An Arduino-based training was launched by Engibex company as a CSR project in Nepal to assist primary-school students in understanding the basics of mechatronics. Students learned to use the Arduino hardware and software to turn their ideas into reality. The completion of the project also encouraged other neighboring schools to perform such activity. The 5-day training was for the students of group age 9-15 years and was a great success. It has encouraged us to join hands with other organizations to plan and implement such educational projects shortly.
Engibex is a Belgian engineering consulting firm that assists SMEs and large industrial organizations bring their innovation and R&D initiatives to life. We are involved in professional jobs and committed to fostering education and innovation. Therefore, Engibex has initiated a Corporate social responsibility (CSR) project in Nepal. The main focus is to teach young minds to delve into the world of simple engineering projects using Arduino, a versatile and accessible platform for budding innovators. Engibex has always empowered me to develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
1.1 The Need for Tech Education in Nepal
Availability and quality of education highly depend upon the Per capita income of a place. A project was conducted in Baramjhiya (home village) in a rural area of province-2 Nepal. The per capita income of this province is 1072 USD, which is very low, and so is the literacy rate, i.e. 63.5 %.
From my experience, the basic education and methodology used 20 years ago has not been upgraded. Students follow the old traditional method and do not have access to modern technology or any training to understand it practically. Being a mechanical engineer and a member of the same village, I had difficulty in childhood collecting the resources and materials to do smaller projects, which was a building block of the career that I have built. Not everyone is fortunate enough to study in cities. Therefore, to assist students practically to some extent with mechatronics, we launched a project, which is detailed in the section below.
1.2 Introducing Arduino: A Gateway to Innovation
Arduino is an open-source electronics platform used to make small to professional projects with the help of hardware and software. Students extensively use it for their projects to put their ideas to reality. Hundreds of Arduino hardware and related software can be used for various projects like agriculture, automotive, production lines, mechatronics, etc. As technology gets more sophisticated, Arduino provides a comparatively cheaper, effective platform to understand and improve the technology. Furthermore, it is open-source with good documentation, and step-by-step procedures can be found on YouTube.
1.3 Our CSR Initiative in Nepal
Engibex, one of the biggest consulting companies, is committed to providing social support. After a detailed discussion and planning, we decided to execute the project in Nepal. It was a 5-day program, and our objectives are listed below:
1. Provide fundamental info about mechatronics and Arduino
2. Familiarize about Arduino-programming
3. Inform about the sensors and actuators
4. Practically visualize the above points in a project
Our main goal is to make primary school students familiar with mechatronics so they can turn an idea into reality.
1.4 Simple Arduino Projects for Schoolers
To achieve our goal within a short interval, a simple project was designed to turn off the light during the day and turn it on at night. A photo-resistor- sensor, light bulb, and Arduino Uno board were used for this project. Af- ter achieving the 1,2 and 3 objectives, which took most of the project time, it was easier for them to understand the system’s workings. Also, various YouTube links and documentation from the Arduino website were provided for help and self-learning. In the end, everyone was able to build their project. Online support will be provided shortly for further assistance in projects.
1.5 The Workshop Experience
Participation in this kind of project was not new for me, but it was amazing to see curious minds work together to understand what they had never used. First, the learning material was collected and gathered based on their curriculum. It made it easier to find a starting level of training. Training space was arranged in the school’s computer lab, which was enough for 15-20 students. Students were divided into groups, and individual groups were given targets to meet. The simple, quiet, and calmness of the village life also added a sense of relaxation during the training. The first few days were a struggle for the students because most topics were new. I learned a few tricks to make them understand easily. Learning methods differ from place to place, and sometimes language becomes a barrier to understanding. During the last few days, they could understand the workings of hardware and software together. I could see the brightness and new ideas emerging in their eyes. Furthermore, Engibex provided the school a laptop and Arduino kits to help students with projects. I felt a moment of pride that I was assisting young minds of my village to a bright future.
1.6 Impact and Success Stories
Most of the students had curious, bright ideas. We would discuss for a long time, even after the classes. Most of the ideas were solving village problems. Parents were also curious and proud of their children’s achievements. Along with the school authority, I arranged a suitable place and time for the interested students to do their projects safely. Now, the school has an Arduino lab.
2. Looking Ahead
This project interested neighboring schools, and they approached me personally for similar projects at their school. We also want this project to be mobilized in other places and are working on the planning. Similarly, various Nepalese organizations like NRN (Non-Resident Nepali) are willing to support similar projects. We are looking into the future to join hands together with Belgium organizations for educational-related projects.
In conclusion, Engibex is proud to contribute to the educational development of Nepal through our Arduino-based engineering initiative. We believe we are sowing the seeds for a brighter and more technologically advanced future in Nepal by empowering schoolers with practical skills and fostering a love for innovation.