Karur Engg Students bag IIT Prize for devising Railway signal sighting aid

TIRUCHCHIRAPPALLI: Loco pilots facing trouble sighting railway traffic signals during winter due to fog was among the prominent issues mentioned in the “railway problem statement” last year. Committed to evolving a solution for the issue, three engineering students from Karur district came out with the idea of a device.

The students suggested transmission of signals from the device in the loco cabin to signals and station masters. This would help the loco pilot know the signals without seeing them through his naked eye while on the move.

A prototype of their idea named “Smart signalling and interlocking for railways,” won the first prize at the tech expo 2018 held at Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. The event was part of Tech nich 2018, the annual techno-management festival of IIT Guwahati. The prize came with Rs 70,000 in cash for the three-member team from M Kumarasamy College of Engineering, Karur.

Fascinated with the railways, these students have been identifying issues on the functioning of the transport behemoth and devising solutions from their first year itself. One of the team members, S Karthikeyan, said that an in-plant training opportunity in the diesel loco shed at Erode had exposed them to the technical aspects of the functioning of railways. “We decided to focus on the visibility issues of traffic signals faced by the loco pilot which was among the prominent issues listed in the railway problem statement,” said Karthikeyan.

The team is planning to launch a start-up company to offer solutions to several such issues faced by the railways. Another member, S Umasankar, said that the idea of enhancing the vigilance control device (VCD) with realtime data on the loco pilot of a particular train was also well-received at the tech expo.

Karthikeyan said that it was their fascination for railways that had driven them thus far. While they had been planning to join railways after studies, now they feel they can do much more by way of their start up.