Education for Capacity Building in IoT
Imparting good quality higher education has always been a challenge for every country. More so in New Technology areas as it requires to keep abreast with the fast pace of ever changing and upgrading tech by every passing day or week. This is more evident lately as the whole industry is facing challenge to upgrade with Industry 4.0 with the advent of first Machine to Machine (M2M) and now Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and so on and so forth.
Industry was already struggling with slow adoption and shift to Centralised Computing & Management through Cloud Infra. And this sudden thrust of even more confusing but alluring digital ‘xyz’ jargons like M2M, IoT, IIoT, Industry 4.0, Smart Factory, AI, ML, Edge Computing, AR, VR and what not. Now this poses a huge challenge but equally big opportunity for Higher Education Institutes and Universities across globe as they are expected to deliver the resources to build, operate, maintain, manage and also upgrade this whole upcoming Systems, Processes and Intelligent Infra. Our government should take this even more seriously as India is the leading nation to produce IT engineers and enjoys majority share in supplying technical resources globally.
So the government, especially the HRD Ministry should be pleased to stumble upon this massive opportunity and embrace this in split second without even first thought, but then this is not an easy ‘cake-walk’ task. Developing good quality high-tech resources had always been an Achilles heel for India barring IT programmers, as it needs Mega pool of expertise across tens of thousands of Engineering Institutes and Technical Universities spread across India, lack of research labs and little infrastructure. We have in the past witnessed the limited success of many such large state funded programmes like SMDP, TEQUIP, RUSA, etc., with still not many global scale products and impact inventions in sight. Though some may argue that there has been improvement lately in certain KPIs but in general we all would agree that overall leading Indian institutes still lag on global benchmarks in quality research publications, patents and hence lower rankings by popular rating agencies.
As it takes two to tango, we as industry are also responsible along with our authorities for the dim state of our dated education system. All these years there were hardly any leading industry participating or helping improve our education barring a few like Tatas, Birla, etc., by little intervention most probably to help their own cause. More or less it was left at the pity of money minded businessmen who grabbed this opportunity with both hands to churn out moolah from these money spinning shops. They hardly spared any thoughts on quality and the future of these millions of engineers graduating year after year. But by no means this critique suggests the future is dark, and not all is lost.
Recently many young companies and startups have felt the heat as they find difficult to hire ready to use quality human resources. Unlike big companies, they have limited finances to recruit students en masse and then train them for months to a year to make them productive and achieve successful results within no time. We are also one such New Delhi based young and growing R&D company focusing on developing new technologies for IoT. But instead of giving up or cribbing about our education system, we rather decided to improve this situation. We took the challenge of somehow educating budding engineers at least in IoT which is our domain of expertise. We requested our team to develop a Hardware/Software platform for WSN/IoT Education which could be utilised by ECE/CSE engineering students to not only learn and rapidly prototype new IoT applications but also delve deeper into various technologies for research orientation.
When some professors and research scholars started using this HW/SW platform for self and student training, the results were heart warming to see. Students were excited to see the "Smart Things" in action, Researchers were happy to find a platform to actually work on and Professors bullish on the prospects of publishing research papers as well as finding a training tool to demonstrate the ‘If this then what’ concepts of WSN and& IoT.
In the process, we have now signed up to partner with more than 70 Universities across India to setup such advanced WSN/IoT Testbed Labs, with many more appreciating the concept of setting up IoT testbed, and are willing and ready to adopt this platform in near future. We believe this testbed platform will not only train the faculties involved in IoT education but it will also help students in using very modular and flexible modules to DIY prototyping innovative and exciting smart applications. We feel satisfaction and contentment after discharging our responsibility by contributing our bit to this uphill task. This will not only help improve IoT education but also help us in getting well trained talent ready to immediately work on our live projects and probably help us meet our harsh project deadlines to deliver.