Igniting Young Minds!
I had the privilege to be on the Jury for NXP’s Young Innovator Challenge. It was a wonderful evening with the NXP family as we browsed thru the projects of the young innovators as they presented their smart solutions for our not-so-smart world.
The participants were school level children – with the youngest, surprise entrant being from the 4th class – and their understanding of the issues at hand and the project implementations were really full of deep insight.
Another aspect that I liked was their communication skills. We measured them not just on their understanding of the problem and its solution – but also on their communication. Several youngsters tied up on this measure with good eye-contact, articulate hand movement and clear diction.
The winner had not just created the circuit on a PCB (not a bread-board assembly) – he had completed the coding, written a phone App and demonstrated an integrated application!
I and my fellow jurists were all delighted and humbled by the excitement of the young innovators.
The participants were all from the NXP employee family community – and I think it was a wonderful perk to offer to the employees. An opportunity to ignite the tech spirit in the young ones by sheer peer action and catalytic support from the tech leaders at NXP India. The young ones were given the kits and a budget of Rs.5000/- , about a 100 youngsters competed across the country! And it was obvious that the parents were also excited about their young ones project.
At the valedictory, we shared our insights into their projects and I built on how the smart irrigation, smart planters were getting executed in real life addressing yield issues in traditional industries like Tobacco and Wines (grapes). By use of sensors and finetuning the environmental conditions, the high grade output in the tobacco industry was altered dramatically by a startup. And the concepts could be extended to several other cash crops (like Grapes for Vineries).
On a different note – it is a fact that many young ones are opting for careers and academic streams that are not STEM related. This is a problem that is visible across the globe – and there is a need to ignite the passion for technology now more than ever in the next generation.
Programs like this can enable and excite the next generation with the pleasant satisfaction of tinkering, of creating a project on their own and to see its impact in the real world.
Hats off to Sanjay Gupta ji and the organizing team @ NXP in pulling off this successful event – a best practice that I am recommending even to my company.