Amalthea 2019: a Student-Driven Tech-Fest with a Twist of Community Outreach

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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill, British politician, army officer, writer and Prime Minister of the UK (1940 – 45)

This was the idea in the minds of IIT Gandhinagar students while they were making preparations for Amalthea 2019.

Amalthea, an annual technical summit of IITGN, was founded by the students of this Institute in the year 2010. It is the only technical summit in India that is completely organized and managed by students.

Happening on 19th and 20th October this year on the theme ‘transcending boundaries’, Amalthea’19 aims to foster creative thinking by providing a platform where people can share their thoughts and exhibit their ideas in the form of several innovations. With the vision of providing an interface between academia and industry to connect and discuss pivotal technological prospects, the tech fest intends to inspire young minds so that they can ponder upon the currently existing problems and look for feasible solutions. As the essence of this event, its vision defines what Amalthea is and what it strives to become!

But, there is a twist to it. The Amalthea this year would not just be a tech-fest for students, rather a significant part of it would be focused on social responsibility in collaboration with NEEV, the community outreach program of IIT Gandhinagar.

Following the decennial celebrations of its Institute, Amalthea will be entering double digits this year. 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the country’s premier student-driven technological summit. It has continuously evolved and got bigger and better over the last 10 years.

The organizing team of Amalthea’19 is not leaving any stone unturned to make it a significant landmark in its history. They want it to be homage to the past with an eye towards the future. To add a completely different dimension to it, the students decided to spread knowledge to the underprivileged village communities that surround the Institute, as a part of this fest.

“This is something that was never done before by the Amalthea Team. The idea is to promote activities related to social welfare. We needed a head start which was provided by NEEV and we came up with the Spoken-English Sessions for IITGN Security guards, who are the residents of these villages,” said Ajinkya Pawar, B.Tech student in Computer Science Engineering and member of the Amalthea core committee.

NEEV (Nurture and Empower Entrepreneurial Ventures) has been conducting entrepreneurship and skill development projects for the grassroots communities surrounding the institute since 2014. According to Soumya Harish, coordinator of the NEEV program, “When the Amalthea team approached us regarding this activity, we were more than happy to collaborate. The modules developed by NEEV are delivered by the student volunteers with the help of our expert trainer. Around 35-40 student volunteers have participated in these sessions so far. This has turned out to be a wonderful opportunity to involve more students in community engagement.”

Comprising of four sessions of two hours each, this workshop spreads over a span of one day per week for three weeks. Starting with common introduction, where the participants are taught how to translate simple sentences from their native languages into English, it progresses towards the dos and don’ts of effective communication keeping in mind the target audience. This is capped with the general question/ answers and feedback session for the participants. The participants are given enough time between these sessions to implement what they learn, not only in their professional lives but personal lives also.

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“IIT Gandhinagar gets visitors from around the world and their first point of contact is our security guards. In such cases, English speaking becomes an important part of their communication process. So, we decided to organize this workshop, wherein we teach Basic English to the security guards and familiarize them with various apps which would help them to learn this language with ease,” Viraj Shah (B.Tech student in Mechanical Engineering and Event Management Executive) and Shivanshu Sharma (B.Tech student in Electrical Engineering and Event Drift Organizer), added further.

The primary objective of this tech fest is to spread knowledge among masses with the help of technology. The development of technology and its applications has surpassed the human imagination. Currently, the world is in the midst of a revolution that is continuously striving to make the latest technology accessible to everyone in all dimensions. With the help of some outreach activities, the students at IIT Gandhinagar plan to expand the scope of its reach to the grassroots communities as well. The Institute acknowledges the necessity of inventions and innovations for the evolution of humankind, and, ‘transcending boundaries’ represents the possibility of limitless reformations and innovations that surround us all.

In the words of one of the participants, “These sessions are guiding us on how to learn spoken English by utilizing several mobile apps. We are learning how to interact with visitors in a crisp and efficient manner. This workshop has been useful to us and we would encourage others like us to take part in such initiatives in the future.”

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 Amalthea is renowned for its series of events and symposiums, focused on spreading awareness about a wide diversity of topics related to general knowledge and technical importance. Students from all over the country collaborate and compete for attractive prizes and awards. Another platform in this fest is the Tech Expo, which sees a wide range of companies, inventors, and industrial and government organizations come together and showcase the prowess of technology by presenting their works. The conclave at Amalthea organizes dialogues and discourses on various techno-managerial spheres so as to foster inquisition and creativity among people. It hosts eminent speakers, visionaries and leaders who provide great insight into creative and feasible solutions for the burning problems of the present times. The inclusion of community outreach initiative this year has broadened Amalthea’s scope of spreading knowledge and education to all.

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” – Howard Zinn, American historian, playwright, and socialist thinker