A step into the world of innovation

Written by Abhishek Chakraborty | Updated: Feb 10 2014, 19:43pm hrs
What would happen if a programmer, a designer, a scientist, a researcher and a student is made to work together No doubt there would be chaos, but the chaos can lead to new innovations. This is what was the focus of the Design Innovation (DI) workshop recently held in Mumbai.

With participation of over 380 studentsdancers, painters, designers, professionals, engineers, teachersthe DI workshop by the Welingkar Institute of Management Development and Research (WeSchool) and the MIT Media Lab encouraged youngsters to think out-of-the-box. The week-long workshop saw 30 researchers from the MIT mentoring participants to use innovative and design thinking approach to co-create simple, novel and practical solutions.

The thing that is missing in India is platform and exposure; there is enough of talent here. So we are here to give these folks the required platform and exposure, said Kshitij Marwah, who is leading the MIT Media Lab India initiative, adding, With this workshop, we wanted to make these people think differently and make them understand how to identify a problem and how to solve the same.

If you dont fit anywhere in the world with your idea and personality, you might get fit in the Media Lab, thats the idea we used for choosing these applicants. It is not based on the number of certificates your have achieved or what grades you have got, added Marwah.

Starting from a field visit to identify crucial pain points of the society to brainstorming on its plausible solutions, the workshop focused on 10 different tracks, which includes living mobile, banking, sustainability, grass-roots engineering, interaction futures and creative learning.

In its fourth year, this is the first time that MIT has tied up with a business-school for the initiative. The earlier three editions were held in collaboration with engineering schools. In fact, we thought this is a right time to shift to a design and management school so that the vision can be translated into a workshop, added Marwah.

Some of the notable prototypes from over 100 that were designed during the workshop included a hair comb with inbuilt camera to detect the health of ones scalp and hair; a smart bike which warns of potholes and proximity to other vehicles on the road; and a device which enables hearing impaired enjoy music using vibrations, colour and lyrics.

Shravan Kumaran, 14, and his younger sibling Sanjay, 12, were the youngest participants in this workshop. But unlike their age, their credentials are, indeed, huge. Shravan is the president and Sanjay is the CEO of Go Dimensions, an app development unit that they founded two years ago in Chennai.

Prashant Patil, who heads the track grass-roots engineering, adopted a unique approach for selecting his students. Before any selection, he took up any random engineering institute and did a Google search on it. I selected the students only if there is no website for that institute, he added. He wants to transform job-seekers into job-creators.