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STEP Skills Competition: A congregation of innovators

  • Published at 10:25 pm June 16th, 2019
Some of the participants with their projects on display at the STEP Skills Development Competition, organized in Dhaka's Bangabandhu International Conference Centre on Sunday, June 16, 2019 Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Of the total projects, 487 were shortlisted under 13 categories in the second stage, and ultimately 52 were selected for the finals

The day was not just like another day for three classmates-cum-besties: Rabeya Akter, Sanjida Khatun, and Mukta Akter as they joined a national level contest on innovation. 

They are students of 8th semester of diploma in electronic engineering at Dhaka Mohila Polytechnic Institute. They were both excited, and tense as the contest turned out to be a nail-biting affair.

The event titled “STEP Skills Development Competition-2018” started at 9am, and continued without any break till 5:20pm at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka on Sunday. 

By 12pm, the venue became packed with students, researchers and entrepreneurs, creating a buzzing atmosphere in an already hot and humid day that left many participants sweating due to ‘nervousness’. 

Some 52 teams from different polytechnic institutes made it to the final round. The contest in the opening stage drew 2,428 projects from 167 institutes from across the country. 

Of the total projects, 487 were shortlisted under 13 categories in the second stage, and ultimately 52 were selected for the finals. 

Rabeya, Sanjida, and Mukta came up with the idea of generating power from moving vehicles while crossing the traffic signals, and to use it to light up roadside lamps. 

“We managed to generate electricity from the weight of motorised vehicles using piezoelectric sensors planted a foot underground, which will transfer the energy to batteries, and then to lampposts,” they said.

According to them, each 10 kgs of the vehicles will produce at least 0.4 volts.   

The innovation of Ibrahim Sheikh, Swadhin Molla, and Arman Molla of Gopalganj Model Polytechnic was quite “tricky” as they have invented an electric mosquito trap. 

The device, which costs merely Tk250, has a lamp with a fan atop, attracts mosquitoes and other insects towards it, and the fan crushes them. 

Terming the mosquito trap eco-friendly, Md Ashrafuzzaman, supervisor of  the group, said it is much better and eco friendly than the mosquito coils and repellents, as it does not create any smoke or bad odor.

“It does not even have any risk of fire incidents,” he added. 

A team from Pabna-based Institute of Technology and Textile Engineering invented something rather crucial for the environment: "brick kiln's polluted air filter".

Endorsed by a Rajshahi University professor, the filter can absorb up to 57% carbon dioxide, massively reducing the rampant emission of the harmful gas. 

It takes up to ten days to prepare a sample of the device at an estimated cost of Tk2,500, while its commercial production may need a month for around Tk30,000.  

The government has been implementing the Skills and Training Enhancement Project (STEP) since 2010, jointly funded by Bangladesh and Canada governments, and the World Bank. The project is scheduled to end December next. 

The maiden edition of the competition was held in 2014. 

The winners:

Aeronautical Institute of Bangladesh (AIB) of Dhaka bagged the first prize for innovating “pollution ink” which is made from gases emitted by vehicles. 

The second prize went to Sirajganj’s Institute of Marine Technology for innovating "power-driven fertilizer scatterer" for modern agriculture, with Chattogram Polytechnic Institute coming third for their “firefighting robots” which it dubbed Bangladesh Robot Force.