NAGABOTS: Towards making Nagaland a robotics destination
Kohima, Aug. 20 (EMN): Technological advancement has revolutionised the world and learning too has taken a different dimension. In a first of its kind in the state, an engineer has established NAGABOTS with a dream to make Nagaland a Robotics destination.
The person behind this Kohima-based robotic company and institution is Kikrukhrielie Khezhie, who has a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering and had quit government job in 2018 to pursue his aspiration to make learning interesting and practical-based.
Khezhie, Director of NAGABOTS, shared about his dream project to Eastern Mirror in his office situated at Mabel Tanquest Memorial Building, Kenouzou in Kohima.
The idea of starting a robotic company popped up last year as he has personal interest in robotics since college days but it took shape only in May though online learning had taken off earlier this year. The second wave of coronavirus didn’t stop this entrepreneur, who also owns a steel fabrication unit and a gift shop in the state capital, from chasing his dream.
He observed that many people had come up with innovative ideas after lockdown was imposed last year but he felt something was missing. He found that many acquired skills from YouTube and the internet and not through formal education. It triggered him start a robotic company and give proper education and impart basic concept to the people of the state.
The director said that Pune-based IndiaFIRST® Robotics, which has tied up with US-based PTC, inspired him to start a company in Nagaland in order to enable students started class 1 learn coding and to ensure that Robotics as the course is well developed and well-structured.
He viewed that the learning system is ‘very approachable’ for a state like Nagaland ‘where robotics have not even started’ and that the society as whole is still yet to inculcate the spirit of learning robotics.
“We have to create market in fact, because even though people are interested, they don’t know where to start,” he said.
Khezhie said that many parents were worried about their children’s education being affected by repeated lockdowns, which was why some of them stated having interest in letting their children take up robotics course in virtual mode.
He said that offline learning has started following easing of lockdown restrictions though some are still continuing online classes. About 15 students have taken up the course, he added.
He shared that some undergraduate students and graduates also pursue the course at NAGABOTS besides young children.
Interest and apprehension
Speaking about the courses offered by the company, the director said that some have been designed to complete within 15 hours or 30 hours for online. He added that some students had completed their first course and were advancing to other course- coding and robotics.
Being a new education and training system, he said that many schools were interested and at same time apprehensive as they don’t know how ‘receptive the parents will be’.
It was informed that the company had been allowed to tie up with all the schools in the state and introduce Robotics education following a meeting with Principal Director of School Education, Shanavas C.
Three schools were said to have shown interest in the course, for which a laboratory and Robotics Club would be set up at the institutions.
“Depending on their interest, we will take it up in a more professional way,” he said.
Interestingly, the government’s New Education Policy (NEP) stresses on coding and robotics.
“Coding has become an integral part of our life, even robotics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, so we feel that at least among the youth, the basic concepts should be ready for all so that we know what is behind,” he said.
Khezhie informed that Robotics is an integration of mechanical engineering, electronics and coding, and these are integrated to make a robot. To make it comprehensible for young learners, scratch programming is used, though an advanced course Python programming is being introduced for older learners.
‘The teaching approach is practical-based and focuses more on projects like developing games, story board or animations,’ he said, adding that some students have learnt to develop their own apps.
Multiplications and divisions
Khezhie, who also served as the President of Kohima Village Students’ Union from 2019-2021, said that his sting with the union also inspired him to venture into Robotics education.
He said that he encountered even classes 9 and 10 students finding difficult to solve simple Mathematics like multiplications and divisions while giving free tuitions. He then figured out the problems faced by the students.
STEM subjects — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – are supposed to be the most interesting subjects and it will happen when learning becomes practical, he said.
“It’s easy to comment but how are we contributing our parts to make all these interesting for our students?” he asked while pointing out how the society keep blaming the education system.
Robotics is the right platform to encourage STEM education, he said, citing how IndiaFIRST® Robotics imbibes interest in students in terms of solving projects, research-oriented modes of teaching, and encouraging critical thinking.
He expressed hope that he would be able to help students find learning more interesting and fun.
The director of NAGABOTS shared that he dreams to make Nagaland a Robotics destination- soft power and enhanced manufacturing capacity. He said that it is possible to transform Nagaland though some might think his dreams were far-fetched because of difficult terrain and topography.
He asserted that a society can never go back to the past but can adapt to the new system and integrate technology with traditions to move ahead and become world leaders.
Nagas have the trait, zeal and sense of innovation, he said, adding that soft skills would help them excel and develop new things.
Khezhie also maintained that his company would create platforms for students from the state to participate in the India Robotics Competition, wherein the winners get the chance to compete at the Invention Convention Worldwide (ICW).
He added that NAGABOTS would mentor students to become inventors and innovators.
Courses offered at NAGABOTS
Courses in Robotics, coding and design ranges from basic to intermediate ranges: RoboChamp; Advance RoboChamp; Champion; Champion (Arduino Starter); Challenger (Arduino Pro); Scratch Programming; App Inventor; Python (Basic); HTML (U/IX) Developer); Python (Core): CAD (Basic); CAD (Intermediate) then to Advance course like- Drone Making; Raspberry PI; AI/ML (Starter Course); Embedded System; Internet of Things (IoT) and Additive Manufacturing, it was informed.
Students can enrol in these courses by logging on its official website or through its social media handles.