Saturday, March 15, 2008

CFTRI, Mysore.

6 years back, I scored reasonably well in one silly exam (the state board exam of tenth std) and stood 2nd for the state, I was short by just 9 marks for hundred per cent. That didn't mean anything for me until I got an offer to attend the 2 day visit to CFTRI (Central Food Technological and Research Institute), Mysore. I felt happy that I got such an opportunity and later I came to know that the 1st rank student was to attend a similar programme in NAL, Bangalore and I was to attend in CFTRI. Since I was not interested in aeronautics, I felt that being the second proved better than being the first.

There were 50 such students (the top 50 from icse, cbse and state board exams) in CFTRI. It was a visit organised by the CSIR in all its centres around India (I think so, I've even forgotten the name of the programme, have to go home and check all the files, and the programme is organised every year) to promote interest about pure science in the young minds. I don't think the objective was achieved (I met 2 of those students in bmc, a few in engineering etc. Didn't hear any taking up pure science) but the visit was very good.

My mother and I came to Mysore, we were accommodated in Hotel Siddartha. It was all new to me, I was in Mysore for the first time. On the next day morning, a bus was there to pick up all the students and one guardian of each student, to CFTRI. It was a different world for 2 days. After registration, we had some introductory speech and a scientist called A.S.K.V.N.Sharma took us all around the campus. I don't remember the order of the visits but remember a few of the departments we visited.

1. We went to a unit where milk was converted into powder (or some fluid?). The fluid was being passed through a narrow aperture at high speed in some specified temperature and powder was collecting down. I'm into medicine now and have forgotten most of physics, chemistry and mathematics and hence can't explain the mechanisms. I just remember seeing the unit.

2. We saw chapati making machine, one chapati is done in just half a minute. When there was earthquake in Gujarat, they had prepared food in CFTRI,and in all emergencies, all the resources in CFTRI is employed. The machine was a huge one, mixing of flour, making a sheet of dough, cutting it round into a chapati size, and then dry roasting, everything was done by the machine.

3. There was an idli making machine, not being run when we went, it was a belt of steel with hemispherical depressions to hold the batter; by the time the batter would pass through a steam container, it would be baked in steam. Unfortunately, I don't have photos of any of these.

4. We had been to a spirullina plant, a swimming pool sized plant, they explained about the uses of spirullina etc. Again, I don't remember much. I didn't document anything soon.
5. We saw a scanning electron microscope. In that department, they explained how an electron microscope works etc.

6. We went to a biscuit preparing unit and what I remember now is that they gave 6 biscuits for everyone as we were exhausted touring the whole campus form morning! There were a lot of ovens, biscuit dough was pressed in the required shape and were kept in trays in each ovens.

7. In the evening, we ate dosa prepared from a dosa making machine, and now I feel how good it would have been if there was one such machine during my one year hostel stay in BMC where I had to wait in long queue for just a dosa.

8. After that we went to the department where natural raw materials were used to prepare natural lead free colours to paint for the toys. For eg., carrot was used to generate yellowish orange colour, beet root was used to make red colour, and so on.

9. They had also prepared strong threads from shark bone! It was very thin and very strong. I wondered who got such an idea to convert a shark bone to a thread.

10. There was some perfume making or something and we were asked to smell and identify the odour. Musk, peppermint and other perfumes were there.

Since my brother joined us for the next day, I could understand more of whatever technology I was witnessing. On the next day, there was a science quiz, we made teams of 4 each, I ended up being 4th and I felt the lack of cbse/icse eduction in my life. Later, we had a seminar on copyright and I felt it was useless for a class XI student to know about copyright. Nothing entered into my head.

We were given certificates for attending the workshop, there was function and Prof.Arunachalam from CMU was the guest of honour. There were very short speeches. The 2 day wonders were over and I felt reluctant to go back to hotel. We extended our stay in Mysore for 2 more days and saw all the wonderful places in Mysore. Now I look back at it as one of the best academic visit I had in my life. Thanks to CSIR.

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