Amazon's Future Engineer helps children in need explore the world of robotics

Amazon’s Future Engineer helps children in need explore the world of robotics

This article is sponsored by Amazon India.

“Through the journey of building robots, I have realized that the first part is the hardest. But once you take that first step and move on to the next, you will realize how far you have come,” says 16-year-old Nikat Ahmed Khan.

During the lockdown in 2021, Nikhat, who was studying in a municipal school in Mumbai, was apprehensive about the future as she was afraid of her. Learning will stop.

But life has other plans.

A year later, in October 2022, she and four other children – Rohit, Paras, Sumit and Pritam – represented India in Geneva, Switzerland, in the FIRST Global Challenge international robotics competition.

Over the months of July 2021 to October 2022, Nikhat, along with 250 children, enrolled in a course provided by The Innovation Story – a social educational enterprise through which children learn computer science.

Nikhat, Rohit, Paras, Sumeet and Pritam working on the robot. Image credits: Stills from Amazon’s ‘Tools for Tomorrow’ video

The course starts from the basics of coding and leads to advanced courses such as robotics for interested students. Nikhat team started the course with Fundamentals of digital literacybut went on to successfully build their robot in a short period of eight months under the direction of Minal Majumder, founder of The Innovation Story.

Majumder says the basic principles of the social enterprise have always been to empower young students and turn them into innovators through experiential learning. This is evident in their hub in Mumbai, which is always full of activity.

Students can be seen working on computer programming, being trained on robotics, and building prototypes and models in order to “give them tools to solve real-world problems.”

But, Majumder adds, achieving this feat would not be possible without a catalyst.

As children in The Innovation Story struggle to learn and understand as much as you canAmazon has been fueling this attempt with its Amazon Future Engineer Program.

Meenal Majumder from The Innovation Story works with children on their quest to build a robot
Meenal Majumder from The Innovation Story works with children on their quest to build a robot. Image credits: Stills from Amazon’s “Tools for Tomorrow” video

Let’s build a robot

Simply put, the Amazon Future Engineer Program supports children from disadvantaged communities and increases their access to computer science education. They provide them with tools such as laptops, robotics kits, and access to coding basics, which enable them to become technology innovators and build a better future for themselves.

“Through the Amazon Future Engineer Program, these children are getting the knowledge they need. All they need is reaffirmation that they can do it,” Majumder confirms, adding that through Amazon’s support, children begin to develop their own voice and ambition.

She goes on to note that in the months that followed, she witnessed a transformation In a group of five children.

“With the news of going to Switzerland for the competition, they started honing their English skills,” she jokingly adds. “There was a renewed confidence in them.”

The robot was conceptualized, built and designed by children and later presented in Geneva, Switzerland
The robot is conceptualized, built and designed by kids.

Provide children a grounding in technology

“No longer were they unsure of their career paths, they were sure of their desire to be engineers and give back to society through innovations. I’ve seen them go from a bunch of shy kids hiding behind each other to kids now bursting with new ideas. Enough is enough. We say they are the masters of their own destinies.

While Nikhat, Rohit, Paras, Sumit and Pritam are now pursuing college in class 11 and 12, Amazon believes they are the first of many children to Futures contracts are scheduled to change through the Future Engineer Program.

The children underwent brainstorming sessions where they imagined and designed the robot
The children underwent brainstorming sessions as they envisioned and designed the robot. Image credits: Stills from Amazon’s “Tools for Tomorrow” video

Anita Kumar, Amazon Community Head, CSR – India & Asia Pacific says, “As a company of innovators, thinkers, and builders, we know how technology can change the world and believe in the power of computer science to unlock creativity and unleash human potential. We also know that talent and passion run rampant among All young people, but opportunity isn’t. That’s why we created Amazon Future Engineer, a computer science education program designed to provide all young people—especially those who have been systematically denied opportunity and access—the opportunity to explore their potential.”

To date, 4.5 students – mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds – from over 3,000 public schools across 11 states have been supported by the e-commerce giant in their country. Seek to help children Explore and learn computer science through digital learning and personalized learning interventions.

For Nikhat, this was a dream come true. “I never expected to be able to travel outside India. So when the opportunity arose, I knew I had to make it count.”

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