While many of us talk about the job decline in the IT sector, very few look out at the new opportunities that get generated every day; such as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Robotics and Machine Learning. With the growing number of youth there is certainly a need for revolution in the limited professions we see as an option today. Industry 4.0 demands new skills as well.
Anirban Ghatak, the founder of MieRobot is already working towards diminishing the gap between the academics and industry. He sees a lot of scope for jobs and opportunities in the space of machine learning and robotics. This is in mirror with the latest statement from AICTE as well making robotics and AI mandatory from next year engineering syllabus. Mierobot not only offers the way to acquire the new skill sets but also a chance of internship, so that the students from partner engineering colleges can actually work on the real-life projects from MieRobot.
Here is a brief from a candid chat with Anirban.
What gave you the idea to start MieRobot?
I was always fascinated by robots that I saw as a child in movies (Terminator has been one of my favourites). I grew up graduating in Engineering, I worked subsequently for 15 years in various IT firms in Singapore, India, Germany and finally the last 4 years in the UK. In my tenure in the UK I started making robots in my free time, often working late at nights. This probably was for the little child in me still. I named these robots based on Satyajit Ray’s cinema characters as other than robots my second passion is to watch Satyajit Ray’s cinema. You need something to keep you motivated when you are nowhere. For me Ray’s work did that. Read about Siddhartha and Keya.
What gave me a kick was that people showed interest in my robots over social media when I shared pictures and videos of my robots. My family and close friends encouraged me to write about these robots and encourage youths to make their own DIY robots and I launched MieRobot as a website.
Just in few months the site started getting some traffic and became a niche platform to motivate youth to pick up robotics and machine learning by providing learning maps and contents for free.
I finally decided to return back to India in April 2017 to convert MieRobot.com as a company and to take this initiate more seriously. I bootstrapped the company with my savings and marketed MieRobot by conducting free seminars at engineering colleges.
Would you like to talk about some challenges you faced during the initial days?
Some? I faced many! (Laughs)
The biggest was to convince people on this topic. Most thought it is still very ambitious in Indian academics. Some wanted to know where to make a start in robotics and machine learning.
To convince the colleges to let us conduct seminars on robotics and machine learning took a lot of effort and it still does. For them to believe that this could be the future and a stable one wasn’t easy at all. Then it was the second round of convincing where we asked students to write articles and share their thoughts via them. The idea of both writing blogs and DIY (Do It Yourself) isn’t yet picked up by our society (just a handful who are interested in this).
And the third that I’d like to talk about was a personal one I’d say. From a well-paying job to move down to bootstrapping a company and working from a home office – was very tough but worth the efforts.
Tell us a little more about how you work with colleges and about your future plans.
We work with engineering colleges on the eco system; from campus ambassador to research and development projects. So, we have a spectrum of services which include services that are free of cost as well as billable like providing training. We only deal with digital and industry 4.0 skills so we make our services very relevant in current Industrial disruption. We encourage EQ and IQ balance a lot. We motivate DIY culture and design thinking as well. We promote student branding and social media ninja culture. We work within the system by inducing best practices both for students and faculty member.
We soon will be looking at ‘maker spaces’ for making actual robot designs and prototypes with basic functionalities in the toy grade segment. India is not known as a market for hardware robotics and we wish to change that in the long run in our small way.
My vision is to get us ready for this vast market that has a huge potential. This will in turn create employability and grow our economy. This also supports Make in India initiative.
Watch Anirban’s robot that tracks a ball and is a spy camera which he developed using raspberry pi, python and arduino.