Friday, 29 March 2019

Young minds key to technology penetration

A wise man once told me that a child’s capacity to learn is only limited by the parents or educators of the child.
Simply put, children are not born knowing what is easy or difficult to learn – social conditioning and upbringing places such barriers on them. A child not knowing that something is difficult would not have the fear of learning something, he or she will just do it.
Of course, it’s not as simplistic as it sounds, they would need to be taught through the methodology based on child pedagogy and sensitivity to their growth.
In households where children live with access to technological advancement, we will often find that after a while, they start teaching their parents how to use technology.
This untethered learning process is not prescribed in most education syllabus, but through interactions with friends, information from the Internet and other non-curricular learning that are experiential.
The point is – our young ones, especially the current generation living in the age of technology and information, derive their passions and interests not only from the school syllabus, but through the opportunities to access the technology and information given to them.
While a school or university student spends between five to eight hours a day in a classroom environment, an even bigger portion of their learning experience comes from interactions outside the classroom.
Today, this “out-of-class” environment is packed with more information than ever before. While my generation walked to libraries for information, this generation has the world’s libraries at the tips of its fingers.
With that said, there is an important challenge that needs to be addressed – while a lot of information is available on the internet, not all learning can be facilitated by simply downloading an app. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is one that will focus on cyber-physical systems.
This means that while the issue of technological awareness may be subdued with greater broadband coverage, access to the physical elements that complete the future-proof circle is subjected to the same problems of yesteryear.
It is clear that the high demands for cyber-physical equipment such as robotics, mobility applications, autonomous vehicle technology will present itself in the next decade or so.
The access to the physical part of the Industry 4.0 equation lies in the access to robotics applications, such as single-board microcontrollers, to build digital devices and interactive objects such as basic robots and other such apparatus.
To initiate such as project, Malaysia Automotive, Robotics And IoT Institute (MARii) will be organizing the MARii Activity Arena at this year’s Malaysia Autoshow 2019 in Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang. This 1,200 sq m arena will host a three day robot combat competition, autonomous vehicle challenge as well as maker and builder classes in applications such as Raspberry Pi, Micro Bit and Arduino.
Visitors, in particular the youth, will compete in various robotics segments, while visitors to the show will also be able to participate and build their own robots and other smart applications, with experienced coaches and trainers providing hands-on guidance on their projects.
I am also happy to announce that this Activity Arena will be organized by our friends from Kinabalu Coders, a community driven technology team based in Sabah. This not only signifies a strong showing of the people of Sabah at this year’s Autoshow, but also highlights the capabilities of Sabah in participating in Malaysia’s future mobility industry.
MARii’s investment at the autoshow will also pave the way for more technical and vocational education and training-based robotics and coding programmes to be held throughout the annual calendar, allowing access to more of Malaysia’s youth to experience and learn the fundamentals of cyber-physical systems.
This investment, which is still small in my humble opinion, is not only an investment in robotics and Internet of Things (IoT) education.
It is an investment in Malaysia’s future. The high demand for robotics and IoT applications will surely be part of our industrialization process. It only makes sense that we invest in the segment that will lead such a future – we must invest in our children today.
The writer is the chief executive officer of the Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii).

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