Major national and international technical societies have set up local student chapters at NITK. They include Indian Society for Technical Education (ISTE), the Institution of Engineers, the Computer Society of India, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Robotics Club NITK.
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has an active chapter constituted by Mechanical Engineering students. They conduct events like 'How stuff works', 'Under the hood', 'Can you fix it?' and also a Vintage Auto Expo. NITK has a racing team which participates in SAE BAJA. In 2011, its sister team NITK Racing FSAE participated in FSAE Michigan USA 2011, the toughest circuit on the FSAE calendar. It was the only team from India to participate in the event.
NITK has a Linux Users Group, which along with the WEB Enthusiasts Club promotes FOSS and Linux. The Robotics Club (along with IEEE) at NITK is a group of students that aims to create a robotics culture in the institute. They provide tools, equipment and expert guidance so that academic projects in the area of robotics can be successful.
The Engineers' Forum for Entrepreneurship Awareness (E-FOREA) encourages entrepreneurial ideas from students and promotes leadership and entrepreneurship on campus. E-Pitch is their flagship business idea competition which attracts participation from all over the country.
The amateur astronomy Star Gazing Club conducts star-watching shows for the students and faculty. It runs astronomy workshops for school students in the region. It has recently acquired a radio telescope setup from Radio Jove, and this affords the students some opportunities in learning astronomy beyond the visible spectrum.
The Robotics Club of NITK is a group of hobby robot enthusiasts. Members involve in presenting seminars on various levels of robotics to participating in renowned tech-fests like TECHFEST, IITB, SHAASTRA, IITM,etc.Recently, it has undertaken to build the Coconut Harvester Robot, in joint with CPCRI, Kasaragod to build an autonomous coconut tree harvester.
The Rotaract Club conducts social, cultural and technical events for the students and club members alike. These include blood donation camps, cloth donation drives, coastal clean-up camps, and events conducted by the National Service Scheme (NSS) chapter of NITK.
The Mangalore chapter of the Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Among Youth (SPICMACAY) is centred at NITK and is one of the biggest chapters in the country. It organises concerts and lectures by maestros of Indian classical art forms and strives to raise awareness of Indian culture in the surrounding regions through lectures, orientations and conventions. The chapter celebrated its Silver Jubilee by hosting the 27th Annual National Convention of SPICMACAY from 28 May to 3 June 2012.
Literary, Stage and Debating Society (LSD) is the apex literary forum of the institute. The club mainly conducts quizzes while also holding debates and organising plays. LSD was formed in 2004 from the quiz club to cater to literary events other than quizzes. LSD is one of the best quiz clubs in India, having produced quizzers who have won competitions nationwide. Members of the club also contribute to the NITK Quiz blog, which has been active since 2008.
Dance Dramatics and Fashion Club (DDFC) organises 'Spandan' annually, which provides students a platform to showcase their talent at dance and theatre. The NITK Music Club organises music shows generally called Musical Night and play popular music at the outdoor auditoriums. A variety of styles are on display at these events, from Indian classical music to fusion to rock. The NITK Films Club screens movies at the Student's Activity Centre every Friday during the semester. Apart from English and Hindi releases, regional films are shown as well. The Press Club brings out a fortnightly wall magazine News Wagon, providing a tongue-in-cheek look at life around the campus, besides bringing out the official yearbook, The Vitruvian. VOICE (Vedic Oasis for Inspiration, Culture and Education) is a youth group run by the students, for the students. Using the principles present in the ancient Vedic scriptures, they train students in a blend of character and competence. The NITK Photography Club captures photos and videos of events happening at NITK. It conducts "Expose", which is a national level photography contest organised yearly during Incident. The club contributes to the official yearbook, The Vitruvian. The Vitruvian has got a rebirth in the year 2013-14 and came out with the new version The Shoreline with vital and profound changes.