Protoprint is a Pune based “social enterprise”, founded by an alumnus of MIT (USA), which has figured out how to take waste plastic from the waste that is picked by the waste pickers in Pune, and convert that into the raw material that is needed by 3D printers, and which can then be used to create any product using the 3D printer.
Protoprint was founded in early 2013 by Sidhant Pai, an environmental engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the summer of 2012, Pai had been researching low-cost recycling technology around the same time his father began dabbling in 3D printing as a hobby.
“[I realized] that 3D printer filament” — the plastic, coil-like material used to mold 3D-printed creations — “was basic in its chemical composition. So, we started looking into whether it was possible to recycle the filament from waste plastic,” he says.
It was. After a brief research period, Pai partnered with Pune, India-based cooperative SWaCH, which employs “pickers” to sort through the city’s waste bins for plastic bottles. They developed a system: After the pickers collect the bottles, workers wash and run them through a FlakerBot shredding machine, and then melt the plastic and spool it into reels of filament.
“This really bridges the gap between cutting-edge technology and grassroots recycling,” Pai says.
The group is in its final stages of its pilot launch, and plans to begin commercial production by the end of the summer.
For more information about Protoprint and what they do, see their website, and their (FAQ)ref2.
In addition to this, they also provide 3D printing consulting and services for educational institutions and companies. Here are details:
We work collaboratively with companies and institutions interested in setting up 3D Printing Services for their students or employees. We set up Print Labs on and off campus, providing access to large format 3D printing facilities at affordable rates. In addition to high quality 3D printers, we offer a fully developed and customizable web portal and a thorough knowledge of the industry. Contact us to see how we might assist your institution.
For educational institutions:
A correctly implemented prototyping hub can provide an incredible value to students and young designers. We consult with educational institutions and schools and provide affordable case by case implementation plans taking into consideration the end use objectives of the institute. We also offer an easy to use web portal that can be customized to individual institutions, providing their students an added measure of accessibility. Contact us to learn more.
and for companies:
High Quality 3D Printers can provide professional designers with an efficient method to prototype and iterate on their designs. We provide companies with a detailed understanding of different 3D printing methods and empower them with targeted information and structure. We also offer fully developed web portal solutions to their employees, making prototyping easier and more intuitive. Contact us for more information.
The Pune Chapter of ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) presents a talk on Computer Ethics and Technology by Dr. Don Gotterbarn, East Tennessee State University, USA. The talk is on Thursday, 31 March, 5:30pm to 7pm, at COEP (Ground Floor Seminar Hall, E&TC Extension Building).
Abstract of the talk – Computer Ethics and Technology
This talk focuses on computer ethics as it relates to the day to day activities of practicing computer professionals (technologist to manager). The emphasis is on real world moral and legal issues for the practicing computer professionals and with a focus on how one resolves these issues. How do you identify professional/ethical problems and how do you make ethical decisions?
About the speaker – Dr. Don Gotterbarn
Don Gotterbarn is the Director of the Software Engineering Ethics Research Institute and Professor Emeritus at East Tennessee State University where he developed and taught in the Master of Software Engineering Program. He is a visiting professor at the Centre for Computing and Social Responsibility in England. He chairs the ACM Committee on Professional Ethics. He worked as an independent computer consultant on software projects for the U.S. Navy, the Saudi Arabian Navy and the commercial sector. He has taught computer courses for NSA, the military, and commercial organizations as well as being a visiting scientist at the Software Engineering Institute. He has also worked on: the certification of software for vote counting machines, missile defense systems, and software development decision support tools.
He also holds academic appointments in software engineering and ethics at universities in England and New Zealand. He has published over 100 articles, contributed to more than a dozen books and written several encyclopedia articles. He chaired the committee that wrote the Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice. His technical work includes funded research on performance prediction, object-oriented testing, and software engineering education and computer ethics.
In addition to being recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) as a distinguished national lecturer, Gotterbarn has been invited to lecture in Australia, China, Great Britain, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden and Wales. He holds faculty appointments in New Zealand and the UK.
