Exploring New Realms in South Korea: AFE Conference
Nov 06, 2017 | Sahithi Ravipati
Undergraduate students conducting research and presenting their proposals in an International conference is something that is quite unheard of. Two juniors from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Gayatri Vedula and Rounak Rai, recently traveled to South Korea to participate in the International Conference on Alternative Fuel & Energy (ICAFE) conducted at the Daegu University from October 23 to October 25, 2017. They gave their poster presentation on “Optimization of Biodiesel for Waste Cooking Oil by Taguchi Method” which they worked on with their fellow classmate, Dhruthi Varupula.
The project that they had presented was an optimization based project in which they produced biodiesel. They found the optimal values for parameters such as the ratios of oil to methanol in the biodiesel and reaction temperature that is suitable for the reaction.
While working on their project in the institute, they were guided by Prof. S. Murugan, Prof.S.Anabarasu, and a Ph.D. Scholar Mr. Naseem Khayum from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. They helped the trio in writing the paper and guiding them while conducting some of the experiments. They are also co-authors of the paper that has been written. With their help, they conducted nearly all the experiments that they needed on campus in the Thermal Laboratory of the concerned department. As some tests were not available on campus, they had to send few sample for tests outside of the campus in order to successfully perform some experiments. Although they were able to acquire a lot of the equipment by seeking help across various departments, they had to buy some equipment on their own.
Gayatri Vedula, told Team Monday Morning:
We had to arrange equipment from various departments. For example, Professor Debayan Sarkar from the Department of Chemistry helped us by providing the necessary equipment. We got resources such as the cooking oil from the mess and some stirrers from the market and so on.
In order to be able to present their paper at the conference, they first sent in an abstract of their paper to the conference after which they were shortlisted and invited to the conference. The initial process was via email communication. Initially, having submitted an abstract for the Taguchi Method and Fractional Factorial Method, they chose to proceed with the Taguchi method because of the lack of time. On receiving an invitation for the conference, they started their experiment and got ready with their proposals. They were able to present a poster for this project at the conference.
Having reached Daegu on the 22nd of October, they were a day early for the conference. Although the conference primarily took place on the 23rd and the 24th of October, there was a technical tour on the day after and a paper writing workshop the following day by Dr. Eldon R Rene from UNESCO. As they were undergraduate students, one of the chairs Dr. Gopalkrishnan Kumar advised them to attend the workshop as well. On the first two days of the conference, they had the opportunity to listen to multiple guest lectures from people all around the world. They were able to meet various people that have done research in the same domain as them as during the conference they were divided into groups based on their area of research. On the second day of the conference, they were able to present their poster based on which they were evaluated. They were asked various questions about their project and their area of research for which they were graded.
Quoting Rounak Rai,
We learned a lot during the conference as we spoke to students, Ph.D. scholars, and professors from all over the world. We saw that their system was different from as ours as they were more focused on the process and thus produced various results through research. Research is their main priority and not examinations. Practical knowledge is encouraged a lot more than our educational system.
After successfully presenting their work, they were able to relax a bit during the third day when they visited the Daegu waste treatment plant which is the biggest waste plant in South Korea.Although their trip was a success overall, the process did not come easily to them. During their time in South Korea, they were not provided any accommodation and had to find it on their own. The duo told Team MM,
The stay in South Korea was quite good except there was a language barrier owing to which we faced a couple of difficulties.
A major problem that the trio faced was the lack of financial funding from the institute as well as NITRAA and NITROA. Asking as to why they didn’t any funds from the mentioned channels, the duo were quoted as saying
When we sent in our abstract, it was rejected by NITROA as they were only willing to sponsor those going to IEEE and SAE conferences. This was a rather new conference so they did not fund us. When we sent in our abstract to NITRAA we received a similar response from them as well.
Another problem that they faced was the lack of lab slots. Ph.D. students were not always available to help them in their lab due to which their experiments sometimes got delayed.
After overcoming different difficulties, they were successfully able to present their posters. The results are set to be declared around the second week of November. They will also be submitting their final paper according to the prescribed template from ICAFE. Team MM wishes them all the best for all their future endeavors.