robotex NGO is bringing robotics education to India schools
robotex NGO is bringing robotics education to India schools | How Robotex NGO is bringing robotics education to India’s government schools
Robotex India is a non-profit advancing STEAM, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and IoT skills to government school students in urban, tribal, and rural areas.
“The main premise of Robotex is to provide a platform for K-12, college students and early stage startups to showcase their technology innovations via a championships model which is Robotex International,” says Payal Manan Rajpal, Director of Robotex India and South Asia, during a conversation with robotics India live.
Robotex International is a 20-year-old annual event organized by the Estonia-based organization Robotex. Touted as the largest robotics festival in the world, it was first brought to India in 2018 by Payal with nearly 8000 students in participating.
Robotics for Rural
“During the first national championship in India, I noticed that it was only students from private schools and rich kids that participated in it,” recalls Payal.
But one little kid who was an anomaly walked up to Payal to ask for permission to present in his vernacular language instead. “He had made an amazing agricultural bot which did not look as great as the other robots because it was a hand-me-down given to his mom who works as a domestic help.”
Moved by the boy’s determination to learn robotics despite all odds, Payal decided to launch robotics for rural as a workshop model. “We have about 40 families around the world, but it’s all to do with championships. India is the first one that has workshops. And so, we launched two operating programs in 2019: ‘Robotics for Rural’ and ‘Girls Who Build Robots’.
These are the first of future skills education pan-India wherein thousands of underprivileged students have created remarkable robotics capstone projects. While these children struggle with electricity, WiFi, and lack of devices, what they do have is aspirations, career dreams, and conviction to achieve them.
Propagating AI education
What started as a small initiative soon became a community of 20000 students who were being trained with the help of CSR funding from forums like FICCI FLO.
The workshop series and championships provide a STEAM-minded education approach to rural students. By reaching out to marginalized, isolated, underserved, and underdeveloped communities in government schools and children’s observation homes, Robotex connects talented youth to researchers, scientists, and practitioners in the field to explore future learning opportunities.
As for the elements of AI that are taught to the students, Payal says, “Face recognition and object detection is the very small quotient of AI that has been used currently in our problems.”
Robotex India has coached students from Government schools, Teach for India, A.PJ.Abdul Kalam Centre, Rural India, and Tribal ashram schools by conducting workshops in five states.
Braving all odds
Even during the pandemic-induced lockdowns, Robotex India kept the co-curricular future skills education running smoothly by going fully digital with online workshops for over 11000 students.
The Robotex India team has about 50 employees and about 100 volunteers who come from engineering backgrounds to teach the children.
Robotex India advisory is supported by the Ministry of IT & Electronics Govt. of India, NSDC, MSH, UNEP, Digital India, FICCI FLO, European Union, and National and International government bodies.
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