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Kerala engineers who developed robot to clean manholes are on a mission to end manual scavenging

Scroll | 27 February 2017 | Thiruvananthapuram |

Bandicoot successfully completed a trial run in Thiruvananthapuram this month.

Genrobotics team with Bandicoot | Genrobotics

Manual scavenging is outlawed in India, yet thousands of people are still engaged in the work and many die cleaning sewers. According to the Safai Karmachari Andolan, a movement to eradicate manual scavenging, at least 1,470 manual scavengers died at work between 2010 and 2017. There are an estimated 1.8 lakh people in the country working as manual scavengers. Now, though, a group of engineers from Kerala may have found a way to end the “dehumanising practice”. They have designed a spider-shaped robot that cleans manholes and sewers with precision. Called Bandicoot, it has already successfully completed a trial run in Thiruvananthapuram, unclogging five manholes filled with plastic, filth, medical waste and sediments. The robot, which takes 15 minutes to clean small sewers and around 45 minutes to unclog bigger ones, was developed by Genrobotics, a company founded by nine young engineers in Thiruvananthapuram two years ago. “Our ultimate aim is to end manual scavenging in India,” said Vimal Govind, the company’s 25-year-old chief executive officer. “It is time to change manholes to roboholes.” Following the successful trial earlier this month, the Kerala Water Authority has decided to use Bandicoot to clean all sewers in Thiruvananthapuram.

Bandicoot cleans a manhole during the trial run in Thiruvananthapuram. Photo courtesy Genrobotics

Ray of hope

India has enacted two laws – the Employment of Manual Scavenging and Construction of Dry Latrines Prohibition Act, 1993 and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 – to eventually eradicate the practice of manually cleaning, carrying and disposing human excreta and garbage from sewers. Yet, manual scavengers across India still clean sewers at great risk to their lives. Most of the time, they are not provided the mandatory safety gear by their employers, largely municipal agencies, making them vulnerable to fatal accidents. Even a protective cap is a luxury for most of them, let alone jackets, gloves and masks. As a consequence, many die from inhaling poisonous gases accumulated inside manholes, oxygen depletion, heat stress or from falling down the pit. The overwhelming majority of manual scavengers are from Dalit communities. It is a harrowing life.

Bandicoot, thus, is a ray of hope. It only requires a person to operate it from a safe distance. The 80-kg robot lifts the heavy metal cover on its own, drops its arm into the manhole, scoops out the solid waste and dumps it in a bucket. “All operations can be viewed on a monitor,” Govind explained. “The robot can also be used to check the sewage apart from jetting the sewer lines.” Genrobotics plans to teach manual scavengers to operate the robot with the aim of rehabilitating them. “Bandicoot will make the life of manhole cleaners safer,” Govind said. “It will help them earn a decent living without fear of losing jobs and lives. It will also break the caste system. Bandicoot will ensure manholes in India will remain clean without losing human lives.”

In good company

In 2015, nine mechanical engineering students from MES Engineering College in Kuttippuram, Malappuram, to explore the possibility of developing robots. “All of us are passionate about robotics and we began to exchange ideas and the group was immediately given the name Team Genrobotics,” Govind said. “We decided to retain the name when we launched the company in 2016.” The idea was to build on a powered exoskeleton they had developed in the final year of college and which had won them many accolades. A powered exoskeleton is a wearable mobile machine that allows limb movement with increased strength and endurance. Such machines are used by soldiers to carry heavy objects and by fire fighters during emergency operations. After finishing college in 2016, they began to work on developing medical and industrial exoskeletons. But paucity of funds hampered them. “In order to raise funds we began to work for different firms,” said Govind. In 2017, the Kerala Startup Mission, a start-up incubator launched by the state government, offered to fund their project. “Our robotics dream got wings once again and we regrouped soon,” Govind said.

