Tuesday, 23 June 2020

i4C Blogathon - First Prize Winning Entry by Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh| Theme - Cyber Security and Data Protection

Innovative Cyber Security and Data Protection Practices for the Digitally Driven World
First Prize Winning Entry by Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh| Theme -  Cyber Security and Data Protection

By Mr. Sunil Kumar Singh2nd Year, Electronics/Electrical
Indian Institute of Technology Mandi (IIT Mandi)
Rapid growth and innovation in technology have enabled humans to solve many challenging problems. With faster, cheaper, and effective technological solutions, we have entered the Information Age where data serves as fuel. Unlike other sources of fuel, data is not limited. It is created every second by everyone at an unimaginable rate. A recent study shows we generate 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.[1] This number is only going to increase with increasing dependency of organizations and governments upon IoT devices, digital tools, and services to drive the economy and fulfill the needs of society. 
Why Cyber security?
With more data, comes more risk. If the private and confidential data of the public goes in the wrong hands, it can lead to severe damage to corporations and individuals, and hence, needs to be protected. 
Statistics show that there is a web attack every 39 seconds across the globe[2] and 30,000 new websites get hacked every day on average.[3] Globalization has surely facilitated trade and sharing of ideas, but it has also made the whole world one entity, making them dependent on each other and hence, vulnerable. 
In the middle of a global pandemic COVID-19, our dependence on cyberspace has grown more than ever. From basic transactions to government bodies' meetings, everything is being done online. As online activities increase, so does the risk of cyber-attacks. We have started to realize that the protection of our data is as important as the proper utilization of it. 
Murphy’s law holds true in cyberspace which states, “If anything can go wrong, it will go wrong.” meaning, even a single mistake can lead to disruption of organizations and even governments. 
What are we doing Right?
Many organizations already have good security policies in place with a dedicated department for security to safeguard users' data. The security teams identify and mitigate threats that can potentially harm a company. Apart from that, companies are also following different tactics to ensure data security, such as penetration testing, vulnerability management, endpoint security, etc.  
Developers have started adopting necessary security measures like 2-Factor Authentication, web-application firewalls on both client as well as server sides, etc 
In recent years many companies have come up with ‘Responsible Disclosures Programs’ persuading good minds to hack for good. Platforms like HackerOne and BugCrowd, facilitate such programs and award white hat hackers with monetary rewards, popularly known by the buzz word 'bug bounty' for finding vulnerabilities in their companies and reporting them ethically. 
 Is it in(Sufficient)?
Still, a huge number of companies don't have adequate security measures due to various reasons, which puts users' data at risk. A recent study by Acunetix shows that 46% of web applications suffer from critical vulnerabilities and 87% suffer from medium-level vulnerabilities.[4] 
Less secure systems lead to massive data breaches, which have become a very common incident in recent times.[5] This leads to leakage and misuse of users’ private and confidential data ranging from their contact details to credit card information. 
Popular bug-bounty platforms fail to ensure 100% security as most companies allow only a limited portion of their assets to be tested by ethical security researchers, giving cyber criminals ample space to hack on. Some companies are also reported to give very little monetary rewards as compared to the potential loss in certain cases,[6] which pushes white hat hackers to the black side. 
Future Challenges
| 100% security is a myth 
Companies always go through changes. Applications always roll out updates. Technologies change all the time. Today's security can be tomorrow's vulnerability. 
If all goes right, we have humans as masters, who are one of the most vulnerable pieces in a system. No matter how secure the application is, it can be hacked in minutes if the administrator's password is 'password'. 
New technologies can not only introduce new vulnerabilities but can also turn old weaknesses into potential vulnerabilities. PTSecurity reported, web-applications with 'extremely poor' security have doubled compared to the previous year[4].

