From huge traffic jams to boats capsizing, Bangladeshis face diverse challenges. But innovative youths can innovate their way to solving these problems by leveraging the country’s rich resources and low-cost technologies.
In May 2016, around 100 innovative graduate students from universities across the country participated in the prototyping contest known as the Make-A-Thon 2016.
Within 3 days, they developed 32 prototypes to tackle problems affecting a wide range of sectors: healthcare, transport and infrastructure, agriculture, biomedical engineering, energy generation, physical challenges, sustainable energy management and many more.
Building a community of makers and problem-solvers
The World Bank-financed Higher Education Quality Enhancement Program (HEQEP), implemented by the University Grants Commission and the Ministry of Education and the World Bank through Better Stories organized the Make-A-Thon and Maker Fest to cultivate a community of makers, who will support the development of Fab Labs (fabrication labs) in 10 universities in Bangladesh.
Prior to the Make-A-Thon, a series of Maker Fest events were organized at 7 leading universities to build a community of aspiring innovators. Maker Fest is based on the principle that everyone is a maker and taps into the innovativeness and problem solving skills of Bangladesh’s younger generation.
Students’ Inventions at Make-A-Thon
Participants made 32 prototypes using ordinary materials such as paper, foam polystyrenes, and metal as well as more advanced hardware and software like sensors, 3D printers, the open-source electronic prototyping platform Arduino or the programming computer Raspberry Pi.
The students’ products aim to save river commuters from drowning, keep rivers clean, conduct quality control of milk, or help enhance the government’s surveillance capacity to keep people safe. They also invented smart canes for visually impaired people, and devices for parents to find affordable toys for their kids.
Some teams had been working on their project for a while. Others instantly teamed up at the event and kick-started their project from scratch. Students from different universities and institutions were quick to make friends and collaborate with each other to achieve something big.