Cutting Edge, IIT’s annual event manages to draw the crowds every year. The event hosts some of the most creative exhibits IIT students have to offer. While previous years featured a big exhibition, 2020 took a different turn. The coronavirus pandemic prompted IIT to host the big event entirely virtual. Here’s how IIT Cutting Edge 2020 fared.
Organizing an event of this magnitude is a challenging task on its own. Putting it together amidst a global pandemic only adds to the hassle. Nisal Sudila, Chairman of the IIT Student Committee pointed out that among the main concerns were how well the experience could translate to the virtual environment. He further added that “even the organizing committee couldn’t meet physically. So the planning was also done entirely virtually”. Fast forward a few months later, the latest iteration of Cutting Edge unfolded, as it always does.
A showcase for student creativity
As expected, the main attraction was the project showcase section. This is where IIT students would exhibit their projects to the public. Participation was open for students across all grades and all streams. Of course, COVID-19 meant that students were unable to showcase these projects physically. Undeterred, IIT opted for the online route. All the projects were exhibited online via a dedicated webpage on the Cutting Edge in IIT website.
The projects on display tackled many areas from the tech industry. These included robotics, machine learning, image processing, cybersecurity, big data, data science, deep learning, sentiment analysis, customer service, entrepreneurship, etc. As with previous editions, the best projects were recognized at the end of the event. Additionally, this year also recognized the most popular project based on social media shares. You can view the entire list of winners by clicking here.
Tackling hot topics with a side of fun
It wasn’t just about the student projects. Cutting Edge 2020 also had a livestream featuring several webinars. These webinars aimed to tackle some of the trending topics in the tech industry today. The event hosted eight such webinars. There were four sessions per day conducted by industry professionals and IIT alumni in a studio setting. Topics included cyber security on IoT and smart cities, business models on urban innovation, practical Arduino sessions for IoT, etc.
Alongside these webinars, Cutting Edge 2020 also hosted a gaming contest, where matches were broadcasted during the livestream. The community were given the chance to take part in the GameFest to grab the top prize while showing off their gaming prowess. The titles included many popular titles like DOTA, Call of Duty Mobile, and even recent games like Valorant. Also featured on the livestream was a quiz, which covered a wide array of topics ranging from general knowledge to software development.
Getting school students to code and pitch their ideas
Alongside the main event, Cutting Edge 2020 featured a number of other segments. One of them was a business pitching competition, which had two tracks for school students and IIT students. The goal was to encourage them to pitch their ideas, ones that they might not have the means of building. With a prize pool of Rs. 15,000 the theme was “Creativity and Innovation to Build a Sustainable Future” and the pitches were overseen by a panel of industry experts.
The winner of the track for school students was Shenal Kumarwadu from St. Benedict’s College. The 1st runner up award for the school students track went to the team of Rushada Rafeek, Amanda Fernando, and Uthayakumar Jemima from OkI International school – Wattala. The winner of the IIT track was Dinu Sudharaka Perea with the 1st runner up and 2nd runner up awards going to Jittendran Jude Sajith Hector and M.Brian K. Anupama Fernando respectively.
Another segment took the form of a coding competition. Here, students had the opportunity to showcase their coding skills in a competitive setting. The competition consisted of 3 rounds. The 1st and 2nd rounds took place online on Hackerrank with the finals being a live buzzer round. Winners of the IIT Cutting Edge competition were awarded IIT scholarships.
A successful digital experiment
With the coronavirus pandemic, IIT Cutting Edge 2020 transformed into a massive virtual event, a first for the Informatics Institute of Technology. In many ways, this was a digital experiment for the university. Thankfully, the two-day event’s livestream successfully ran in continuous eight-hour stints on both days without any breaks.
Furthermore, this was a true “by the students, for the students” type of event that had to be put together from scratch. Even the website which hosted the entire event had to be built from the ground up by the students.
Throughout the whole ordeal, the lecturers only played a supervisory role, primarily acting as the mediation between the student body and the management. As Janice Abeykoon, Lecturer at IIT puts it, “We at IIT aim to mould well-rounded students. So, they are geared to handle challenging situations like these.”
With that marks the conclusion of IIT Cutting Edge for 2020. Here’s hoping for an equally interesting edition of Cutting Edge for 2021.