Over time, vulnerabilities might have remained the same, but the potential loss has increased many folds. The number of cases of ransomware attacks, data breaches, etc. has increased globally, which demands new innovative solutions instead of the traditional approach. 
Research in quantum computing may facilitate cyber-attacks with exponentially faster computing power enabling hackers to destroy major encryptions and making security even more difficult. 
Hence, to solve such problems which have never existed, we need solutions which never existed. 
Innovative Solutions
Horizontal vs. Vertical Growth
| It's not about Horizontal or Vertical, but Horizontal and Vertical. 
Horizontal growth, i.e. expansion of existing security policies to every sector and organization is as important as Vertical growth, which means developing new policies and measures to protect user data in a more efficient way. Only with balanced growth in both the fields, can we hope for a more secure world. 
People Are Vulnerabilities
Every employee is a potential entry point to the internal network for an attacker. A simple social engineering trick can compromise an employee's identity leading to a severe attack. Employees must be tested and trained regularly for such attacks.

| Equality is not always good 
Not every employee should be authorized to alter database entries. There must be a hierarchy in place giving different privileges to different people. 
Monitored Updates
A large number of companies have been compromised because of outdated software and services in place. An automated system should monitor all the assets owned by the company and update them as soon as a new patch is issued. 5G technology can aid to achieve the same globally, keeping all the systems updated across the globe all the time. This will remove many CVEs which are prime sources of cyber-attacks. 
White Hat vs. Black Hat
Employees switch jobs for better recognition of their skills. If white-hats were paid more than black-hats, we'd have had fewer cyber criminals, if not zero. 
The term “Ethical” in "Ethical hacker" forces us to think a hacker by default is unethical, which is not the case. The incentives and rewards which hackers see appear huge to them as compared to the risk involved, which persuades good minds to do evil. 
Black-hat hackers enjoy full freedom while white-hat hackers are restricted to certain areas for testing. An army can't save a country if soldiers are confined to bunkers and criminals are free to attack from wherever they want. Providing ethical researchers more freedom and access to resources will not only make security easier but also transform black-hats into white-hats. 
Stricter Laws and Rules
Governments must make and implement stricter rules for cyber security, and keep organizations in check.
Companies with more than a certain user base must meet predefined security criteria. ● Startups must have a security team from the very start. Cyber-police should keep people in check and make them follow government rules. Cyber rules should be an integral part of the school's curriculum same as the "Fundamental Rules". 
Ahead of 'Them'
Since 100% security is impossible, we need to be ahead of the criminals in order to stay safe. 

More research in cyber security should be promoted and facilitated by increasing funding. Cyber security should be considered as important as a country's army because weapons can’t help if they are open to cyber attacks. 
There have been cases where claims have been made to have successfully compromised fingerprint scanners as well.[7] This shows we need better scanning technology, encryptions, and cryptography in the future. 
Blockchain Technology
Arguably claimed by some experts, Blockchain can be the future of the internet. Well, it may not be the case, but it can surely help make cloud services more secure. 
In blockchain technology, a digital ledger is maintained where the information is added permanently after verification. With more transparency and visibility to individuals, it makes tampering of data difficult. Further research in blockchain technology is needed for cloud protection as almost 95% of companies rely on cloud services.[8] 
Final words
To keep the cyber-threats in check, cyber security researchers need to keep on finding innovative technological solutions. By implementation of better security policies and measures, a safer world will not just remain a dream. 
[1] How Much Data Do We Create Every Day? The Mind-Blowing Stats Everyone Should Read by Bernard Marr, Forbes, Published on May 21, 2018
[2] Hackers Attack Every 39 Seconds | Security Magazine, studied at University of Maryland, Published in Security Magazine on February 10, 2017
[3] 30,000 Web Sites Hacked A Day | Forbes by James Lyne, Forbes, Published on Sep 6, 2013
[4] Acunetix’s report “Web Application Vulnerability 2019”, Acunetix, Published on March 5, 2019 [5] The 15 biggest data breaches of the 21st century, by Dan Swinhoe, CSO, April 17, 2020
[6] #nofreebugs twitter hashtags by security researchers against their exploitation [started in 2011]
[7] Hackers Claim ‘Any’ Smartphone Fingerprint Lock Can Be Broken In 20 Minutes, by Davey Winder, Editors' Pick, Forbes, Nov 2, 2019
[8] Changing Attitudes Towards Business Intelligence in the Cloud, DataSync, Published on August 16, 2017
[*] Copyright-Free Images, RawPixel and PixaBay

i4C Blogathon - First Prize Winning Blog Entry by Ms. Gayathri S K | Theme Healthcare Automation & Renewable Energy

Non-invasive Monitoring System For Stress-free Labor

First Prize Winning Entry  | Theme Healthcare Automation & Renewable Energy

Ms. Gayathri S K
Year, Electronics/Electrical
Sethu Institute of  Technology

Ever watched scenes of a woman giving birth in a movie? Chances are they were pretty intense and blaring, and made you cringe at least once.
It always feels like life is moving faster all the time. But for a pregnant woman, things seem to slow down and days become hard to pass. Many women feel more vulnerable or anxious.
At least 1 in 5 women develop a mental illness during pregnancy, and many are likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. If an expectant mother is stressed for a longer time, the risk of the unborn child developing a physical or mental illness increases. Also, women with diabetes or high blood pressure might face many complications during pregnancy and labor. But as every lock has its key, this problem too has a solution – a non-invasive fetal monitoring device.