An illustration of Bandicoot lifting a manhole cover. Photo courtesy Genrobotics

A bright idea

The team then went to meet the state’s Information Technology Secretary M Sivasankar to discuss their ideas. Quite unexpectedly, he asked the engineers whether they could develop a robot to clean manholes. “A manual scavenger’s photograph published in a newspaper that morning triggered his suggestion,” Govind said. “We readily agreed.” They set to work immediately, studying the different types of manholes, speaking to manual scavengers to understand the cleaning methods and watching documentaries and videos on manual scavenging. “It helped us understand the scourge of manual scavenging,” Govind said. “We decided to go ahead with the project as we felt it was high time we ended the practice.” In one documentary, Govind heard a manual scavenger saying God had made them to do this work. “The statement shocked me,” he recalled. “At that time I decided that it was my duty to rescue these people from this deadly job.” The team officially started work on the project in June 2017 and launched Bandicoot’s beta version in January 2018. “We are indebted to Kerala Startup Mission and the Kerala Water Authority for helping us realise our dream,” Govind said. The research and development work was done and the robot was assembled at the Kerala Water Authority’s office in Thiruvananthapuram. “We procured the components, except the advanced camera and waterproof material, from different parts of India and customised them for our needs,” Govind said. “Approximate coast of one robot is Rs 10 lakh but the price will come down when it is mass produced. But we can finalise the price only after talking to government.” – Courtesy


PM research fellowship can’t stop brain drain from top engineering, tech institutes, say faculty, students at IITs

The New Indian Express | Sumi Sukanya dutta  |  24th February | Opinion |


NEW DELHI: Government’s flagship PM Research fellowship scheme for PhDs at IITs and Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore is being touted as a measure to check brain drain of “brightest minds” but the programme is being met with scepticism by students and faculties at premier institutes. On Friday, the Union human resource ministry invited application from the engineering graduates from IITs, IISc, National Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Information Technology and Indian Institutes of Science Research and Education for the programme—first announced in the budget this year. The scheme promises up to Rs 80,000 stipend to about 1000 students apart from Rs 2 lakh annual research grant and urges them to come up with research idea in subjects such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology- among several others- with clear deliverables and outcomes.

It also makes it clear that only those students who have the Cumulative Grade Point Average upward of 8 will be considered. “Every year about 20 per cent brightest minds from premium engineering and technology institutes leave country either for jobs or higher studies—this scheme should put a brake on that practice,” a senior hrd official said. Several faculty members across IITs, however conceded that unlike the undergraduate programmes at IITs, PhDs are considered less “prestigious”. “In fact, the reality is that only 200-300 students from IITs prefer to do PhDs at IITs while most prefer to go abroad for better exposure and academic experience,” said an IIT director, not wishing to be named. “Also for many students who want to pursue higher studies instead of taking up high-paying jobs, money is not very high on the priority list nor is what is being offered by the government very lucrative.” Dheeraj Sanghi, professor of Computer Science at IIT Kanpur said that scheme might benefit students from other institutes more than the older IITs and IISc. “The students will be interested in staying back for the purpose of research here if there is a healthy research ecosystem in India but the government perhaps needs to find several other ways to ensure that,” he said. “Also what is the guarantee that after five years of research these students wont go to countries like US for post-doctoral experience or jobs?”  Samarth Malik, a mechanical engineering student at IIT Kharagpur said that there is hardly any buzz around the scheme on the campus. “Many talented students are attracted towards PhDs in US universities because of the best academic experiences they promise—I doubt if PMRF can deter such students,” he quipped. – Courtesy

Online Registration For Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Begins

ND TV | Education | Maitree Baral | February 24, 2018 |

B.Tech graduates or those in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or integrated M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs are eligible for the fellowship. Additionally, applicants must have also secured 8 CGPA or more for being eligible for the fellowship.

NEW DELHI:  Online registration for Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) has begun. The last date to apply is 31 March. B.Tech graduates or those in the final year of B. Tech or Integrated M.Tech or integrated M.Sc. in Science and Technology streams from IISc/ IITs/ NITs/ IISERs/ IIITs are eligible for the fellowship. Additionally, applicants must have also secured 8 CGPA or more for being eligible for the fellowship. The fellowship will lead to direct admission in IISc or 23 IITs for full time PhD programme. Application submission portal will be available at pmrf site.  On 7 February 2018, Union Cabinet approved of the PMRF scheme under which 1000 best students with the eligibility criteria mentioned above will get direct PhD admission with fellowship ranging from Rs. 70000 to 80000. In addition to this, a research grant of Rs.2.00 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.

