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Students creative workshop - Perspectives on field visits to Pedhapur and Manekpur

The team which constituted of 8 school students and 11 engineering students which visited two villages Pedhapur and Manekpur. In the village Pedhapur the team interacted with multiple manufacturers and workshop workers which is mentioned below. The team was given a brief orientation by Professor Anil Gupta on openness and observation. After the field visit, the school children and the college students were made to brainstorm first independently and then mutually to share their insights and the problems which everyone observed. For each of these problems, students brainstormed and drawed solutions which Professor Anil Gupta listened very patiently and gave constructive feedback to everyone.

Image of 11 engineering students and 8 school students all set to explore the fields of Pethapur and Manekpur

Visit to Umiya Traders Pvt Ltd in Pethapur

Field Description:

The team went to Umiya traders which is known for their iron pipes, bamboo pipes and wood pipes. They were also selling cement beams for construction and other iron made structures. So, the place the team visited was the selling shop where all the items were on display for sale but were manufactured at a far off place.

Perspective by engineering students: According to the group of engineering students, the owner told them the problem of shortage of labor. So the labor is arranged on need basis from a nearby stand, from where other people also take up the labor. But since most labor go to the cities for higher margins, sometime the local region face the deficit. Second which the team identified was that of loading and unloading heavy metal pipes, wooden pipes and cement beams by the labor on/from the truck. After discussing the team to help the labor reduce their load and transfer the material safely and more efficiently, the team brainstormed for ideas and came up with thoughts of a belt to hold man rods together and carry it easily.

Perspective by school students: The children quietly observed the whole field and asked very few questions. But later all of us found that they had observed a lot. They noticed that the iron rods could rust in the rain so we all should do something about it. It was so honest and practical problem which the children observed as they mentioned that there was no shed over the rods and the material which was being stored. As reported by the owner, they also noted the problem of lack of labor which they later told us during the discussion. They observed problems which the team of engineers couldn’t see with a sense of relatedness which the group of engineering students couldn’t demonstrate. It made us all ponder, if it was the children who were more empathetic and open or our engineering students have got a narrow field of view.

Visit to iron pellets making workshop

Field Description: The groups then went to a workshop for making iron hooks. These are the hooks which are used to link the trucks and trolleys together. The teams observed multiple machines closely to understand the procedure. The procedure starts with a metal rod which is almost cylindrical which then in a furnace heated and then on the bending machine pressed hard and converted into the shape of a hook. Which is then left for drying. The bending machine was operated by the leg of the operator while his hands were used to control the hitting configuration of the iron piece. The iron residue left is sent to waste pickers which make iron tablets using the iron filings.

Perspective by engineering students: The person is standing and the machine demands a posture for strain. Also the machine has irregular frequency for hitting the iron which can be optimized and controlled up to much precision. The owner reported that the spring used in the machine breaks quite often which costs him really.

Perspective by school students:

Children got really excited with the machine which was used to beat the iron piece. The children kept looking at the machine which they found very fascinating. When the craft man was heating the iron piece, they asked us there also and after in discussions that the team should do something about the heat radiation also. They also asked the worker about the iron flakes which was being wasted but by being told that the flakes are used for making iron base Ayurveda medicines, their eyes got lighted up.

Visit to a metal bending workshop (under installation)

Field Description:

Third place, workshop for metal bending. At the workshop, a vacuum pump was being installed and there was no activities to observe.

Perspective by school students:

At the center, the children were looking very curiously at the tools which the workers were using for the installation. We didn’t spend much time, at the workshop as some major installation was being done. But the kids curious did ask the cost of the machine and noted. They did not ask about what the machine was about or what it did but they kept looking at it.

Visit to metal pellet making machine from sheet metal

Field Description: The team then visited a sheet metal workshop. At this workshop there were three operators and three machine for making small metal pellets used for packaging. These pellets are made from a metal drum from which big pieces of sheet metals are cut and which are then sent into compressor to make it uniform. But while cutting using the cutter which he had a risky process, the inner walls of the container also had glue, plaint etc which is manually removed and cleaned. Then this big part of the compressed sheet metal is then cut into strips which goes into the pelleting machine which sprouts out pellets onto a wall which are then manually picked and checked for quality and then packed in packets for selling.

Perspective by engineering students: Manual cleaning and cutting of large metal drums which is a bit risky and ineffective. The machine used for pelleting required the operator to sit in an unrelaxed position for quite some long time with one of his hands pouring the metal strip into the cutting machine and the other hand holding the metal strip near the blade for cutting, so the operator confessed that the hands do cause pain to him, which was also evident otherwise. Also, the same machine can be modified to catch/collect the pellets and then through slotting, the quality pellets gets separated automatically and a lot of human time and energy is reduced.

