinguished professor at Institution of Chemical Technology, Mumbai graced the inaugural ceremony as the Guest of Honour. Dr. D. Narayana Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr. D. Gunasekaran, Registrar, and Prof. Jayaseelan Murugaiyan, along with Dr. Lakshmi Sirisha Maganti, Conveners, also presided the ceremony.
The distinguished guests paid homage to Prof. CV Raman and revered on his endless contribution to the field of scientific applications. Dr. D. Narayana Rao, Pro Vice-Chancellor expressed his regards towards Prof. CV Raman by explaining the plethora of applications of Raman Effect. He says, “One needs to be passionate, committed, and confident like Prof. CV Raman to excel in any field. Science Day is observed to recognize the scientists’ contribution to society, to provide a platform to the young scientists and kindle their interest in science, to create awareness regarding the significance of science and its applications, to discuss issues, and to popularize the opportunities offered by science.”
Prof. M. Lakshmi Kantham takes the dais
Prof. M. Lakshmi Kantham takes the dais to speak about women’s contribution to science. She remembered the great works of women who contributed to science and technology. She recalled Anandibai Gopalrao Joshi, the first woman physician, Anna Mani, Indian physicist, and meteorologist, Ashima Chatterjee, inventor of anti-malarial drugs, to name a few. She used this opportunity to spread awareness among young students to avail of the benefits of various fellowship programs offered by the government to female students. She also identifies that the challenges witnessed by our country can be solved by encouraging more female students along with males to indulge in research. In her words, “Invention of technology is a result of teamwork. Passion, perfection, and persistence are key to research whereas hard work and innovation lead to success”.
27 schools were invited to the campus of SRM AP. Young students from 8th and 9th standard flocked with their teachers to participate in various activities designed for them. The schools exhibited their science projects in groups. The students also participated in a science quiz, followed by oral presentation competition where they were to speak for two minutes on random topics. The winners were awarded gold and silver medals by Prof. Lakshmi Kantham to encourage the students to further excel in their careers and contribute to scientific research and innovations in the future.
School students attending National Science Day
Picture credit (photography society)