So, what is a fetal monitoring system?
Fetal monitoring is a procedure of monitoring the fetus by assessing the rate of the fetal heartbeat and the uterine contractions of the mother. Any abnormality may indicate an insufficient supply of oxygen to the fetus or other complications. Fetal monitoring assures both the mother and the obstetrician–gynecologist (ob-gyn) or other physicians that it is safe to continue with the labor if no problem is detected. Currently, there are two ways of monitoring:
• External monitoring: A fetoscope is the most basic external monitor. This device records the fetal heart rate when placed on the mother’s abdomen. Another widely used device is the one that
we all grew up watching in movies, the hand-held ultrasound doppler which produces an audible simulation of the heartbeat. These methods are normally carried out during the prenatal visits.
• Internal monitoring: Here an electronic transducer is connected directly to the fetal scalp through the cervical opening of the mother. But this method is carried out only when a signal could not be detected properly or when keen monitoring is required (Sigh of relief!).
During labor, the frequency and strength of the uterine contractions are measured using a tocodynamometer, a pressure-sensitive device that is placed on the mother’s abdomen. Cardiotocography also called as electronic fetal monitoring is a method that assesses both fetal heart rate and uterine contractions, and plots them in a graph which the physician uses for observation. This procedure is not desired since the mother is physically restricted during its use. Several methods exist in terms of monitoring the fetus and the mother during labor. But what if these procedures themselves panic all the pregnant mamas?

How about going handy and non-invasive?
The methods mentioned above do not come trouble-free. The demerits are evident as follows:
• Large-sized machines
• Cause physical restriction
• Might lead to incorrect readings or observer variability
• The mother might need medication for pain relief

While almost anything and everything around the world is becoming handy, why still worry about pregnancy? Wearable devices are revolutionizing the healthcare sector. Harnessing the power of
wearables, my friends and I have deduced a solution that would make pregnancy a feel-good experience for all the mamas out there. We have ideated to develop an advanced non-invasive monitoring system –
WeeCare, which displays the fetal and maternal heart rates, and uterine activity on a single device. But no belts and cables or insertion through the cervix this time. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
• The device non-invasively detects the fetal and maternal ECG (fECG and mECG) signals and extracts heart rates (FHR and MHR), separately.
• It also detects electromyogram (EMG) signals to decipher the uterine activity (UA).
The device has simple, adhesive patches that are stuck on the mother’s abdomen. These patches have electrodes that collect the ECG and EMG signals from the skin surface and transfer them to the magnetically connected processor which is attached to the display device. The signals are filtered, digitized, and processed to extract the FHR, MHR, and UA readings. This processor then transmits the data via Bluetooth enabling the caregivers to observe them on the display device.

Why WeeCare?
Expectant mothers anticipate a fuss-free pregnancy, and caregivers bank on exceptional medical system. WeeCare prioritizes mother’s comfort and also enhances caregiver workflow.
• Flexible choices
The mother could be monitored without any restrictions either during pregnancy or during labor. WeeCare empowers the mother by letting her do what is best for her. The device provides a belt-free labor experience allowing freedom of movement. She can move unassisted while receiving the
needed care and can also choose her labor positions and ambulatory activities.

• Mobility
The device wirelessly transmits data from the patches, removing the need for cords between the patient and the fetal monitor (display device).