Candidates with B.Design admitted through JEE/UCEED and 4-year BS or B.Sc students of IISc, IITs, or IISERs admitted through JEE, KVPY and SCB are also eligible.  Applicants must send abstract on topics related to science and technology with focus on national priorities. The word limit of the abstract is 1000 words and must be sent in a PDF format. There will be written test and interview for the selection. The syllabus of the written test will be same as that of GATE/ JAM/ CEED and it will be held at the respective IIT or IISc whichever is the nodal institute. Interviews at nodal institutions will begin in the mid of May (exact date will be notified on the official website) and final list will be out by 1 June 2018.  Click here to Apply Online –   https://pmrf.in/

Govt rolls out Rs 80,000/month PhD grant to plug brain drain

The Times of India | Manash Pratim Gohain | TNN | Feb 9, 2018 |

  • PM Research Fellowships (PMRF) will be available for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, IISERs and NITs.
  • The PMRF includes monthly scholarships of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 and annual research grants of Rs 2 lakh for select scholars.

NEW DELHI: With a vision to stop India’s best brains from taking up scholarships for frontier research abroad, the Union Cabinet has approved the PM Research Fellowships (PMRF) for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, IISERs and NITs, which will also be the country’s most lavish paid scholarships to date.  And in another incentive for engineering graduates who want to pursue research, BTech graduates from IITs, IISERs, IIITs or NITs shortlisted for the PMRF will be eligible to directly pursue PhD at IITs or IISc, Bengaluru.  The PMRF includes monthly scholarships of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 and annual research grants of Rs 2 lakh for select scholars.

The Centre has approved an allocation of Rs 1,650 crore for these fellows to be spent over three years.   Apart from 1,000 annual scholarships under the scheme, the government is also planning to upgrade research facilities at the IITs and IISc. Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said the scheme, announced in the Budget and approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, will pave the way for BTech graduates or graduates from integrated-MTech or MSc in science and technology streams to be offered “direct admission in PhD programme at the IITs/ IISc”.  The minimum eligibility for aspirants will be a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 8.5. The minister said that the scheme will be rolled out from the 2018-19 academic session. – Courtesy

India must tap its engineers to achieve ‘smart’ manufacturing: CEO at SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systemes

Business Standard | IANS  |  Los Angeles | February 6, 2018 |  India must tap its engineers to achieve ‘smart’ manufacturing: Global CEOs |

As 3D printing appears set to transform the manufacturing sector globally, including in India, top global executives have emphasised that the country should invest in its talented pool of engineers to achieve “smart” manufacturing goals. While the global 3D printing industry is pegged at somewhere between $4 billion and $5 billion, market intelligence solutions firm 6Wresearch predicts that India’s 3D printer prototyping and materials market will hit $79 million by 2021. Manufacturing today is a $12 trillion market globally which 3D printing — or Additive Manufacturing (AM) — is set to disrupt, and India has a bigger role to play, the corporate honchos say.  “India produces the best engineers in the world. When it comes to manufacturing, the country should tap into its talent pool to help it move towards ‘smart’ manufacturing. Not just 3D printing, adopting automation and robotics will further boost India’s manufacturing dreams,” Gian Paolo Bassi, CEO at SOLIDWORKS, Dassault Systemes, told IANS.

He, however, lamented the lack of global talent when it comes to design for 3D printing.  “In order to succeed, we need to fast prepare a qualified workforce and research institutes, universities and colleges globally must nurture the talent towards New Age technologies,” added Bassi, who spearheads the development of future product and technology strategies designed for the desktop and the Cloud. Bassi was speaking on the sidelines of the annual “SOLIDWORKS World 2018” conference here that saw the gathering of over 5,000 members of the SOLIDWORKS community. SOLIDWORKS, offered by France-based Dassault Systemes — a leader in 3D design and engineering software — covers all aspects of product development process: Design, verification, sustainable design, communication and data management – all with a seamless, integrated workflow.

