Much has been said about the state of education in Pakistan, especially for students in school. Not only are they forced to go through the same age-old material that is begging to be revised, but they are also kept away from modern methods of teaching.
The focus, as it has always been in the Pakistani education system, is still on theory while the practical approach is kept to the bare minimum. A relatively new startup, EdVon, has embarked on a journey to use robots to teach different concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based education; programming, mechanical design, Internet of Things (IoT) electronics, etc.
Meet Muhammad Nabeel, Co-Founder and CEO at EdVon
EdVon is the brainchild of Muhammad Nabeel, a Robotics fanatic. He’s also a robotics engineer by profession. He holds a Bachelors in Electronics Engineering from NED University and a Masters from Korea University of Technology and Education, Korea.
“When Nabeel came back to Pakistan after his Masters, he started to teach simple concepts of robotics and programming to his cousin, Muhammad Ashar, who is studying in school,” said Huzaifa Sheikh, Nabeel’s younger brother. Huzaifa has done his BS in Computer Science from IBA and is a co-founder and a software developer at EdVon.
Soon after, Nabeel realized that his cousin was able to quickly grasp the subject and develop his own projects. He conducted same experiment with a few other people and came to the same conclusion; school students are more than ready to indulge in robotics and programming. That is when he came up with the idea of his very own robotics academy and, after discussing with Huzaifa, launched EdVon. The duo has been joined by Faiza, their younger sister and the marketing head at EdVon; and Obaid Naqi, an Electronics Engineer and the current CTO.
“Normally when students are admitted to a university, they do not have any technical skills, nor a mindset of learning by doing,” he said. “All they have been taught is how to memorize and get good grades, which really kills their creativity.”
From left to right, Obaid, Faiza, Nabeel and Huzaifa
However, Nabeel and his team are not the first group of energetic entrepreneurs to go along this path. Frustrated by this obvious waste of talent, a number of entrepreneurs have taken it upon themselves to instill the necessary knowledge in our youth — from the people at RoboMinors, a startup that teaches problem-solving & critical thinking skills using robotics-based STEM solutions, to Stemmers, an academy that wants to create tech-savvy students by teaching them about complex concepts like Robotics, programming.
EdVon is a combination of the words “Education” and “Revolution” and that’s exactly what the startup is all about. Changing the system of education to make it interesting and easy to grasp.
The startup develops educational robots for specific age groups. So far, they have developed 8 models of robots, including, line following robot, maze following robot, soccer playing robot, drone, pick and place robot, android control robot, obstacle detection robot, and ball potting robot.
Developed with specific age groups in mind, the main objective of these robots is to teach different concepts of STEM based education. All of these are locally designed and manufactured in Pakistan. Anyone can order a version of their robot by going to their website. For other models, you can get in touch with them via their website or on Facebook.
“Parents should buy the educational robots because it is as cheap as toys and helps their kids to learn different STEM based robotics concepts,” shares Huzaifa.
EdVon also designs and teaches courses that can help students easily digest the information and equip them with the skills that enable them to grow in the right direction. They have course curriculum for schools as well, like for 5th, 6th,7th and 8th standards. Along the way, their students will be able to learn the basic concepts of programming, mechanical design, IoT (Internet of things) and electronics.
They run regular courses for school kids on weekends consisting of three levels: Beginner, Medium and Advanced. Their 12-month course for homeschooled kids (ages 9 to 16) costs 3,000 rupees per month. You can register for it by going to the following link.
“In our class, all the students have their own laptops and each class comprises of a hands-on experience,” added Huzaifa when asked about their teaching environment. “We try to balance theory and practice so that students can easily grab the concept and understand the practical implementation of them as well.”
- Education for All
They work with different organizations to conduct their CSR by developing Robotics Lab in under privileged schools run by NGOs. They have worked with schools like Merit n Merit, Al Hadi, DA Public School, Pak-Turk, City School PAF Chapter, Generation’s School, Aghaz School, Beacon Light Academy, among others.
“We even got the funding from IEEE RAS to establish robotics lab in an under privileged school, followed by a funding of establishing robotics lab in more than 100 schools depending on the research and outcomes of the school,” added Huzaifa.
- Robotics Competitions
EdVon has organized a number of events in different universities to encourage more students to learn technical skills. The ‘All Karachi School Level Robotics Competition’ at NED University attracted over 350 students from all over Karachi, while a similar school-level robotics competition at Habib University brought in over a couple hundred students.
They have also organized a “Young Women Empowerment Robotics Camp (YWERC’17)” with the aim of promoting STEM-based education among girls at Usman Institute of Technology (UIT).
From 8th-grade students developing their own games to 10-year-olds tinkering with complex robot components, the feedback they have gotten from the students and their parents has been pretty amazing.
Currently, EdVon is taking part in She Loves Tech Pakistan, a global startup competition that encourages technology by women for women, and is one of the Top 11 finalists. Introduced in Pakistan by CIRCLE, She Loves Tech is taking place in 8 countries including Canada, Germany, Singapore among others. If these startups win the Pakistan round, they will go to China to compete at the globals!
To follow their journey and support the winner from Pakistan, all are invited to attend She Loves Tech Pakistan to be held on August 19 from 3 to 6 pm at IBA City Campus. You can register for the event over here.