Active in Professional Computer ethics for over 20 years, he was awarded both the Computers and Society “Making a Difference” award and the ACM “Outstanding Contribution” award for his work in promoting professionalism in the teaching and practice of software development. Most recently has been recognized by the International Society for Ethics and Information Technology (INSEIT) and will receive the 2010 INSEIT/Joseph Weizenbaum Award for his contributions to the field of information and computer ethics. http://it.tmcnet.com/news/2010/12/16/5200332.htm
Fees and Registration
This event is free and open for anybody to attend. No registration required.
What’s common to Stevie Wonder, Surdas, Helen Keller and Siddhant Chothe, Nitin Dhaware, Sandhya Murkute, Sanghapal Bhowate and Vikas Waghmare? All of them are achievers whose visual impairment did not spell an end to their world. The latter five people form the Team TechVision, ‘a software writing firm’ at the Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya in Pune.
Niwant is doing work in helping not just the visually impaired but society too in understanding their need for empathy and dignity. It is an organization that helps visually challenged students in pursuing higher education after the age of 18. Many of them are branded by their family and society as non-productive and useless. But in last fourteen years ‘Niwant’ has tried to change the picture by putting them back in the social fold. Many are now employed, have families and lead a mainstream life through Niwant efforts. More, they are now contributing back, through the alumni club, ‘So Can Eye’.
TechVision has just completed a paid project from the Silicon Valley, at BoardWalk Tech, a U.S. based company (whose founder, Sarang Kulkarni, recently moved to Pune) and they are raring for more. Sourabh Nolkha, Chief Strategic & Development Officer of Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya waxes eloquent about how it all started.
“14 years back Niwant Andh Mukta Vikasalaya was established to help the visually challenged youth of India get a chance at holistic development in this fast growing new age world. When they did not have any education material, Niwant offered them the opportunity to gain knowledge initially through hand written Braille books and cassette recording for audio. This increased their zeal to study further which made Niwant look further into options of providing more knowledge at a faster rate. Niwant received a Braille Embosser, which opened a new eye for the Visually Challenged as they were able to compete with the sighted world.
The journey of making Visually Challenged students technologically savvy started with Niwant providing them with MP3 players, on which they could record the lessons. With this, Niwant understood the importance of the technology and computers. The students were also fascinated with the potentials it hold for them and the enhancement it could do to their learning process. But some of the students ventured even a step further and opted for Post Graduate Diploma in Computer Application (PGDCA). Then some more followed their footsteps and started early with Bachelor’s in Computer Applications.
Niwant had students capable of making a career in IT but there was a lack of trust by the main-stream IT industry. That is when Niwant, with the help of some friends and volunteers, decided to provide the prospective Techies, a launch-pad and started Tech Vision. We had our first break with BoardwalkTech Inc.”
So how do they learn software programming?
Sourabh says the team comprise of five visually impaired, all of whom have studied computers at their Bachelor degree level or have done special certification program in computer science from renowned Pune University. The curriculum consisted of computer basics, Operating Systems (Linux, Windows), MS Office, Tally and many program languages C, C++, Java, VB, ASP, SQL, HTML, Dot (.) Net.
“In addition to their regular classes at the college, we provided them with additional coaching classes at Niwant with the help of some volunteers and also sent them to specialized computer coaching institutions.”
Sourabh says initially, there was a resistance to the whole idea of visually challenged learning computers. Some of their students had to fight hard to get admission into the computer courses. But finally they could convince the colleges to accept them at par with other sighted students and the students proved their mettle quite frequently, raising their stock value and dissolving prejudices. For the subsequent batches, the going has been smoother.
But it has not been enough just to get the admissions. The course curriculum is not very accommodative of the visually challenged and requires drawings / diagrams, thus limiting the scores of the visually challenged. There was also trouble regarding finding suitable scribes. But in due time, the mindset has undergone a sea change resulting in increased co-operation. The teachers have now started accepting the assignments in electronic form and norms for scribes have also been re-defined.
