Rudimentary and rote learning has done enough damage to this nation. It is time for the young students of India to truly explore and discover answers to pertinent problems that had so far eluded them.
Thankfully, parents, as well as schools, are realizing the importance of letting the students find answers to problems through experiential learning. And one technology startup in Goa is making significant strides in taking practical experiments in robotics and advanced programming to the next level.
Meet ASIER, which means ‘the beginning’ in Spanish, a Goan startup with an aim to revolutionise the way young students encounter the subject of science and technology.
ASIER Solutions (Opc) Private Limited is a small, entirely bootstrapped startup, which is making a big difference in the Goan education ecosystem. At the helm of the company is Sunaya Shirodkar, who holds a Masters in Engineering (Electronics & Instrumentation) from the Goa Engineering College.
“As an Assistant Professor of Electronic Engineering at a reputed college, I was astonished to see the lack of practical exposure and subject knowledge in undergraduate students. While most of these students scored well in theory, they certainly needed a lot of handholding in practical projects,” explains Sunaya, Founder of ASIER.
An astute Engineer, Sunaya was extremely worried about the state of affairs. A question that continuously gnawed at her was, ‘How can students with such limited exposure to practical application become good engineers and serve the nation to the best of their abilities?’
Soon, she found the solution – introducing students to the concept of science and technology through fun and engaging practical projects. And that’s how ASIER’s STEM Education Robotics Kits was conceptualized.
“I thought that if students from junior classes could be given robotics kits, they would not only be able to understand the basic concepts of electronics, communications and robotics, but can also build upon their existing knowledge of the world around them to find innovative solutions to the global issues at hand,” says Sunaya.
Since her core area of expertise is electronics and communication systems, it didn’t take Sunaya and her team to come up with a comprehensive robotics kit, which allowed students to build and assemble robotic installations having different features.
“ASIER offers complete robotic kits of increasing complexities to help students progress from a basic assembly of parts to integrating advanced programming for activating enhanced features in the robot. The kits are targeted towards the age group of 7 to 15 years,” adds Sunaya. With an ASIER kit, students can make robots with diverse features; for example, robots that follow light and those that move away from it, those that avoid obstacles and the ones that move around the edge of a surface.
Sunaya and her team of three members work diligently to take the ASIER kits to young students, mainly through school workshops, Tinkering Labs and other STEM Education initiatives.
“It’s incredible the way youngsters absorb information and capitalize their learning into innovative ideas and solutions. I am glad that ASIER is enabling problem-solving and innovative-thinking among the students,” Sunaya says with a bright grin.
With ASIER, Sunaya wants to be the voice for the hundreds and thousands of women in the country who are prodded to take up non-technical streams as students and are discouraged from taking up careers in scientific/technological fields.
“I am privileged to be able to make a name in the technical sphere, and wish that more women opt for careers in technical jobs,” says Sunaya, “I feel that women are more scientifically-inclined, organized and disciplined in their thinking and approach than is popular believed. We need many more females as practicing engineers, physicists, bio-scientists, etc., in this country.”
Incubated at FiiRE (Forum for Innovation Incubation Research and Entrepreneurship), the ASIER team has found invaluable support in every aspect of their business. From sculpting of the product offering to creating the business plan and devising the next-stage go-to-market strategy, mentors and staff of FiiRE have tremendously supported ASIER since its inception in 2018.
“I am really grateful to the mentors and staff at FiiRE, especially, Mr. Kishore Shah, Mr. Tarun Krishnakumar, Mr. D S Prashant and Mr. Tushar Sawant for helping out ASIER at every step, and giving us the confidence that our enterprise is marketable and scalable. We are right now working towards reaching out to a much larger audience, which is possible only with the help of our incubator.”
It is the small startups like ASIER that are making a big difference in empowering young students with the tools for creativity and innovation. FiiRE is committed to host, nurture and support innovation and entrepreneurship at the grassroots level. The mentorship board of FiiRE has immense experience in grooming technology startups with a social impact.