According to Stephen Nigro, President, 3D Printing Business, HP Inc., the prospects of 3D printing are very bright for India. “Although relatively a small market at the moment, India offers a fantastic opportunity for 3D printing in the years to come.  HP’s latest 3D printers are now available in the Indian market and we will ramp up our efforts to reach out to industry stakeholders,” Nigro told IANS. HP and Dassault Systemes announced a unique collaboration where the two companies aim to optimise Dassault Systemes industry-leading “SOLIDWORKS 3D” design and engineering applications to take advantage of the unique capabilities of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing solutions. While India’s manufacturing activities in product design, R&D and assembling has the potential to reach $1 trillion by 2025, a third of Dassault Systemes’ R&D capacity is supported by its facilities in India. “We are doing a lot of research in design technology in India. What excites me is that there is lot of focus on design for 3D printing in the country. One has to start from design to succeed in the 3D printing business,” Bassi noted. Dassault Systemes is bullish on India when it comes to training and nurturing young start-ups working in the 3D-printing space. Indian mechanical engineering schools are among the highest adopters of SOLIDWORKS software — a solid modelling computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) computer programme.

Dassault Systemes is also helping the thriving start-up community via incubators in the country. The company is also planning to forge partnerships with academic universities to create more visibility for better outreach. Last month, it partnered with the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corp (APSSDC) to set up a “3DEXPERIENCE” centre to prepare industry-ready students. The centre will enhance the employability skills of the engineering and polytechnic (diploma) students on its “3DEXPERIENCE” platform for the fields of aerospace and defence, automotive and ship-building. The aerospace and defence industry in India is one of the fastest-growing in the world with a significant push to indigenous manufacturing. The “3DEXPERIENCE” platform helps businesses design and test in a simulated production environment so that they can efficiently plan, produce and manage resources. (Nishant Arora is in Los Angeles on the invitation of Dassault Systemes. He can be contacted at nishant.a@ians.in) –  Courtesy    /  www.solidworks.com/Information        /      http://www.solidworks.in/

Engineering graduates have poor awareness of research: Study by Aspiring Minds

The Economic Times |Saumya Bhattacharya| ET BureauJan 29, 2018 | Opinion |

NEW DELHI: Engineering students in India have poor awareness about research in their field and they don’t get enough guidance to build careers in research, according to a study which has revealed that less than three in 10 top engineering graduates in India are aware of any international research journal or conference in their field of study. The number slips to a meagre 22% for students beyond the top 50, it has found.  The findings of the study are based on a qualitative survey conducted among top engineering undergraduates to understand their awareness of research in their field of study. The students were identified on the basis of their scores in AMCAT, India’s largest employability assessment test conducted by Aspiring Minds. The survey considered only the top 15% or 3,000-4,000 AMCAT assessed students.

The study was conducted as part of the book ‘Leading Science and Technology: India Next?’ written by Varun Aggarwal, co-founder of Aspiring Minds. As per the study, as many as 81% engineers have no clue about any prominent researcher in their field of study. “There is considerable focus on engineering, medicine or management as top career options.  However, a research career is lacklustre in India,” Aggarwal said. “The first and foremost reason for this is lack of awareness of the importance of research, how it happens and why it is exciting.” The main reason for lack of awareness about research, according to the study, is the lack of critical mass of researchers in India to voice their opinion on science and technology.- Courtesy

Indian American Technologist Nambi Seshadri Honored with the IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal

India-West Staff Reporter |

Nambi Seshadri

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers recently announced that it has awarded Nambi Seshadri with its prestigious Alexander Graham Bell Medal. Seshadri, Indian American chief technologist at San Jose, Calif.-based Quantenna Communications Inc., was selected for the honor for his exceptional contributions to wireless, networking and engineering. In addition to this high honor, Seshadri’s prize consists of a gold medal, a bronze replica, a certificate, and an honorarium, according to a Quantenna Dec. 5 news release. “The innovations by Nambi form the basis for some of today’s Wi-Fi and other wireless networking standards and systems, now in use by billions of Wi-Fi users,” said Dr. Sam Heidari, chairman and chief executive at Quantenna. “We are honored to have such a distinguished and accomplished chief technologist on our team. The process is extraordinarily competitive, this is a great lifetime accomplishment and one of the most prestigious honors that one may receive in our field.”

