What is your job?
I’m currently the Co-founder and CTO of LearnOBots, an Education Technology company that is promoting Hands on experiential learning in STEAM domains. I design new curriculums, educational kits and programs that are deployed in different cities across Pakistan. Some of our new products are making their way all over the world. Sometimes I share my experiences as a speaker as well. I also hold the position of Assistant Professor of Computer Science at National University of Sciences and Technology, Pakistan.
How did you get started making?
Since my early childhood I’ve been opening and breaking things. During college I managed to turn an Ericsson Amps cellular phone into a radio scanner. I’ve built many open source education kits as well that are being used at LearnOBots. I got into the making spirit due to my father who has always been an avid maker. Being the only son, I was his assistant in all the fixes that he did on his own. From fixing the car to installing a security camera/intercom, to fixing the electricity, plumbing or gardening issues, he did it all. And I was always by his side, acting the every ready to learn assistant.
What type of maker would you classify yourself as?
I like to explore and help others explore as well. I don’t stick to one idea, and want to play with many things. One of my projects was to upgrade the firmware of a Garmin GPS from Russian to English language, which required going back to the good old RS232 serial protocol. This GPS was being used by my friend who flies for the military and since he was flying a Russian MI 17, the GPS was in Russian language and needed to be converted to English.
I also love teaching what I learn, hence the company that I formed 5 years ago to promote the maker movement in Pakistan. Before developing CodiBot I used an open source design from thingiverse to create a cheap 3D printed mobile robot for STEM education. Another project is a Solar house kit that teaches kids about alternative energy sources and electrical cicruits. Most of my current projects are focused on promoting STEM education.
What’s your favorite thing that you’ve made?
My favourite project so far is the open source sub $100 robotics kit called CodiBot that I designed at LearnOBots which has now been used in thousands of workshops across Pakistan. It is based on the Arduino Uno board and is based on an Octagonal laser cut acrylic design. A lot of thought was put into the shape of the robot, enabling it to carry a number of different sensors and actuators for the extensive curriculum that I’ve designed around it.
What’s something you’d like to make next?
My next project is to develop a Robotics kit that enables everyone to learn the exciting world of Artificial Intelligence. Just recently Tensor Flow Lite has been ported to the Arduino environment, I’d love to use that to create a cheap kit that makes learning about technologies like Deep Learning and Neural Network more accessible.
Any advice for people reading this?
Technology has become very cheap and accessible. Therefore anyone can become a maker. I would encourage everyone to learn new skills and start solving problems around them. If there are any parents reading this I would urge them to encourage their children to take up hobbies that enable them to become makers.