TCS team wins National Science Foundation award in USA
May 28, 2012
TCS have won the “People’s Choice” award at the ninth International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge with their interactive game called Velu the Welder. The international challenge was jointly organized by the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), publisher of journal Science, to celebrate the grand tradition of visualization, specifically for communicating science, engineering and technology for education and journalistic purposes.
The TCS team developed an interactive game called “Velu the Welder” for personal computers and popular gaming consoles to help school drop-outs in India develop a highly marketable trade skill.
The 2011 challenge received over 200 entries from 33 countries in five categories, which were evaluated on the basis of visual impact, effective communication of a scientific idea and overall originality. Visualizations with the most votes from the public received the People’s Choice award. This year for the first time, participants were permitted to submit entries online, while the public was allowed to vote for their favorite images as “People’s Choice” winners.
The awards criteria were also based on the visual impact, originality and clarity. The entries weren’t just limited to photographs. Contest categories also included illustrations, informational graphics, videos and interactive video games.
Ajoy Mukherjee, Executive Vice President & Head, Global Human Resources, TCS, said, “The advancement of information technology tools combined with visualization and innovation enhances the effectiveness of learning especially in the area of vocational training.” He added, “At TCS we try to foster a culture of innovation and create space and opportunities where individuals are able to bring fruition to their thoughts and ideas. The award-winning interactive game Velu the Welder is one such example where TCSers have combined the power of visualization and technology to bring about an innovative learning method.”
A committee of members from Science and NSF screened the entries and, in a new departure this year, the selected finalists were posted on NSF’s website and visitors were invited to vote for their top choice in each category. A total of 3200 votes came in; entries that received the most votes were named the “People’s Choice.” Independently, an outside panel of experts in scientific visualization reviewed the finalists and selected the winners.
Note on “Velu the Welder”
Welding is a method used for binding metal or non-metal structures. In this game, an apprentice, who goes by the name Velu, gets basic training in the art of welding. The game is designed to expose a person to basic skill sets aimed at getting acquainted with the craft of welding. Developed as a technology demonstrator for the National Skills Development Initiative of India, this game could be used to train millions of apprentices in a cost-effective way. The objective of the game is to introduce the apprentice to two types of welding — gas and arc and is designed to have five tasks. In the first two tasks, he learns hand coordination and movement using gas welding. In the remaining sets, he is exposed to arc welding to join four metal pieces together to build a frame. The game is best played using a Nintendo Wii Remote, which mimics the actual welding gun. The console’s motion-sensing controller makes players feel like they’re holding a real welding torch.
Learning to weld takes patience and nimble fingers. Some time spent on a Wii gaming console might not hurt, either. In this interactive challenge, the brainchild of developers at TCS in Chennai, India, players step into a virtual apprentice workshop. They follow in the footsteps of Velu, a young Indian man getting a crash course in welding. The aim is to provide marketable skills to school dropouts in India.