BENGALURU: Imtiaz Ahmed Khan beamed with a child-like enthusiasm as he interacted with children at a competition using robotics he organised on Saturday in the city.
When speaking to him, it is evident he is solicitous of children, but what he scorns is the upbringing environment prevalent in the country.
“While travelling across Europe, USA and Japan, I found that the students were technically brilliant. But in India, students are theoretically qualified,” the managing director of Novatech Robo says, hinting at the loopholes of our country’s educational system.
Now 60, he is passionate ab ou t getting students from Class 2 to college to visit the futuristic world of robots. And he is sure, once there, they will not want to come back.
“The future is right here with us, but we are living in the past,” he says.
With no qualification and technical know-how, he relied on his passion for electronics and later on robotics as well as his exposure to the western developments to learn the basics. He later graduated to train students.
“I started Novatech Robo in 2013 to give robotic education, research, training, development, manufacturing and promotion a boost in India,” he says.
According to him, initially, he thought of restricting the initiative to engineering students. “I started a programme after interviewing about 5,000 engineering students who were rank holders, but found that their practical knowledge was nil. I then broadened the age group and decided to start with children as young as Class 2 students,” he says.
Today, he has 35 experts under Novatech Robo, which has trained about 5,000 students since inception.
“Currently, we have 500 students. I have seen that robotics helps immensely in brain development. We had a special child who was hyperactive, but with training in robotics, his concentration levels improved dramatically,” he says, and adds that the module is tailor-made to match the course curriculum of individual schools and colleges.
“Using robotics, we can conduct many science experiments and also teach mathematics — algebra and geometry — and computer science to students from class 2 onwards. Robotic education brings creativity, innovativeness and analytical ability, in addition to developing technical and engineering skills, concentration, designing and planning, problem solving and independent thinking,” he asserts.
Speaking of the idea behind the festival, which follows a competition format, Khan observes that the enthusiasm level of children doubles in contests.
“The format is quite common in the Western world. And the enthusiasm is greater because even parents join the children,” he says. Every student is given a certificate and a medal, and the top winners get a chance to participate in the World Robofest Championship in May. The contest organised in the USA by Lawrence Technology University, Michigan, with whom he has an ongoing partnership.
But amid the positivity, he feels a sense of regret. Khan wanted to involve students from government schools to be part of the event, but to his surprise the response was disappointing.
“Private schools have come forward with great enthusiasm, but unfortunately the response from government schools was not encouraging. We have only three schools from the government sector, but there is hope. In Telangana, where we recently conducted the competition, we had about 170 government schools participating,” he says.