Perspective by the school students:

At the workshop, the children accompanied us and didn’t ask much questions. The children watched all the machines very closely but these three children during discussions gave us really great insights as on how the sitting posture and the improper hand position was affecting the labor who was working. One observation which they noticed, which we, the so called grown-ups and engineers didn’t think of was this process in the machine in which the machine pellets were flying away onto the wall and the kids pointed out that the pellets could get into someone’s eyes so it was dangerous.

Visit to Umiya Gram Udyog at Pedhapur

Field Description:

The team then went to a shop for spices and Namkeen. The owner had done MBA in marketing and their spice brand is in the market since 1988. The facility procures chilly from Bangalore which is then crushed into fine chilly powder and packaged into a sellable product. There was a storage facility also for storing the procured chillies which had rats. There was also a mixing machine to mix the spices, the entire place was very clean and well kept. The crushing was done through a pulvinizer which as a result of crushing spread the fine chilly powder particles in the air which the team couldn't bear but was normal for the workers. Also we met two workers who were rolling dough and putting dots in the rolled dough manually with a knife which the team found to be quite inefficient. Perspective by the engineering students:

Chilly powder in the eyes concerned the students as they experienced inhaling the chilly powder. The workers need not make 8-9 dots in 8-10 seconds but instead make the same number of dots with one punching machine bringing great efficiency.

Perspective by school students:

Children see all the things very carefully and try to understand what problems they face. Like in case of chilly grinding they observed that the powder of chilly may go into the eyes and may be inhaled by it may cause some serious lungs problem. It not only they observe some negative things or observe only problem. In filter machine they pointed out that it is the purely natural it does not involve any kind of chemical about them they usably studied in their regular course. One of the school student noted all the products available in the shop with price list in his notebook.

Visit to Khakhra Making Unit

Field Description:

The team then visited to Khakra making unit. The teams were not allowed to take pictures and videos of the place, the place was well managed with women and high tech machinery. A few points for optimization and improved ventilation was identified. All the processes were automated, starting from dough making, to dough pressing to hot pressing and driving to hot packaging.

Perspective by the school students:

The final visit of the first stage of field visit was made in a local area where manufacturing of food items called “khakhra” was taking place. The manufacturing unit was a hybrid with both man power as well as machine working in a systematic order and at a really fast rate. Majorly, the young visitors from SRISTI took a deep interest in knowing more about the working of different types of machinery, mechanical as well as electrical that were involved in manufacturing of the food items.

Apart from the machines, some of them asked some very interesting questions to the women workers that were involved in carrying out some part of the work in the industry and getting a deeper insight about the problems that they faced as well as ways in which optimization of the industry can be carried out. Though, the manufacturing unit was already very well optimized, amazingly, several other areas of optimization were also observed by the children such as the need for a well-ventilated room for the workers as well as the inability of the devices used to provide a cool environment for the workers to comfortably work on.

The young visitors from SRISTI also identified several minor areas in the area where many other things could be easily automated as well.

Visit to the village Manekpur

Perspective by the school & engineering students:

In the evening the team visited Manekpur village, where they first met the Sarpanch to know about the issues and provisions in the village. The Sarpanch seemed confident about the improvement he had carried out in the village. The team was divided into subgroups and went to observe the village and learn about the problems of the villagers. The children initiated conversations with the villagers and asked them about their problems. The children observed that some roads were missing and were not maintained well. They had piles of burnt garbage at different corners. It was also observed by a very keen child that the solar panels for the electric poles were dirty and that would reduce the efficiency of the solar panels.

While walking around the village, the team observed that the houses had used cacti for fencing. That gave the teams an insight that installation of the fencing could be a problem. The children directly asked the villagers what their problems were and the villagers were touched by their innocence. However, most people said that the village was improving and that the sarpanch had done a good job. Further inside the village, when the children were asking a woman about her problems she looked at us with hope and said that her husband consumes alcohol and can something be done about it.

The children further asked an old lady about the village and she confidently said that there are roads missing and the village remains dirty. The woman said that she lived alone as she was a widow. This was in contrast with what most others said in the village but similar to what the children themselves observed. One child even suggested that there could be a board asking people not to throw garbage on the roads.

Food for thought

Some of the engineering students noticed that breaking the ice with some school students gave most of the unique observations as compared to the other school students. Did talking to a school student motivated them or get them to open up or were they already smart and intelligent with a great eye or detail. Most of the problems which the school students gave and the engineering student gave different kind problems if we were to classify them, we can say that children problem identification was more analogous and from experience knowledge whereas the problems from the engineering students were more intellectual and analytical in nature.

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