NIT-K, Surathkal rises to challenge posed by pandemic

MANGALURU: The pandemic has been a dampener for NITK Surathkal, which was in a festive mood of celebrating its diamond jubilee. K Umamaheshwar Rao, director of the institution, said that it has converted the challenges posed by the pandemic into opportunities.

The diamond jubilee year celebrations (2019-2020) of the institution commenced on August 6, 2019. The celebrations were expected to culminate last month with grandeur, but the pandemic has come as a hurdle.

Rao said that despite the institution closing down and academic activities coming to a grinding halt, NITK has turned the challenges posed by the pandemic into opportunities. “Academic and research activities were severely affected since students had to vacate the campus. But as the adage goes, ‘when the going gets tough, the tough get going!’ It is during times of crisis that true leaders exhibit their talents as was demonstrated by the collective leadership under the guidance of K Balaveera Reddy, chairperson of our Board of Governors,” he said.

The NITK fraternity demonstrated innovative solutions to mitigate the challenges posed by the pandemic. Rao said that as a first step in this direction, it was decided to use IT tools to conduct academic activities online. Since April 2020, conducting academics online has become a new normal at NITK. The institution has indigenously developed an online lecture delivery MIS platform called Integrated Resources and Information Sharing System (IRIS) for use by students and faculty through the support of MoE.

Rao said that as part of their commitment towards social responsibility, NITK has made significant contributions in the form of designing and fabricating 3D printed ventilator components, face masks with N95 filters, face shields, hand sanitizers and apps to ensure that migrant workers travel safely, to mitigate the hardship caused by Covid-19. The ‘Saral’ app was developed by Chitransh Lodha, a final year electrical engineering student, in collaboration with the Bokaro district administration. This app is extremely useful for locating migrant workers stranded in cities, classifying their professions, identifying their arrival points, and consequent surveillance.

An interactive app employing models based on deep learning, specifically recursive neural network (RNN) has been developed by the department of computer science and engineering (CSE). It takes true data from all the countries that have seen the pandemic for more than 90 days (more than 160 days as of now) and uses this as the base for making predictions about the spread of the pandemic. The algorithm is able to make predictions, looking ahead for twenty days as of now. This work is partially funded by Google Cloud Covid-19 credits. They have awarded US $10,000 cloud credits for this work. “Faculty and students of NITK are continuing their sustained efforts to further provide support to the government and society at large in facing the challenges posed by the pandemic,” he stressed.

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