In Love With Robotics
Dimple Verma’s WHIZROBO works to provide STEM education through innovative and creative ideas in robotics.
Dimple Verma’s journey as an entrepreneur happened by a lucky accident. For this mother of two, it began as a way to engage her son’s interest in technology. “I have a degree in software and have always been interested in developing a happy medium for my children to grow up learning and understanding the sciences,” she says.
She taught her son about technology from an early age. Soon, she realized that he was fascinated with gadgets and was experimenting with those available to him.
He then showed interest in robotics. “We faced our first big challenge—there was nothing related to robotics in our city, Ludhiana. I started traveling from one city to another to get the best possible training for my son. To my utter surprise, I found myself getting involved in the whole process, and discovered my own passion for robotics education,” recalls Verma.
It was a turning point for her. She decided to open a robotics institute to create awareness among the young about STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education through robotics. Thus was born WHIZROBO (Institute of Robotics Science & Technology).
Verma participated in the All-India Road Show on Women’s Economic Empowerment through Entrepreneurship (AIRSWEEE 2.0), a Public Affairs New Delhi grant program implemented by the U.S.-based nonprofit organization The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE Inc.) and its India chapters. As a woman entrepreneur, Verma says, she faced “the challenges of making the business profitable along with the extra dosage of gender bias and discrimination.” Being a part of Project AIRSWEEE 2.0 offered her a supportive environment to grow and evolve. “The expert advice from my mentors helped me develop systems which have been extremely helpful,” she says. “I have been able to target my audience (schools) in a more effective way, which has resulted in successful collaborations.”
“Whizrobo is a pioneer in setting up robotics labs and clubs, providing specialized training and workshops in schools all over Punjab and training more than 5,000 students. It was awarded Gold in Education Category by the Government of Punjab.” Whizrobo has represented India at various national and international championships for robotics.
The company also develops projects and robots for industries according to their requirements. Recently, it developed a multipurpose robot, Dream Machine, for the Indian Army. It can also be used by health departments and other industries.
Verma plans to step into artificial intelligence soon. “It’s important to be ready to learn, innovate and to keep an open mind,” she says.
There has, of course, been debate on the use of robotics, especially in a country like India with a huge labor force.
“I have faced questions from people wondering if it’s wise to step into the field of robotics as India already has a huge labor force available at a fraction of a cost. To this, I point out that robotics is not eroding the labor force, but it’s adding another dimension to the scenario,” asserts Verma. “For example, during the Industrial Revolution, people were apprehensive that machines would take away employment from humans. Robotics is viewed in a similar way by many. In reality, it’s an additional factor in the normal course of events that has led to the ‘human revolution.’ ”
She believes that robotics has untapped and unimaginable potential to change the way we work. “It has the latent power to create a brand new revolution, which is going to reshape society as we know it,” says Verma. “It will provide backup to the labor force in the coming years and will be ready to take up the slack when the current labor force ages. India will face labor shortage like Europe and Japan now. Instead of taking away jobs, it is going to create whole new vistas, unexplored till now.”
She advises aspiring women entrepreneurs to be open to the opportunities life brings. “They may come disguised as challenges, but take them on even if you are not prepared,” says Verma. “Criticisms, failures and disappointments might make you want to give up. But, don’t!”
“The most important thing, which helped me in the darkest times, was my support system,” she continues. “So, have a support system, someone who can see your vision and help you achieve it.”
Ranjita Biswas is a Kolkata-based journalist. She also translates fiction and writes short stories.