In addition to serving as chief technologist to Quantenna, Seshadri is a professor of electrical and computer engineering for U.C. San Diego. Prior to Quantenna, Seshadri was senior vice president and chief technology officer of the broadband and connectivity group at Broadcom Corporation where he was responsible for many of the wireless initiatives, spearheading the development of technologies such as 2G, 3G and 4G cellular communications, mobile multimedia, low-power WiFi and many others, IEEE said. From 2011-2014, he also served as the general manager of the Mobile Platforms Business Unit. Prior to joining Broadcom Corporation, he was a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Lab Laboratories and head of communications research at AT&T Shannon Labs, where he contributed to fundamental advances in wireless communication theory and practice. He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2000 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering USA in 2012 and as a foreign member of the Indian National Academy of Engineering in 2013.

A graduate of the Regional Engineering College in Tiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu, India, and the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Seshadri holds about 200 patents. He was a co-recipient of the IEEE Information Theory Paper Award in 1999 for his paper with Tarokh and Calderbank on space-time codes, and his JSAC paper on space-time coding modems with Naguib, Tarokh and Calderbank was selected by the IEEE Communication Society for publication in “The Best of the Best: Fifty Years of Communications and Networking Research” in 2003. The IEEE Alexander Graham Bell Medal was established in 1976 by the IEEE Board of Directors in commemoration of the centennial of the telephone’s invention, to provide recognition for outstanding contributions to telecommunications, according to the institute’s website. The invention of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 was a major event in electrotechnology. It was instrumental in stimulating the broad telecommunications industry that has dramatically improved life throughout the world. As an individual, Bell himself exemplified the contributions that scientists and engineers have made to the betterment of mankind, IEEE said.- Courtesy

IIT-Madras offers glimpse into its research labs

The Hindu | Sangeetha Kandavel  |  CHENNAI | January 06, 2018 |

Students throw light on research work carried out over the years

For the first time, Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M), has opened the doors of its research laboratories to the outside world. More than 10 departments, including mathematics, chemistry, aerospace engineering, applied mechanics and computer science and engineering, pulled up the shutters of their hi-tech laboratories inside the campus and showed the research work that has been happening here over the years.  At the department of computer science and engineering, research students were taking up innovative studies that will help the defence, IT, healthcare and telecommunications sectors. Mari Ganesh Kumar M., a Ph.D student, is pursuing brain research work with the help of data. Arun Baby, who is doing his masters in computer science and engineering department, is researching on a proper system for text to speech. “This interface is being built in 13 languages, including Tamil, Bengali and Marathi, and can help visually impaired people. Firms like Indus OS are using this technology,” Arun said.

 Several applications

Speaker recognition is another interesting area that the department is pursuing. Saranya Sundaresan Malarvizhi, a Ph.D student, explained how voice can be used as biometric (similar to finger biometric). This, she says, can help the defence sector, banks and will also be useful ffor orensic purpose. “There are several challenges like impersonation, and one can record their voice and replay. The second part of my research is to offer a counterattack to these challenges,” she added.  Karthik Pandia D.S., PhD student at the computer science and engineering department, is doing research on ‘key word spotting.’ Citing an example, he said that one can use this to spot keywords in a meeting or even during a phone call and track the pattern of words used. At the aerospace engineering department, students and scholars were busy at the workshop and were spotted wearing ear plugs. Arun Kumar R., a Ph.D student, said, “We are studying wave patterns which would help in space and defence applications.” Prof. M.S. Sivakumar, Dean (Students), IIT Madras, said, “A school student may get inspired by the fun of discovery that happens here, a college student would see it as an opportunity to see how the various challenges society faces are addressed, a casual observer would notice the intricacies, the depth and details that researchers at the IIT go into to understand and solve problems or to create a solution.” – Courtesy

Konkan Railway, IIT-Bombay tie-up to strengthen Tunnel Technology institute

Money Control News | Dec 20, 2017  | Source: PTI  |  Konkan Rail, IIT-B tie-up to strengthen tunnel tech institute |

Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta and IIT-B Director Prof D V Khakhar signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the premier engineering institution here yesterday.