The device helps know the condition of the fetus from time to time consistently which would help detect preterm births or other complications easily. Women with a history of miscarriage will find the
device obliging.(That’s enough technicality.)
The fetal monitor will also include features like:
• in-app purchases to buy every item in the mile-long, “prepping-for-baby” 
 To-Do list
• health tips, and exercise regime
• reminders and memos for clinical check-ups, and much more exciting stuff to make pregnancy a pleasurable episode in life.
The main motive behind ideating to build WeeCare is to make pregnancy and labor a delightful experience while reducing birth defects and infant deaths.
Calling all mamas-to-be! It’s a fundamental truth of motherhood that those nine months of pregnancy could be extremely tiring and intimidating, but WeeCare will be your Holy grail.
Happy mama-ing!

i4C Blogathon - First Prize Winning Entry by Ms. Dhanashree Revagade | Theme - SIH

How Smart India Hackathon (SIH) participation has helped me to strengthen my competency and enhance my skill-sets

First Prize Winning Entry  | Theme - SIH 


Ms. Dhanashree Revagade 
3rd Year, Comp/IT
Indian Institute of Information Technology (Pune)

Smart India Hackathon (SIH), is one of the biggest platforms to learn product development and the most significant innovation model inculcating teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking. I've participated in the SIH in three consecutive years (2018, 2019, 2020), which are the significant milestones in my journey to acquire several technical and professional skills. In this essay, I will take you through this extraordinary learning expedition. 

(Fig 1: My SIH Journey)

In my first academic year at college, I got acquainted about the SIH competition. Excited about the concept, I decided to give it a try and formed a team with my friends for SIH 2018. Although we were inexperienced and novice in the technologies, our zest to learn through new opportunities fuelled our excitement. We chose a problem statement in the agricultural domain, which required an agro advisory app. Lacking the skills needed for Android App Development, we nevertheless submitted the solution for shortlisting. Looking back at it, I realise that our approach was unsystematic, unorganised and haphazard. We had proposed many features without technical research and detailed study. Although our team couldn't clear the first phase that year, we sure did learn valuable lessons. 

The major lesson was the importance of comprehensive team discussions and brainstorming on the problem statement, which was acutely lacking in our maiden attempt at SIH.  Also, I learnt that one cannot just thoughtlessly propose features without a strong understanding of the fundamentals. Understanding the exact requirements for submission was also a very crucial component that our team hadn’t paid pay heed to. Even though our first attempt was unsuccessful, these lessons continued to guide me in my future endeavours, one of which was the SIH 2019. 

Then the sophomore year came with newer opportunities. This time, I was better acquainted with the SIH process and had prior experience too, but was slightly ambivalent for participating again after the previous unsuccessful attempt. Fortunately though, two of my seniors approached me during this time to join their SIH 2019 team. Notwithstanding the dilemma, my passion for learning something new took better of me and I finally decided to join their team - “Calm down its just Genjutsu”. Thus, once again, I was to become a part of SIH. 

Immediately after finalising the team, we began shortlisting the potential problem statements eventually finalising two of them. Post that, our focus was squarely on development of a prototype for the first-level submission. Active technical discussions then helped us understand potential solutions. To further improve our thought process, we extensively referred to the published scientific literature. These gave us a broader perspective on the problem statement and the applicable methods. At every step of this significant process, I referred to my previous SIH experience to better this attempt. Although I was enjoying the process, there was one thing that constantly bothered me. 

I wondered whether my inclusion to the team was a tactic to satisfy the female member criteria, according to which, at least one female member was required for a legit participation. Moreover, having more female members was profitable from the tie-breaker point of view. This determined me to prove that my inclusion was a worthy decision.  Thus, I worked harder to enhance my research skills, critical thinking abilities and solely focused on contributing to the project. Eventually, after weeks of hard work, our team made two submissions. Now our hopes were on results!

When the results were declared, we were ecstatic on learning that our team had been selected for one of the two submitted solutions. Moreover, our happiness knew no bounds as we were the first-ever team from our college to be a part of the SIH Grand Finale. At this juncture, I had begun to believe that I made the right decision by embracing this excellent learning opportunity. Now the focus was entirely on our solution for the Grand Finale. 

The problem statement was 'Inconsistency detection in medical annotation' provided by ezDI organisation. We informed our mentors and began working wholeheartedly towards the development of the solution. Many times our team quibbled and debated on different ideas, but the intriguing questions and constant confusions made us learn collaboratively. After organising our approach using flow diagrams, understanding the show stoppers, and writing to researchers for clearing doubts when needed, we were finally ready for the Grand Finale in March 2019.

(Image 1: Our team coding in the 36-hour Hackathon at NIT Warangal)

In the 36-hours of Hackathon at NIT Warangal, we coded continuously and coordinated together to present our innovative idea. What impressed the evaluators was our use of a whiteboard to systematically explain the flow of our solution and different graphs to analyse the obtained results. After going through rigorous evaluation rounds and presentations at various stages, we relaxed and waited for the results to be announced.

