Empowering minds and machines: An experiential learning | Aga Khan Academies

Empowering minds and machines: An experiential learning

07 December 2023

Assembly Club is one of the many experiential learning clubs that have become an integral part of the Friday mornings at the Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad. The activities of the Assembly Club are designed to equip young men and women with hands-on technical skills in electronics and robotics, ranging from hands-on electronics soldering to writing machine learning codes. The core principle of the club is to promote safe innovation, learning and fun.

Assembly Club encourages students to formulate and pursue their projects while under the mentorship and supervision of the club supervisor. The students begin by having one-on-one meetings with the club supervisor, where they agree to follow the fundamental principles of the club to ensure the culture of ethical leadership, academic inquiry and exploratory implementation through the safe and meticulous implementation of their projects while maintaining a growth mindset. 

Once inducted into the club, the students are required to present their ideas for the prototypes they plan to build. The prototypes are carved out of commercially available products that can be disassembled and re-configured. This acts as a proof of concept and allows the students to introduce the function, operation and safety of the tools that they would use to build their prototypes.

Throughout the timeline of the project, the students meet their supervisors every Friday to discuss their progress. They also take feedback from their peers, facilitating collaborative learning and growth. The students have regular brainstorming sessions with their supervisor to find potential and custom solutions for the hiccups they face and ensure seamless execution of the project within the designated time.

Currently, groups of students are engaged in two ongoing projects: an automatic trashcan and a remote-controlled boat. Version 1.0 of the automatic trashcan has been completed by the students, and it features an Arduino UNO, an open-source microcontroller board based on the Microchip ATmega328P microcontroller, connected with an ultrasonic sensor. Modifications allowed the trashcan lid to open and close with a pulley system. Version 1.0 was built to demonstrate the application of the idea, while the upcoming upgraded versions will add precision to the machine.

Additionally, the students are researching and testing the functions of a remote-controlled boat. They are currently studying how connecting batteries has an impact on the voltage, which in turn affects the speed of the motor. The students are re-assembling a modified battery pack with a remote-controlled car's printed circuit board (PCB). They are also conducting several tests on the placement of the motor with the PCB connected to a custom battery pack to record the motor’s efficiency.

The Assembly Club's activities nurture a keen interest in robotics and machines as the students engage in a continuous journey of discovery, adaptation and innovation. As pioneers of their projects, they learn about the importance of taking responsibility. They also learn to be self-driven while strengthening their camaraderie with their peers and supervisors.

By Academy Fellow and Intern Alberto James