Over the next few years, advanced cloud computing and data skills will become more important than ever for current digitally skilled workers and future workers according to a report prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta, commissioned by Amazon Web Services (AWS). The report, which focuses on six Asia Pacific (APAC) countries including India, also estimates that the demand for these skills is likely to triple by 2025.
This was one of the drivers for the AWS Young Builders Challenge 2021, an initiative aimed at promoting and fostering a scientific temper, computational and design thinking, and coding skills among school students. Launched with support from the Ministry of Education – Innovation Cell (Govt. of India); Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog; Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE); and Code.org, the initiative aims to introduce young minds to the basics of disruptive technologies such as cloud computing, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), and inspire them to create a positive impact in India using these technologies.
Since its launch in October 2021, the AWS Young Builders Challenge saw an average of new 100 schools signing up every day during the registration period, indicating the keen interest school students have to learn about new technology and experiment with it for ideation. The enthusiastic participation saw 2938 schools across 28 states and six union territories across India submitting a total of 5952 projects.
The winning ideas
10 schools from the top 100 in India were invited to present their ideas at the concluding virtual showcase event in November 2021 to an external jury comprising educators. The top 10 schools were Aditya Vidyashram Residential School, Delhi; Amity International School, Noida, Uttar Pradesh; Army Public School, Kolkata, West Bengal; Bal Bharati Public School, Dwaraka, Delhi; BCM Arya Model Sr. Secondary School, Punjab; Delhi Public School, Sector-45, Gurugram, Haryana; HAL Public School, Karnataka; Kendriya Vidyalaya, Vijayanarayanam, Tamil Nadu; Salwan Public School, Delhi; and The Amaatra Academy, Karnataka. Seven of these schools are Atal Tinkering Labs (ATLs), an initiative by the Atal Innovation Mission, NITI Aayog.
Individual students from these top 10 schools showcased various innovative ideas based on cloud computing and AI, designed to address real issues in today’s world, such as an app for water conservation through smart irrigation techniques, an AI-enabled application for smart farming, an intelligent bus lane system, a smart energy application, and a ‘diagnoser robot’ that identifies health conditions. The participants were equipped with a rich selection of learning modules from Atal Innovation Mission and AWS, and tutorials from Code.org to understand the fundamentals of cloud computing and AI and build their ideas.
Cloud computing is at the heart of digital transformation and innovation.
Sunil PP, Lead – Education, Space and Non-Profits, AWS India and South Asia, Amazon Internet Services Private Limited said, “Cloud computing is at the heart of digital transformation and innovation, and at AWS, we believe machine learning will be the most transformative technology of our generation. An AWS study estimates that the digital skills requirement in India will increase nine-fold by 2025, making digital skills development an imperative. With the AWS Young Builders Challenge, we wanted to familiarize the school-going generation with computer science, cloud computing and AI, so they can absorb this experience, and be inspired to become future builders and innovators.”
Building a socially-conscious, skilled, and innovative workforce for the future
The showcase event of the AWS Young Builders Challenge can be viewed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl-nkKaEC18
The AWS Young Builders Challenge 2021 showcase event brought together government, education and industry leaders to further the objective of building a digital-ready workforce for the future.
A particular idea may or may not work but to build that kind of a curiosity quotient to find ways to solve problems and develop solutions time and again is important.
Dr. Mohit Gambhir, Director (Innovation), Innovation Cell of Ministry of Education, Government of India applauded the students’ efforts and stressed on the importance of investing in individuals rather than in an idea. He said, “A particular idea may or may not work but to build that kind of a curiosity quotient to find ways to solve problems and develop solutions time and again is important.”
Our young population will see interactions between humans and machines at a rate that we haven’t seen before.
“Our young population will see interactions between humans and machines at a rate that we haven’t seen before, because machines are catching up much faster,” said Dr. Chintan Vaishnav, Mission Director – Atal Innovation Mission, Niti Aayog. Referring to the AWS Young Builders Challenge, he added, “This is wonderful because there is clearly a lot of drive among students to do something for society through means such as visual insights and cloud computing.”
“AWS is committed to support the Government’s vision to build a Digital India and strengthen the country’s talent competency in technologies such as AI and cloud computing. We are delighted with the response to this initiative and are excited to further support the enthusiasm shown by the students,” said Sunil PP.
List of student projects from top 10 schools
|Aditya Vidyashram Residential School, Delhi*||Ravivarma N||AI for Farming – Identification and removal of weeds and insects|
|Amity International School, Noida, Uttar Pradesh*||Ranvijay Singh||Smart Energy Application – Better electricity management|
|Army Public School, Kolkata, West Bengal*||Anikate De||Kisan Dost – Smart farming application with features such as crop rotation|
|Bal Bharati Public School, Dwaraka, Delhi*||Karthik Mangla||Kisan Suvidha – Smart farming app to support farmers|
|BCM Arya Model Sr. Secondary School, Punjab||Sumedh Jain||Aleath – AI powered smart wearables|
|Delhi Public School, Sector-45, Gurugram, Haryana*||Ayana Tomar||Agri Aqua – Water conservation through smart irrigation techniques|
|HAL Public School, Karnataka||Anuranj Rajesh||Doctor DR (Diagnoser Robot)|
|Kendriya Vidyalaya, Vijayanarayanam, Tamil Nadu*||Yashas R Nair||Intelligent Plant Growth Monitoring System (i-PGMS)|
|Salwan Public School, Delhi*||Swasti Mangla||Krishi Seva App – AI enabled application for smart farming|
|The Amaatra Academy, Karnataka||Venkat Tanmay Kumar||Intelligent Bus Lane System (IBLS) – Alerts motorists on priority vehicles and ambulances|
*Atal Tinkering Lab
The top 10 schools won a virtual AI/ML lab sponsored by AWS for one year, Amazon.com vouchers, trophies for schools and students, and AWS branded merchandise. In addition, the 10 teams also gain direct entry to the Smart India Hackathon (SIH) juniors track, proposed to happen in 2022. Three schools – Aditya Vidyashram Residential School, Pondicherry, Amity International School, Noida, and Kendriya Vidyalaya Vijayanarayanam, Tamil Nadu – were also voted as the top public favourites, based on popular votes.