The Konkan Railway has signed an MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) to make its George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology in Goa a world-class centre of knowledge in tunnel and underground structure technologies. Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) Chairman and Managing Director Sanjay Gupta and IIT-B Director Prof D V Khakhar signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the premier engineering institution here yesterday.

Under the MoU, IIT-B will offer technical support to the Konkan Railway to strengthen the George Fernandes Institute of Tunnel Technology (GFITT) at Madgaon in Goa, a release issued by KRCL said. Underlining the objectives of the collaboration with IIT-B, a spokesperson of KRCL said they want to develop GFITT into a world-class premier centre of knowledge in tunnel and underground structure technologies.  “We also want to provide an opportunity to under- graduate and post-graduate scholars of IIT-Bombay to gain a practical experience and participate in the research and development programmes in tunnelling and underground spaces,” he said. The institute has been named after former railway minister George Fernandes, who is said to be the driving force behind the Konkan Railway, the release said. –  Courtesy

Indian-American, Kaushik Sengupta gets top Bell Labs Prize for pioneering transceiver technology

News India Times |  Staff Writer |  

An Indian-American Princeton University professor has been awarded a prestigious prize for his pioneering work on transceiver technology. Kaushik Sengupta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at Princeton University, was the top winner in the 2017 Bell Labs Prize, winning a $100,000 award for his invention of transceiver chip technology that has the potential to improve wireless communications and open the door for new applications by reducing size and cost. The Bell Labs Prize recognizes disruptive technology innovations with the potential to solve critical challenges faced by humanity over the next ten years. This year’s competition, the fourth since the award’s inception, attracted more than 330 proposals from 35 countries. Sengupta will be given the opportunity to collaborate with researchers at Nokia Bell Labs to develop his research into the next generation of integrated technology employing extremely high frequency waves, a Dec. 14, press release from the University said. A 2007 B.Tech and Integrated M.Tech graduate in electronics and electrical communications engineering, from Indian Institute of Technology, Sengupta did his MS in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology in 2008, and earned his Ph.D from the same institution in 2012. Silicon-based integrated circuits have gone through a generational change in the last ten years, according to Sengupta, who says “We believe future innovations in such diverse high-impact technology will not be achieved through innovations in one discipline, but through mutli-thronged approach and a close alliance of various allied scientific disciplines in a synergistic environment.”

In pursuit of this vision, he adds, “We innovate on both techniques and architectures that can leverage the strengths of concepts and techniques across disciplines and blend them to create novel and high-performance integrated systems.” His research interests including Silicon-based RF, mm-Wave and THz circuits and systems; Onchip active electromagnetic field synthesis and control for sensing and actuation; self-healing and reconfigurable integrated circuits and systems in Silicon; as well as theoretical understanding of fundamental limits of circuits and related systems. Sengupta has received several awards over the course of his career, including the IBM Ph.D Fellowship for 2011-2012, and India’s Prime Minister Gold Medal from IIT Kharagpur in 2007. Nokia announced the top three winners of its fourth annual Bell Labs Prize Dec. 13. This year’s competition attracted more than 330 proposals from 35 countries, which were narrowed down to around 20 semi-final applications shortlisted for collaboration with Bell Labs researchers over a two-month period. These refined semi-final proposals were then reviewed by the Bell Labs leadership team and the nine finalists selected, with each finalist having the chance to extend their collaboration with leading researchers at Bell Labs.  Seven well known scientists from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields chose the three finalists, with Sengupta winning the top spot. – Courtesy