A Kashmiri engineer is simplifying Robotics in the valley by providing a platform to students aspiring to make a career in the adventurous field.
By Arbeena Shah
AS a campus routine, engineering students of Kashmir would rely on remote relief till recent past to complete their project work.
But such desperate degree completion bids—promoting a culture of foreign reliance—would often prove a bumpy ride for aspiring techies.
When Tahir Showkat Bazaz became mindful of this despairing dependence, he decided to make Robotics a feasible project for Kashmiri students.
A merit-holder who clinched gold upon completing his engineering degree in 2015, this 28-year-old Kashmiri techie brought smiles to distressed students with his proactive self-starting endeavour.
“Engineering students of Kashmir would prefer to go outside for their project work due to lack of expertise and proper guidance in the valley,” Tahir says, as we meet in his office chamber filled with projects and tech vibes.
“Those who couldn’t afford to go outside ended up facing a tough time. But now, Kashmiri students have guidance available back home.”
That guidance has already created a sweeping campus change, as since 2015, Tahir has successfully made more than 500 innovative and exciting projects with his students. He has also conducted several Robotics workshops in various schools.
Some of his prominent projects include Wireless Robotic Hand, Smart ‘Tashnear’, Tricopter, Medicine Box, Smart Pen, 3D Printer-based abrasive Jet, Bot, Miners Helmet, and AI based Home Automation System.
“Despite being a topper in my academic career,” Tahir, who has won awards in Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India, says, “I always knew that I had to assist my tribe struggling to submit their crucial engineering projects.”
He finally became a helping hand for the campus-deprived students—about whom he says, “Kashmiri students possess an unmatched IQ level and have the capability to make a lasting mark in different technical fields”—after he qualified national level exam: GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering).
He started with an engineering student from Pulwama and never looked back.
“I still remember how that student gifted me a pack of walnuts as a token of gratitude,” Tahir says, with a beaming face. “With that single reassuring case, I embarked on a fulfilling journey.”
However, his conviction came with its own cost.
He had to reject placement offers from various well-known technological companies—Wipro, TCS, Sagacious IP, Magneti Marelli, Larsen & Tourbo Infotech—to guide the students.
He became a game-changer after he approached a Delhi-based institute for a trainer to set up a Robotics franchise in Srinagar.
But before becoming a reliable mentor ending outside dependence for Kashmiri engineering students, this middle class family boy from Srinagar’s Karan Nagar area had greatly toiled to come of age.
He cracked AIEEE (All India Engineering Entrance Examination), now known as JEE (Joint Entrance Examination) and got selected in National Institute of Technology (NIT), Srinagar. He completed his B.Tech degree in Electronics & Communication with a shimmering gold.
Between his M.Tech and mentorship, he chose latter by staying in Kashmir only.
Howbeit, not to upset his father, in September 2015, he joined the Sagacious IP- the Global IP Research and Consulting Firm, Gurugram, as a patent analyst.
Besides working there, he acquired some additional knowledge from various institutes and workshops in Delhi during weekends which were required for opening the first of its kind technical institute in Srinagar.
Tahir used his earnings in renovating and setting up the rooms and required infrastructure in his hometown.
The next step was to apprise the students about Robotics by conducting workshops.
The young techie knew that he had to follow a bottom-to-top model until he achieves some visibility in the market.
“I approached schools, but almost all of them rejected to conduct robotics workshop,” he says.
“At last, I got an approval call from the Presentation Convent Higher Secondary School just one day before the onset of their vacations.”
Students eventually showed interest in the subject and began enrolling themselves in Tahir’s Robosapiens during winters.
To help distressed students back home, he even gave up his PhD at IIT Kanpur and IIT Delhi under the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme. His dedication, however, didn’t disappoint him.
Tahir got a major breakthrough when three of his students grabbed the third rank in the All India Robotics Competition held in February 2016 that consisted of students from 28 states.
“It was an incredible and a proud moment for me,” the techie says. “Indeed, it was my first and big achievement as a guide. Since that day my franchise started growing both in terms of students as well as the projects.”
He next wants to open a talent-based technological institute in the valley where students would learn things on the basis of their skills irrespective of their qualification.
“I did drop many opportunities in my career already, but I’m content with my work,” Tahir says. “I believe, sacrifices ultimately lead to satisfaction in life.”
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