So Niwant was able to achieve the ultimate? No, says Sourabh, there were yet more challenges waiting for them.
“The licensed version of the audio-aid software like Job Access With Speech (JAWS) was out of reach for most of the visually challenged due to its cost. In addition to this, some of the applications are not supported in totality or partially by the audio-aid software. This was not conducive for their studies. After they had completed their studies, the problem was to find suitable job opportunities which were hard to come by. That is when Tech Vision came as their saviour.”
So what are the software tools they use (specifically for the blind)? Sourabh provides a list.
Job Access with Speech (JAWS) – audio-aid software for windows operating system
Talks and Mobile Speak – audio-aid software for mobile
Abbey – scanning software for better OCR scanning
Win Braille – converts normal English script into Braille script
JAWS Sangeetha – converts normal English script into audio
Shri Patrika from Modular Infotech – converts regional languages into Braille script
The work have they done in one year is impressive too. Other than Boardwalk where they worked on Java Servlets for the BCP Demo Version and Boardwalk Collaboration Platform demonstration version where they still work on Visual Basic for Application for the API development project, they have done an HSBC Sample Accessibility Testing where they conducted a sample web accessibility test case on HSBC Private Bank home page.
The profile of the current staff of Tech Vision is also quite comparable to industry standards. While Siddhant Chothe has completed MCM and has 2 years of work- experience, Nitin Dhaware has completed PGDCA and has 2 years of work exposure. The others, Sandhya Murkute, Vikas Waghmare, and Sanghapal Bhowate are all in their 3rd year B.C.A and have 1 year of part-time work-experience. They also have a visually challenged volunteer Shrirang Shahastrabuddhi, from Infosys Technologies.
The currently capabilities include competence in Visual basic, Java, Oracle, C++, PHP, MySQL, Web Design, Accessibility testing of User Interface, Web Accessibility testing and solutions. (USA 508, WCAG2 guide lines). Niwant is looking for clientele, and any company interested in product development based on VBA, Java, MySQL, PHP etc. and getting their website tested for accessibility under Section 508 of US Rehabilitation Act, 1998 and WCAG2 guidelines, GIGW (Guidelines for Indian Government Websites, 2011) are welcome to tap their talent.
(In this article, Nina Mukherji profiles Harshad Oak, who is very active in the tech community in Pune, who has done many things rather different from what most software technologists usually do, and who has started a number of interesting initiatives. Specifically, we would like to draw our readers’ attention to the TechNoProfits initiative, and his work with the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, which, we hope, at least some of our readers will get involved with.)
Harshad Oak has always chosen the road less travelled. After completing Computer Management in 2001 he worked for IT firms like I-flex & Cognizant for about two years. But he’d always felt a strong urge to venture out and do something on his own. He wrote tech based articles for many newspapers and magazines and even managed to get a number of certifications under his belt.
Harshad then decided to quit his job and set up Rightrix Solutions, a software development firm. By this time, he had also authored a few books on Java and Oracle. This gave him additional credibility and helped him land some good projects for his newly set up firm.
He was invited to participate and speak at various technology conferences abroad. This made him realize the criticality of having such forums in India – such independent conferences were non-existent till then. So with zero experience in the field, he launched the first Annual IndicThreads Conference on Java in 2006. After that they have had many more conferences in the different areas like Mobile Application Development, Upcoming Technology & Software Quality.
Now Rightrix does IT research and advisory services, software outsourcing services, technology portal (IndicThreads), 4 different and technology conferences every year.
Another recent initiative on his part has been starting TechnoProfits – a non-profit entity dedicated to connecting software professionals and NGOs. TechnoProfits enables volunteers to make a positive contribution to society and also come out feeling enriched from the experience. Harshad believes that technology today can connect and enhance lives like never before. “However, most non-profit organisations use no technology beyond making calls from a cell phone. The overwhelming majority of organizations run on passion & dedication but no technology” says Harshad. Please register as a volunteer.
