Using Technology for Social Impact

I completed my 5 years dual degree from IIT Roorkee and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge. During my studies, the advanced infrastructure and equipment available to me at these institutions made me realise the dearth of resources in my school back in India. 
I realised that in India, there are many educational institutions particularly in the rural areas where the things that students are learning in their books can be explored with technology to build up more creativity. Here’s how it all started.
The Journey Within & Forward
Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” And in parallel to my doctoral work in Cambridge, I decided to take that ‘single step’ with two exciting new projects.  The first was science outreach with the objective of popularising science and research among school students in India. Its process included contacting the school network and inviting students and teachers in one place,  showing them demonstrations and connecting it with the theories of textbooks. 
Second, to set up a model of mobile education that can move to different places and give access to education in the rural sector. For this, we did a pilot by setting up a low-cost computing lab using Raspberry Pi in the outskirts of Bengaluru. Using this technology, we taught students in villages about how to learn tasks like word processing, computing, coding, presentation and analysing experiments. 
Lessons from Cambridge
Cambridge made me realise that I really enjoyed meeting people, solving problems and seeing their impact. After my education, I had two contrasting choices – one was a high paying job and the other was a startup accelerator in Singapore. I made a decision to opt for a high paying job in consulting. 
At this point, I didn’t listen to my heart but to the people around me. But my heart always kept longing for entrepreneurship and I soon started getting bored with a corporate job. It was a tough decision but one day I couldn’t take it anymore. Life is too short to not do what makes you happy. I took the hard step and left my job, leaving my boss totally surprised. Many people showed me the benefits of continuing this job, but I had made up my mind. Today I’m glad that I listened to my heart. 
Family Dynamics
My husband, Ankit, believes that unity is strength, and this applies in our lives as well as the real world. Ankit is helping solve the real-world problem of digital transformation in the banking industry. He believes in making an impact on the lives of people through the work he does. We always have discussions on the challenges or problems we face in our work. 
As startup founders, mutual cooperation is key to both the workplace and at home. Whether it is finding time to host a trivial meeting or taking turns to do household chores such as cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, etc., we constantly strive to help each other in every initiative we undertake. We also believe that sport is an important mandatory task to include and we make sure to implement it at least 3 times in our weekly routine.
Teenagers’ Relationship with Technology
Today, teenagers are using technology and the internet for a large part of the day. In the age of the Internet, information is easily available, how and what we use it for is the main difference.  
There was a time when the only practical demonstration of experiments or learnings could be displayed in the confines of the classroom or labs. 
But today, teenage students can easily understand rocket propulsion technology by seeing a shuttle launch on video platforms like Youtube, or even lectures of distinguished professors of prestigious universities. With technology, the potential for learning is practically limitless. The students should definitely leverage that. 
About the Contributor: 

Moni is a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge and the co-founder of Mobile Education for Smart Technology. She is working to bring technology in use to overcome challenges in the education sector of India by providing highly efficient and low-cost solutions. Her husband, Ankit, is the co-founder of Signzy, a digital startup for the banking sector.

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