Published: 21st May 2018
How Siddharth Bhatter created a workshop where Odisha's students could create just about anything
Have you been to a place where you can build a gadget in a few hours — all this without an engineering degree? If not, you should consider visiting Bhubaneswar's Karkhana
It all started when a father and son duo asked for 27-year-old engineer Siddharth Bhatter's help with a college project. That wasn't the first time he was asked for help because, since childhood, he was known for his creativity and productive ideas. He could not only see the loopholes in India's education system but he never shied away from speaking out about it. So, it was only a matter of time before he decided to do something about it. "After helping them out with the project, it occurred to me that the education we get, especially in the technical and scientific sector, doesn't help us on the field," he raises his concern.
Think. Shape. Create
Not one to sit and crib about the system, Bhatter thought of building a platform to guide the 'freshly-brewed millennials' and help them channel their ideas and dreams. "I wanted to build a space where they can polish their skills and showcase their talents," he says, with a spark in his eyes, anxious to explain why he named his dream venture — Karkhana. “A human brain contains a plethora of ideas, just like a factory that produces various products. Hence, we named it Karkhana (Hindi for factory)!" he explains.
Experiment away: Young tech enthusiasts make gadgets in Karkhana
Karkhana is a place where you will see young tech enthusiasts and incredibly energetic kids make gadgets in a few hours. The place defines Bhatter's vision to the hilt. "We provide students with a lab where they can harness their hidden interests under some amount of guidance. In return, we get talent that believes in keeping up with the latest trends in technology and science," Bhatter tells us, "Most of the industries hesitate to invest in developing their human resource," he says. This is what separates them from others.
From robots to chatbots
When you see this vibrant place with gadgets like a four-legged spider robot, a humanoid, a dancing robot and a wallcrawler being designed by kids as young as eight, it is hard to believe that it was initially a small room supported solely by Bhatter's funds. "What started as a small gesture of helping a school student has now not only trained over 523 students but developed drones and robots for the government too," says Bhatter, getting nostalgic.
Karkhana offers a workspace for innovative minds
It guides them to become better with their ideas
It provides them with gadgets and infrastructure
It gives students exposure by popularising their work
It collaborates with the government by outsourcing in-house talent
He credits all the growth to the persistence and faith he maintained even when he was chucked out of the class — daydreaming about what gadget he would make next. "Almost all my professors said that there is no future in whatever I was doing," he recalls. But his abilities didn't go unnoticed and he was appointed as the President of the Robotics Club at Jaipur National University, after which many opportunities knocked on his door. After starting a full-time job and not being motivated by it, he quit and soon after, started Karkhana, along with his colleagues Akash Verma, Rahul Kumar Anand, Himanshu Vishwakarma and Raja Pandit.
All aboard the innovation express
With a current workforce of over 15 people, Bhatter has also provided 500 training workshops to students and faculties in Odisha and beyond. But, there is no stopping for this innovative and charged team. "We not only look forward to bridging the existing educational inequalities but also mentor entrepreneurial talents of inquisitive minds. We believe that ‘Make in India’ is a promising initiative and we can contribute to that," Bhatter says of his latest plans, "It is just the beginning for us."