Odisha duo’s forest fire detection device gets NASA recognition | Bhubaneswar News timesofindia.indiatimes.com


Bhubaneswar: A device that can detect early signs of a forest fire, designed by two final-year students of the prestigious College of Engineering and Technology (CET), Bhubaneswar, has caught the attention of the US space agency NASA.
This innovative instrument, which reads temperature and humidity among other parameters for early detection of forest fires, figured among the 25 semifinalists in this year’s NASA iTech Cycle, an initiative of NASA Space Technology Directorate, and was the lone entry from Asia in the list.
“A wireless system that uses stand-alone boxes that harvest energy from microbial fuel cells to monitor forest fires quickly and efficiently,” this is how the NASA website describes the device designed by Pratyush Mallick, 22, from Rourkela and Pramit Kumar Bhuta, 21, from Paralakhemundi, both students of instrumentation and electronics engineering.
Through the iTech competition, NASA encourages innovators from across the world to present their ideas that “benefit space exploration and solve challenges on the Earth”.
The Uttarakhand forest fire of 2016 had inspired Pratyush and Pramit to take up this project in September 2018. The duo first presented their project, ‘Jewel Beetle’, at the Sankalp Hackathon-2019 at Kolkata in January 2019. “We named it ‘Jewel Beetle’ because this insect is prompt in detecting forest fires,” said Pratyush.
Ananya Dastidar, an assistant professor, who guided the duo in the project, said, “We decided on this subject after much brainstorming and examining its relevance.”
Pratyush and Pramit then went on to present their device at Anveshan-2019 organised by Analog Devices, a leading global high-performance analogue technology company, in Bangalore and won the Anveshan design fellowship programme-2019.
“The mentors assigned to us by Analog Devices suggested that we change the solar panels as a source of energy as these need to be cleaned frequently, which is not possible inside the forest and can also be damaged by animals,” said Pramit.
“Soon, they replaced the solar panels with a microbial fuel cell that can harvest energy from the Earth. The students have tested their device in a simulated environment and forest behind their institute. Now we want them to patent their device,” said Dastidar.
Pramit and Pratyush have spent Rs 11,000 from their own pockets to make this device. Later on a Rs 50,000 funding was provided by Analog Devices.
The device is dust and waterproof and can function for two to three years in the rough and tumble of a forest. It has a sensing range of 1 km and the sensing zone can be increased if more sensor nodes are added or more devices placed within the area. “We have even covered the device with camouflage material to prevent it from being damaged by animals,” said Pramit.
Authorities at CET are happy with the achievements of their students. “Both are very good students and we are very happy about their achievement. Their current device is a pilot model. We will fund them if the duo wants to make a real-time model and provide all technical help for it,” said principal of CET Prof. Prashanta Kumar Patra. He said the college will also help them academically by incorporating the device in their project work paper, getting a patent and getting a paper published.
The students want to carry out more real-time experiments with the device that has also found a mention on the Facebook page of Odisha Skill Development Authority. “We are proud of you, Pratyush. Let’s go make the country proud,” the post says.

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