Young Achievers

Biomosq inventors

Three enterprising youth — T. Naveen Prakash, V. Kailash (third year students of electronics and communications engineering) and B. Vinoth (third year student of mechanical engineering) — of the Velammal Engineering College, Chennai have developed Biomosq, an insecticide that can destroy mosquito larvae, and has a longer shelf life than currently available mosquito repellants. This invention won them the first prize of Rs.100,000 at Techknow 2010, staged by the All India Manufacturers’ Organisation’s Tamil Nadu State level Board (AIMO-TNSB) and Anna University (AU) last April at the AU campus.  More than 500 teams from 80 engineering colleges in the state participated in the two-day Techknow 2010 conclave.

“Statistics indicate that every 40 seconds, a child in India dies of malaria. We wanted to innovate a product that would be beneficial to society,” says Naveen Prakash, speaking on behalf of the team.

The product conceptualised by the creative trio has been winning accolades since early 2009 when it was first presented as a paper in several symp-osia in engineering colleges across Tamil Nadu. On December 22, 2009, Biomosq was presented at Genesis 2010, a social business plan competition organised by C-Tides, the entrepreneurship cell (e-cell) of IIT-Madras, where it was awarded second prize of Rs.75,000.

A lot of hard work and research has gone into Biomosq, with sustained encouragement from Velammal college faculty. “We manufactured a biomaterial in our college laboratory which has the same physical and biochemical charac-teristics as haemoglobin in human blood and therefore attracts mosquitoes. The biomaterial is placed bene-ath two fine-wired grids separated by a tiny gap and is housed in a black, plastic-coated cylindrical device.  When a mosquito enters the space between the wire grids, an electric current flows and electrocutes it,” says Naveen.

The trio is now working on patenting Biomosq and raising funds to commercialise their research. “We have already drawn up a business plan and are hoping to receive funds from business incubators to set up a firm. If things go according to plan, we will release the product in the market at a price of Rs.600 per unit. Simultaneously, we are working on other user-friendly products that will serve society,” says Kailash.

With mosquito-borne diseases on the rise countrywide, Biomosq might well be just what the doctor ordered.

Hemalatha Raghupathi (Chennai)

Alpana Dubey

The common admission test (CAT) or entrance exam of the country’s nine highly-rated Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), simultaneously held in 32 cities countrywide in January 2010, proved a breeze, at least for one of the 211,000 students who wrote the test. Pune-based Alpana Dubey passed it with flying colours, to be included in the 80 percentile plus group.

This excellent performance qualifies her for admission into IIMs at Bangalore, Calcutta, Indore, Shillong and Lucknow. Yet her achievement is particularly noteworthy because Alpana is visually impaired. She lost total vision when she was in class X, after a surgery for hydrocephalus went horribly wrong in 2008.

Although losing her eyesight was a crushing blow and it took Alpana quite a while to come to terms with the tragedy, she was made of sterner stuff. “I was passionate about studies and so my first concern was to find a way to continue them. I am very grateful to my parents who explored all available options and introduced me to a software package called Job Access with Speed  which enabled me to work indepen-dently on a personal computer. This software converts text matter into speech and voice. With this know-how I managed to average 82 percent in my class X board exam,” says Alpana, whose father Prem Narayan is a principal scientific officer in the defence ministry and mother Mamta a home-maker. The only daughter of the family, of her two brothers one is an engineer and the other an engineering student.

Preparing for CAT was Alpana’s next big goal and she put in long hours of study. “It was a gruelling experience and I would often weep with frustration. In particular, learning maths without vision is a great challenge,” she recalls. Looking back, she believes she couldn’t have cracked CAT without the support of her  family and especially her teacher Vinita Pansare, who guided her through this toughest of exams.

For this determined and plucky young lady who has recovered her spirit and joi de vivre after suffering a tragedy which would have completely demor-alised most mortals, the sky is the limit to her ambition. “Although I have the option of studying at one of the IIMs, I am inclined to acquire an MBA from one of Pune’s reputed institutions, since I don’t want to move out of this city. I will use the business management skills I acquire for nation and society-building. The important lesson I have learned is that nothing is impossible for people with determi-nation and will,” she says.

The force be with you!

Huned Contractor (Pune)