Then finally, after hearing our team’s name in the winners' list, our happiness knew no bounds. Months of hard-work telescoped into our sudden cheer. We were awarded medals, certificates, and the prize cheque. This left us with an indelible memory of the winning moment.

(Image 2: Our winning moment in the SIH 2019 Grand Finale)

SIH 2019 played a significant role in my personal development. Although I felt that my inclusion in the team was because of the female member requirement, I made sure to act my part with integrity and sincerity.I independently developed the search module in the end-to-end solution during the Hackathon. The appreciation from evaluators, mentors and teammates for the flawless and quick searches in the module imparted a lot of confidence into me. Coding for 36 hours continuously in the Hackathon, taught me a great deal about time management, commitment and introduced me to the limitless nature of my strength and inner resolve. I had come a long way from my ambivalence to participate in the Hackathon to becoming more confident about my technical expertise because of SIH 2019.  In fact, I had understood that consistent hard-work in a focused direction pays off brilliantly. SIH 2019 ended, but the learning continued. 

Our mentor motivated us to work on the problem further with a purely scientific research point of view. Believing that winning should not hinder my further learning, I embraced one more opportunity and challenged myself yet again. Working on the same problem at a stretch, revisiting the approach and noting down every detail this time, helped my research team see through the loopholes in our existing solution. During this process, I learnt about the deeper aspects of research methodology, research conduct, and the importance of coherent documentation and systematic presentation of ideas. These I realised are as important as developing a fully-functional solution. Within 2.5 months, our manuscript was ready and we eventually submitted it to ACM Forum for Information Retrieval Evaluation (FIRE) 2019 conference.

Then after paper acceptance, in December 2019, our research team went to the Indian Statistical Institute(ISI) Kolkata to present our first-ever research paper. The intriguing presentations, question-answer sessions, and my personal interactions with different researchers made me aware of the advancements in the domain. They filled my mind with many interesting research ideas.  

Learning significantly from these events in the past 2 years, I was eager to continue my learning spree.  So, this year again, for the third time, I decided to participate in SIH 2020. There were no confusions this time, no ambivalence to participate; only a strong passion for embracing new knowledge and developing exciting solutions. I am no longer in a team to satisfy the participation criteria; instead, I am in the team because of my collaborative nature, because of my technical strengths, and because of my hard work and my significant contributions - I have earned it.

We have cleared the preliminary selection phase for SIH 2020, and are trying to apply the skills and knowledge that we acquired from the remarkable process and previous participation. I am sure that the SIH 2020 Grand Finale would further contribute to my technical skills & apprise me of the key areas

I need to work on in the future. 

Overall, I feel SIH is the fundamental cause of my exploration of this fascinating research domain and becoming an excellent team player. All these experiences in my three consecutive academic years of college are the foundations of technical strengths and more than experiences they are my journey; an exceptional learning journey that I will always continue to cherish. 


  1. Image 1 and Image 2 of our Grand Finale 

Source- SIH 2019 photo gallery shared by NIT Warangal.

  1. Fig 1. - My SIH Journey 

Made using MS- PowerPoint.

  1. Fig 2. - The skillset word cloud diagram 

Made using- https://wordart.com/

  1. The two thinking cartoons

Made using online tool - https://www.toonytool.com/

i4C Blogathon - First Runner Up Winning Entry by Ms. Anushree Krishania | Theme - Health Care Automation & Renewable Energy

First Runner Up Prize Winning Entry  | Theme - Health Care Automation & Renewable Energy

Ms. Anushree Krishania
2nd Year, Comp/IT
NIIT University

Who knew that a single half-year would show humans their status? They said mankind runs this planet and history says the human race ruined it. For me the fact comes out to be that we were so busy with our inventions to gain strength and potential that we forgot to save ourselves before destroying nature... Humanity does not exist on this planet anymore so let's not talk about it. No offense but reaching Mars will not heal Earth in any way! Despite scientific and technological advances, communication has turned impossible for persons living under the same roof.

