TRY and Do It Yourself

P. Uday Shankar

P. Uday Shankar  

Two engineers are trying to kindle an interest in engineering among the underprivileged.

At the end of the course, when most engineering students are haggling to find placements in top companies, a few students like P. Uday Shankar and Pragadish. M.N, who are trying to chart a different course.

These two engineering graduates have started a company, DIYA (Do It Yourself Academy), which serves to teach practical engineering concepts to school and college students through workshops.

However, the root of this venture lies in a more humble and novel attempt. In May 2012, the duo started a small venture to teach basic electronics and robotics to underprivileged students. This led to them start a venture called TRY (The Reformer in You) by teaching students every Sunday from January 2013.

Uday Shankar says, “Robotics is blooming and beholds many possibilities in the future. But, learning to make robots is an expensive affair, and beyond the reach of the underprivileged. Hence, the motto of TRY is not only to orient these kids towards robotics, but also to awaken skills of innovation and creativity in them.”

TRY depends on engineering students to teach the kids who have enrolled. The student volunteers go through a workshop and then go on to teach in children’s homes and government schools. Pragadish says, “We started the first TRY club at my college, KCG College of Technology, with 10 volunteers. We now aim to establish student chapters at other colleges to spread this idea.”

Pragadish says, “When we went and spoke to these young kids, they were not very enthusiastic about engineering. That made us start this initiative to kindle their interest in engineering.”

He says that a group of students from a children’s home in Chennai participated and won a prize in a robotic competition. Uday adds, “A group of 9-10 underprivileged children beat our expectations by programming PIC18Fcontrollers to built an alarm and washing machine circuit. Their interest and involvement during TRY’s first workshop has instilled hope, confidence and inspiration in us.”

Both TRY and DIYA are supported by the STEMSEL Foundation, Australia. This association came about when Uday Shankar was in Australia for six months at the University of South Australia as part of an exchange programme. They help in providing the technical support to conduct workshops.

While DIYA labs wins the bread-and-butter for the duo, they also use it to tap volunteers for TRY.

DIYA labs which conducts workshops for a charge for engineering students on different practical engineering concepts, offers to waive their fees, provided students who attend their workshops are ready to volunteer at TRY. The students say that one of the biggest challenges they face is getting volunteers for TRY and they want to actively encourage student chapters in colleges.

Through DIYA labs they have conducted three workshops at PSG Tech, Coimbatore, KCG College of Technology and MIT, Chrompet. Going forward, they plan to do year-long workshops at colleges in specialised domain areas as their before expanding it to schools and they hope to keep aide at least 10 per cent of their profits from the workshops for TRY.

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