A number of Bangladeshi students have recently made an impact in global robotics competitions, but robotics education at the tertiary level in Bangladesh is still very much in the early stages.
Robotics enthusiasts who have thus far entered the limelight are mostly from engineering backgrounds and heavily dependent on the internet for robotics specific knowledge.
The students of Bangladesh University of Business and Technology (BUBT) are the champions of Asian Technology Competitiveness in the ”Tech-Kat-2017” category of “International Autonomous Robotics Challenge.” This year from 23 to 26 March the competition was held in Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Kanpur, India.
Bangladesh has secured second place in IRC in the International Robotics Competition held in Mumbai in 2014. In the top 10, there were four teams participating from Bangladesh.
The third position in the International Robotics Challenge (IRC) Competition-2013 has been achieved by Bangladesh Engineering University (Buet). The competition was held in Mumbai, India. There is also a student of Dhaka University in this group. In 2012, Buet came second in the competition.
With the founding of the robotics and mechatronics engineering department (RMED) of Dhaka University (DU) in 2015, the next batch of Bangladeshi participants in Robotics competitions could well be specialised in the field.
The department was established with the aim of ensuring that robotics studies in Bangladesh was at a level where local talent could be trained to compete in the global market of industrial scale invention.
A total of 22 students enrolled in RMED last year while 15 more are already in their second year of the honours programme. Four modern laboratories – an Electrical and Electronics Lab, Mechatronics Lab, Engineering Drawing Lab and Computer Lab - have already been set up under the RMED. Two more specialised labs – a Robotics Lab and Control Systems Lab – are to be set up in the near future.
The department, located at the Kazi Motaher Hossain building (opposite the Central Shaheed Minar) on the university campus, is yet to gain popularity due to a lack of publicity, but current students are optimistic of the opportunities on offer in the robotics sector.
Tasnim, one such student of RMED, told the Dhaka Tribune: “In Bangladesh, we depend on expert engineers from abroad because of their experience in industrial automation. So there is a demand for robotics in the country.
Besides, I had a dream of studying this subject, and when I came to know about the department, I did not give it any second thought.”
Nawara Mahmud, another student of the department, said robotics was a versatile subject, requiring a grasp of electrical as well as mechanical and computer engineering.
Dr Lafifa Jamal, Chairperson of RMED, told the Dhaka Tribune that studying robotics offers many job opportunities as the subject is a multidisciplinary one.
“There are many automated industries in Bangladesh where we need to hire experts from abroad. The country loses huge amount of money in this process. If we can train our own experts, the costs [of automation] can be minimised and the money would remain in the country,” she said.
Dr Lafifa added that students from this department will have opportunities to work in various sectors such as electricity generation, artificial intelligence, tool manufacturing, industrial engineering, biomedical system designing, smart vehicle designing, nanotechnology system designing and humanoid robot designing.
“We are hopeful that our students will be able to meet the local demand and take the sector ahead in the future,” she said.