It all started with the lock-in syndrome we all are going through. So here I was reading about this new technique called functional near-infrared spectroscopy - a procedure that offers a non-invasive, safe, portable, and low-cost method of indirect and direct monitoring of brain activity. And it led me to discovering more about locked-in syndrome - a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally - which our 21st century’s generation is going through for sure. Thanks to our technology-driven world. I do appreciate the fact that technology is helping us survive the odd times we all had but that doesn't mean we go in the direction of giving it the authority of handling our lives.
And then right at this point I decided if at all I could show how technology saves lives and not to divide humanity. Covid-19 was ruining the progress of work and in between we heard this competition called National Innovation Challenge. Me and my team grabbed the opportunity. We ticked the ‘Health care innovation’ as our theme in the form and started looking for options. We came up with this idea of the ‘Electrolyte’ concept.
We’ll get into the technical jargon (Scientific terms sounds like that) once I introduce you with the main objective. “A nine-year-old girl had to hold a bottle of saline for her father after surgery” reports NDTV. This could have been a perfect example of Atmnirbharta!
Electrolytes are a part of intravenous therapy. Nurses/assistants are responsible for the patients taking these intravenous solutions. There is no such automated monitoring system to manage all this and give an alert when the electrolyte level drops down.
God forbids if someone is suffering from lock in syndrome where an electrolyte bottle is being used for giving them requirements in their body. I’m highly appreciating the efforts the medical team is doing in this recent pandemic going on but then there are cases where sometimes the hospital staff is only concerned for their shifts to get over soon. They are humans after all! Some cases were reported where nurses or the hospital staff skipped changing or refilling the solution bag. Any lag/carelessness in monitoring can cause the reverse-flow of blood i.e. from the body to the bottle. or maybe put it in this way that air-bubbles can enter into the blood from empty bottles which can cause immediate deaths. Yes, death and this can't be taken for granted now!  
Fig 1

Therefore, making a fully automatic electrolyte system is the aim of this project. In the medical world, there's no doubt that sharing is caring. Unfortunately, up until recently, this hasn't always been possible. Now, through the cloud and other means, this isn't the case. All information can easily be accessed by those that require it, and this again reduces the number of times physicians are "wasting" on admin tasks. Here comes something technical and that’s the working process of our idea(refer to fig.1 on the top). The basic requirements we are planning to use will be IR Sensor, Arduino, Basic connection equipment, and Developers account for publishing the application. The power supply will be given to the IR Sensor and this sensor will reflect to the electrolyte. In return, the electrolyte will reflect back the result to IR(fig. 2), and further the data will be transferred to the Arduino controller. Now this activates the app and the nurse gets the reminder to change the solution bag. As simple as this! The more information that physicians can share, the more benefits that a patient can have access to. Therefore, we thought of making the application for patients as well and the work is in process.
 Automation is when manual tasks are reduced by the use of information technology and this is what we aim for. The UI of the application has been designed which shows that the app will contain the details of the patients under a particular nurse allocated to them. The following figure, shows the UI of the application. The 3rd image with ‘My Profile’ shows the profile of the nurse in charge.

The second fault is micro-organism poisoning, adding to the infusion system or maybe the crack in the bottle. These kinds of situations will be notified by the application we have created. We are possibly looking at it on a large scale. This could even be applied in all the government hospitals as well as private health centres and hospitals. Economically, we’ve taken care of wherever we can cut off the cost without compromising the quality, also producing it in a bulk will make it more affordable.
The whole monitoring system is totally reusable as many times as we want. Consumers have been purchasing products and services online for years. Book a trip, check your credit card balance and buy your vitamins with literally one click – all from your phone. Why should consumers expect less from their healthcare providers? Let's make everyone safe because every life matters. Even the criteria of developed countries depend on the general state of living. Let us support the change because it’s rightly said, “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 
https://www.ijareeie.com/upload/2016/march/64_A%20Survey.pdf https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-94-011-6341-5_10(https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/after-fathers-surgery-girl-told-to-hold-saline-bottle-at-maharas htra-hospital-1850404). 

i4C Blogathon - First Runner Up Prize Winning Entry by Ms. Aishwariya Elangovan | Theme - SIH

How Smart India Hackathon (SIH) participation has helped me to strengthen my competency and enhance my skill-sets

First Runner Up Prize Winning Entry  | Theme - SIH 

 Ms. Aishwariya Elangovan
4th Year, Electronics/Electrical
St.Joseph's College of Engineering

I would definitely tell you that Smart India Hackathon has created priceless moments and achievements in every participant’s life. It is a lifetime memory. It has moulded me in to what I am now from then. 

No idea of what Smart India Hackathon is?

