The summer school for the elimination of child labour through innovative technologies which was held from 10th to 30th June 2013 has concluded with various innovative technologies and designs. The workshop was part of a movement initiated by GIAN and ILO with the support of SRISTI and NIF. It aimed at tapping fresh, creative and innovative ideas from the minds of engineering students from the finest institutions in India. It was also set up to provide an environment to such students who wished to enhance and improve their skills in creative thinking, designing and modeling.
After a brief orientation on the current situation of child labour, the participants realised the alarming need to eradicate the problem. The students were sent to different sectors to experience the problems first hand. Sectors included garbage dump sites, construction sites, tea vendors and cobblers. Afterwards, they openly interacted with some of the finest innovators from the country, such as Mr. Mansukhbhai Patel whose cotton stripper eradicated child labour from the cotton stripping segment. The innovators detailed their years of experience, their dedication and the problems they faced. After the interaction, the students started designing solutions towards a cause.
Image: Summer School students and journalists from arte TV (a Franco-German TV channel) interact with Prof. Gupta and Pareshbhai Panchal, innovator of a bamboo splinter.
Having experienced and shared the labourers’ pain during their field visit, the students now had a good idea about the problem they had to solve. They began brainstorming ideas, which they then screened till they had a decent number of workable ideas at hand. Those ideas were sketched to create a visual impression to be presented to Prof. Gupta, who later reviewed and screened them further. He gave guidance on the thought process of designing solutions for a cause such as eradicating child labour through effort and dedication along with an honest intention to give back to the children their deserved childhood.
A trip was then arranged to the EQDC Fabrication Lab in Gandhinagar where the participants would have access to fabricate their prototypes. Mr. Krishan Kumar detailed his months of experience at the Narol dump yard trying to design a device that can make the lives of waste segregators easier. As he detailed his experience, the participants got a glimpse into the reality of the design process. They got to know how to design a creative solution, conduct user trials, gather users’ feedback, learn about labourers daily livelihood and culture, which are also relevant for the design of a product.
With the participants now well initiated they began modeling their ideas into miniature representations using mechanix sets. This gave them a working model of their ideas and allowed the participants and the coordinators to judge the ideas better. These miniatures were then reviewed and screened by Prof Gupta.
Having now come to the modeling stage, the students were guided by Mr.Vitthal Varia of Varia Designs. He introduced them to the essence of design. He critiqued the students on their way of thinking, explained how their thoughts influence design and how one’s feelings and motivations can be utilised as powerful tools to add to the recipe of a perfect design. Prof. Bhaskar Bhatt from IIT Gandhinagar was then asked to screen the models. He sat down with the summer school participants and assisted them in modifying their designs. He critiqued the ideas based on their practicality and purpose and spent an entire day identifying errors, making modifications and suggestions to the ideas.
Under the guidance of Prof. Sheetal Panchal, the participants then moved to modeling their prototypes for dimensions. They created life-size models of their designs and measured their dimensions which they later used to create virtual designs for the fabrication stage.
By the end of the fabrication stage, the outcome were six working prototypes and two ideas still under fabrication. The working prototypes were displayed on the final day of the workshop for the jury presentation. These included a Broom Making Device, a Load Carrying Device, a Sugarcane Juice Extractor Modification, a Bamboo Splinter, A Load Carrying Device for porters and a Construction Raw Material Transport Mechanism. Two ideas, viz. a Tea Serving Machine and a Teacup Washing Machine for local tea vendors were still under fabrication.
The summer workshop was a journey undertaken by innovators, both old and new, to showcase that when there is dedication, integrity and honesty there is a fruitful outcome. Such lessons and more is what our participants take back from this workshop. Although we still have a long way to go in the fight towards eradicating child labour, The torch has been passed. The new and bright generation of India armed with latest technology and social networking skills, have showcased that time is not an issue and accessibility to resources is not either. This was evident as we had working prototypes, all starting as fresh ideas form an idea generation stage, by almost all the teams in less than a month. This effort that started off with great innovators, who’ve dedicated decades of their life coming out with innovations that have successfully eradicated child labour, has seen in our participants the bright future of this country.
Read more about the design projects of the Summer School here.