SRM- Next Tech Lab : Redefining Cross-disciplinary Research in India

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Imagine a place where people work on building futuristic prototypes using bleeding edge technology and quickly moving on to cooler tech, avoiding time-sinks to focus on innovative ideas. In the last few weeks, members of the Next Tech Lab have worked on projects spanning Deep Learning (Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence), Human-Computer Interaction, Computational Biology, Electrical Systems, Crypto-currency and Internet of Things.

While working at the MIT Media lab, two students from SRM University were intrigued by the unique anti-disciplinary research culture that peeks years into the future. While the Next Tech Lab doesn’t just ape the Media Lab framework like in Richard Feynman’s anecdotes about “Cargo-Cult Science”, its policies are built to foster innovation. The lab follows no-hierarchical structure and has a 1:1 gender ratio. Diversity is appreciated at the lab and people working at Next Tech Lab are from all corners of the country. They also believe in diversity in academics and thus have students from 8 different fields of engineering.

With advisors from MIT, University of Pittsburgh, IBM to name a few, the lab often has video conferences on the latest technology. The lab, located in UB-706 at SRM University is fully automated with their own lock (FREA-K) along with biometric sensors. They are also in the process of assembling a state-of-the-art rig to train their deep neural nets and render complex graphics for their AR/VR projects. The lab members have also demonstrated their projects to world renowned professors.

The lab is directly managed by the Director of Engineering & Technologyat SRM University and is completely student run. The members of the lab work 24×7 and 365 days of the year. They are currently working on 32 different projects. After every project they complete, they keep asking themselves “What’s next?” since even they don’t know what will be the ‘next technology’ they will be working and developing projects on…

The Members of the Lab have conquered hackathons and stood first among professionals — the ITC InfoTech AR/VR Hackathon in July 2016 and the IESA Makeathon in February 2017.

Apart from the above mentioned wins, the members have published their research in international journals and have been invited to various conferences, India and Abroad — Some of which were the DeLange conference at Rice University, TensorFlow Dev Summit 2017 at Google’s HQ GooglePlex, and vamrrAhmedabad.

The lab has recently launched an online fundraising campaign on Ketto which has been one of the Top Trending campaigns in India.