Being of an analytical and rational mind, Harshad abhors superstitious and credulous behaviour. That a ring or pendant will ensure success or modifying their homes so that a bathroom faces X direction will end marital disputes were beliefs that left Harshad feeling frustrated and irritated. “A bathroom door can affect my health only if I accidentally bang into it” he jokes. But this was a serious matter to him and he decided to do something about it.
He started working with Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (ANiS) a 20 year old organisation. Though they have done remarkable work in Maharashtra towards eradicating blind faith and promoting scientific temperament amongst the youth, Harshad believes that technology awareness is very low. “At the recent ANiS 20 year anniversary event, more than a thousand people from all over Maharashtra turned up, but I probably was the only one using the web and writing about the event on my smartphone. I have been pushing for some kind of an Internet awareness workshop so that the ANiS team can not only leverage the net to reach more people but also be able to convey it’s point of view swiftly and accurately” says Harshad
In order to address this need, TechnoProfits is conducting an Internet Awareness Workshop for ANiS this Saturday the 19th of February (1-5 pm). The topics for the workshop include Internet Basics, Search, Email, Chat, Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Using Indian languages Online, and How to make best use of the Internet for social work. Harshad told me: “While the workshop is planned for ANiS, anyone else wishing to use this learning for social good is most welcome”
(You can get in touch with Harshad by emailing harshad aT rightrix doT com)
ThoughtWorks hosts the first edition of Ignite Pune! Imagine you’re on stage. You have 5 minutes, 20 slides advancing every 15 seconds. What is the passionate topic that you would talk about?
On June 19, 2009, 6:00 PM at ThoughtWorks Pune, YOU can have that stage. Any topic that you think is interesting is welcome (no sales pitches or a product demos please!). If you are interested in speaking, email your presentation to firstname.lastname@example.org
The event is free, so if you’re interested in meeting people, learning something new and sharing their passions, RSVP via email.Let’s Ignite Pune! If this will be your first Ignite night, check out others around the world at http://ignite.oreilly.com/
GF-01 and MZ-01, Tower C
Panchshil Tech Park, Yerwada, Pune – 411006
The One Laptop per Child association develops a low-cost laptop—the “XO Laptop”—to revolutionize how we educate the world’s children. Their mission is “to provide educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning.”
Now a bunch of volunteers have banded together to take the OLPC initiative forward in Pune. If you believe in this mission, you should join them. They will have a kickoff meeting on Sunday (1st March 2009) to decide how to take this forward. This would be a good place to find out more about the project and see how you can contribute. You don’t need to be a technical person to contribute.
What: Kickoff meeting for volunteers interested in furthering the cause of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) group in Pune. When: 9am-5pm, Sunday, 1st March, 2009 Where: Room No. 207, Symbiosis Institute of Computer Studies and Research (SICSR), 1st Floor, Atur Centre, Gokhale Cross Road, Model Colony, Pune. Map. Registration and Fees: This event is free for anyone to attend. You are requested to register here.
What: WATBlog Wednesday Pune – a “mixer” for Pune techies to enjoy each others’ company amidst free beer and snacks When: Wednesday, 21st Jan, 7pm onwards Where: Gaia Lounge, Garden of Eden, Sector 20 A, Near Kharadi Mundhwa Bridge, Kharadi, Chandan Nagar Registration and Fees: This event is free for all, but entries are limited, so you must register here.
Why you should attend
We’ve had far too many tech events in Pune where all stand around seriously and exchange business cards. Meeting in a more informal, more social atmosphere would be good for the community. So be there. And use twitter for carpooling.
Note: Those who are afraid of landing up at an event full of “boozers”, have no worries. This is not going to be like your college buddies’ drinking party where everybody gets pissed drunk and throws up on the couch. The free beer is there only to attract the crowd (and believe me it works, even on people with multiple successful startups behind them and millions in the bank), but drinking will be moderate, people will be polite, and there will be no fistfights. (At least amongst the Pune crowd; don’t know about the rowdies coming down from Mumbai…)