Blossoming ingenuity | Sunday Observer

Blossoming ingenuity

They came from all walks of life and all parts of the island - schoolchildren, university students, housewives, personnel from armed forces, businessmen and many others. All converged in one place proudly presenting ideas, simple and complex.

Inventing is a skill which surpasses all separatist barriers – age, sex, colour, ethnicity and many more. Inventors use their thinking power to bring about a change in the world. And that’s exactly what they did at ‘Sahasak Nimavum’ the national inventors’ competition held recently, bringing solutions for the day to day problems that individuals face as well as for those faced by the public, locally and globally.

Nearly 350 inventions competed against each other to win the coveted ‘Dasis’ award under four categories, school; university and tertiary education institutes; open and commercial. ‘Dasis’ is a name attributed to King Ravana of Sri Lanka, believed to have invented the ‘dandumonaraya,’ a flying machine. The best invention from each category would win cash prizes starting with Rs. 200,000/=for the school category to Rs. 800,000/= for the commercial category.

The competitors presented their inventions under 14 different technical fields, namely, public safety welfare and national defence; food technology; traditional medicine; physics; chemistry; medicine and pharmacy; public works and infrastructure engineering; information and communication; applied sciences and technology; environmental conservation; engineering; agriculture; energy and transportation. The Sunday Observer met P.L. Yugendran and G.B. Asitha Chamika from Haldummulla, Badulla, at the entrance of the Exhibition & Convention Centre. They had invented a Floor Levelling Machine. Being Grade 8 students of Ananda Central College, Haldummulla, they had seen houses and other buildings coming up in their community, and the hard labour needed for the preparation of the plot after the foundation is laid.

“When they fill the foundation with the soil, a long pole is fixed on a flat piece of wood and people spend many hours trying to level out the surface. We want to make life easy for them,” say the two young inventors.

Their invention, made mostly with pieces of metal and motors restored from throw away electronic equipment used in kitchens, performs the same function easily at the press of a switch.

The two young inventors are their own critics. “This is just the beginning. We have lots of ideas on how to develop it for better results,” say the two young men.

They plan to convert it into a mobile unit moving backwards.

Many were the exhibits at the site and the Sunday Observer focused on the inventions by schoolchildren, to encourage the talents of the future.

A pneumatic moringa plucking machine is what P. Pratheesha, a Grade 10 student from Sri Shanmuga Hindu Ladies’ College invented. Seeing that most pods are damaged at the time they are plucked, she used the mechanism in the pressure meter, an ordinary item seen on the table of a medical doctor – to bring a solution to the problem.

Sugundan Kesigan from St. John’s College Jaffna, lives in a two-storey house. “Finding space for plants and watering them is very difficult for those of us living in compact houses,” he says. Therefore, he had found a solution for their dilemma through ‘Movable Agriculture.’ His invention keeps a plant well watered for over a week, in a pot which could be easily carried from one place to another.

Asitha Pansilu Wijeweera, had been thinking of the problems faced by motorists as well as the traffic police. Hailing from Dehiowita, Kegalle, he had not only suffered through traffic congestions in areas where there are no traffic light systems, but also congestions due to spot traffic. “For example, say there is an accident, or even at the end of the school day, there’s a lot of traffic.

This would help the police or anyone else to control and divert the traffic in an emergency,”says Pansilu. The Grade 7 student had invented a Manual Traffic Light System operated by a simple mechanism. Attached to a power system such as solar power, it could operate automatically or could be run manually.

The ‘Smart Helmet’ invented by K. Mugesram not only makes it easy for the rider to control the bike but also sends messages automatically if by any chance the rider meets with an accident.

“The sensors attached to this helmet measures the proximity of other vehicles and sends that data to a lead display attached to the helmet, to make it easy for the rider to choose his path,” says Mugesram. He plans to develop the helmet so that it would also be able to alert the police, with the location of the accident, in such an event.

Two Grade 7 students harness the power of the sun, air and water to propel and operate a boat. The water powered boat using a simple mechanism is the invention of Adithya Shamika and Januth Santhusha from Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda. While solar energy starts the water pumps and enables automatic navigation, water is the only source of fuel the boat uses.

The inventions were judged by a panel of experts. Winners will be announced and will receive their awards at a ceremony in October, said the organisers. Inventors received certificates of participation on the last day of the competition from Dr. Mahesh Edirisinghe, Head of the Sri Lanka Inventors Commission (SLIC) .

One objective of SLIC is to recognise talented or outstanding inventors of the country and introduce them to the world, says Commissioner Edirisinghe.

During the past two years, nearly 200 inventors had presented their inventions at different inventor platforms of the world. “I’m happy to say almost every inventor we sent for these exhibitions and competitions received recognition. In fact, last June we received the World’s Best Invention award at a competition held in Korea,” he comments.

Sending the inventors to participate at world forums would not only expose them to international standards, but would gain acceptance and more recognition for Sri Lanka as a country of innovators.

It had enabled Sri Lanka to be recognized as ‘full members’ of two international organisations of inventors, namely, the International Federation of Inventors’ Associations (IFIA), and the World Inventors Intellectual Property Association(WIIPA).

The memberships would boost Sri Lanka’s position as an ‘innovative’ country in the world, and the economy of the country, both, by selling the inventions to businesses from other countries or bringing in investors to establish businesses within the country.

However, the ultimate goal of the Commission is to transform the inventor and establish him or her as an entrepreneur, says the Commissioner. Two schemes providing financial assistance enhance the capacities of the inventors to make their inventions commercially viable.

The Commission, committed to the purpose supports investors in the process of patenting their inventions, bring the invention or prototype to a marketable stage and once it is marketable to develop and establish it as a business venture.

SLIC provides financial assistance through grants or as zero percent loans to the investors. “This is open to all investors, not only for those who enter the inventors’ competitions,” says the Commissioner.

Sri Lanka might be the only country in the world that fully supports our inventors, he comments, adding that ours is the only group participating as a delegation representing the country, he had seen so far at global events.

The Commissioner’s personal goal for Sri Lankan investors goes beyond the mandate of the Commission. “My dream is that some day, when I ask a child what is your future ambition – to hear that child saying he or she wants to be an inventor, more specifically to be employed in their field of interest and to be an inventor in that field. For example, that child saying I want to be a doctor and want to invent something in that field,” he says.

That would mean recognition for the inventors, the country and society recognising their contribution to the world and hailing them with a high standard in society, aspiring to become like them. “That is the ultimate goal we want to reach,” says the Commissioner.

Proven by the inventions exhibited at the competition, and the international recognition received by our inventors, the day that SLIC reach this ultimate goal would not be far.

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