Smart India Hackathon, a nationwide initiative brings out smart innovators across India to solve technical challenges.. It is a great time for students to showcase their talents. 

In my experience, it is a 36 hour long competition, that takes you through a roller-coaster ride with twist and turns, joy and fun, good times alternating with difficult times.

You win or lose, experience leads to success” is all that I learned from the journey of SIH. Not only had it enhanced my technical skills but also my interpersonal skills through the exposure I gained. I would relate various types of emotions that I experienced with the qualities I earned.


             “Sufferings taught me to be patient, Motivations made me more efficient;

Challenges taught me my strengths, Support gave me more confidence.

Fear taught me to become creative, Efforts turned the results productive;

Confusions made me nervous, As a team it was adventurous.”

So, isn’t it really exciting?

It is not a cakewalk to land up for this big event. But if you are into the play, I am sure that it will transform you to another level.

Here I share with you some of my experiences that helped me strengthen my skills.

1. Collaborate to Enhance Learning

One has to be open minded to collaborate. I strongly admit that I never loved to collaborate until I realized through this experience that how combined skills of several individuals contribute to greater success.

I learnt a lot as a team.

4 Major things we do when we collaborate:

  • Setting a goal: It is not easy to accomplish a task as a single person. A team is like a machine where multiple parts work simultaneously to perform an action. That’s where collaboration helps you achieve your goal.

  • Exchange of ideas: As we were a team of six from different departments, each possessed a unique skill that helped me to expand my learning. When you collaborate, learning becomes fun!

  • Acquire learning: Each one of us has different approaches when it comes to thinking. Consequently, one among the team comes up with an idea that others might have never thought of.

  • Working effectively: It is very common that we go through misunderstandings when working as team. Yet, we learn from our mistakes and work more effectively.

2. Communication as an Effective Tool

One of the best things that happened to me was the opportunity to connect with some really awesome people. If you want to connect with people, you must communicate well.

Most of us take a step back when we are asked to communicate. We feel nervous, we panic, we slip up and what else…We land up embarrassing ourselves.

To establish a rapport with the team and the jury, communication is very important.

So, how do I communicate effectively?

I still remember how nervous I felt during the first round of evaluation. But, the key to good communication is confidence. You can be technically strong enough yet you have to be confident while presenting your ideas. Also, be clear and responsive when you communicate.

 The more we collaborate, more we learn to communicate.

3. How to Deal with Conflicting Opinions and Ideas? 

'Competitions' are the best platforms for students to gain better understanding of how to deal with conflicting opinions and ideas.

A task becomes more challenging when conflict arises.

What do you do when a conflict arises?

The first thing we tend to do is the “Don’ts”. We argue and defend our opinion. Does it really make sense?

Absolutely not. I always viewed conflict in a negative perspective as it was hard to resolve. But my mentors taught me that conflict has to be managed rather than being avoided.

 After every round of evaluation, conflicts arose about how tasks have to be performed based on the jury’s feedback. The goal of the conflict was to bring a solution to our problem. In fact, I would compare conflicts with addition and subtraction as it adds innovation to your solution and subtracts dissatisfaction. Also, it helps you enhance your communication skills.

4. Knowledge through Practical Experience

The ‘Why’, ’What’, ’How’ questions arise only when you experience learning practically. We learn from various sources. But, do we practically implement what we learn? 

The Smart India Hackathon is one large platform that helped me acquire knowledge through brainstorming and practical experience. It got me exposed to various other skills that cannot be achieved through theoretical learning. 

It doesn’t mean that theoretical learning is of no use. 

Before you play a game, it is important to know how to play it.

It is the base of practical learning.

5. Explore Beyond the Nutshell

We all create, but only very few build over it. Exploring is an adventure. It will teach you beyond what you learn.  

The passion we had towards robotics helped us to bring a solution for the ministry we worked for but it was not exactly what they expected. The judges were amazed by the innovation that each team brought about for the problem statement, but neither of the teams achieved the expected solution. It was one such experience that triggered me to step ahead. At first, I thought it was all about winning that would bring success. But am sure, losing has more power than winning. I started to explore from where I left. When we explore, we learn a lot in a very short span of time.  

Never give up. Just start from where you left. Compete with yourself. You will succeed.

Didn’t this give you some inspiration to chase your adventure? So, whatever it is, get through it, learn from it, explore beyond and share your experience for others to learn from it.