Published: 28th August 2020
Why Facebook India's School of Innovation focussed on skilling students in AR this time
School of Innovation really stepped up its game this time to teach 500 students all about AR, virtually. We talk to students to learn about their experience and Director fo Facebook India as well
Augmented Reality (AR) is the future, you know that and so does Facebook India. That's why the social networking giant's School of Innovation (SoI) programme focussed on AR this time. Think of SoI as a crash course for students in emerging technology which might make them better in their future jobs or even turn them into entrepreneurs. This 14-week virtual course, which started on March 13 this year, saw 10K+ applications, out of which, 500 students were selected which ended with a unique challenge from leading companies like Nykaa, Chumbak Design and more.
Two students who made the most of it were Naveen Madhav BM and Razwi M K from Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), Kochi. Both agreed that SoI was no regular course after all, "AR is not completely technical as there is an artistic side to it as well, like 3D modelling," says Razwi. And as far as their final project goes, they got one from Nykaa, the e-commerce platform for all things beauty. "They asked us to build something which their customers can use to check how things will look on them before purchasing them so we created an Instagram filter," inform the two. Summing up the whole experience, Naveen says that it actually helped him build confidence while Razwi is absolutely sure that this will give them an advantage in the future.
Naveen and Razwi | (Pic: Naveen and Razwi)
Now that we heard it from the participants themselves, we also had the chance to quiz Manish Chopra, Director, and Head of Partnerships, Facebook India as well. He let us in on everything that the students experienced, what were the high points and how they are doing better each year. Excerpts:
Do highlight the big wins for you from last year, especially the fact that you have integrated the VR course at SASTRA and GITAM University?
School of Innovation India (SoI) from Facebook aims to foster future talent in emerging technologies and bring cutting edge technologies to India for ambitious students. We have partnered with SV.CO to help execute the programme and are looking at inculcating a problem-solving mindset among students and skilling them to become job creators or employees in the future. Through the programme, this year we are focused on driving awareness for Spark AR, conducting an open programme for students to learn and develop AR solutions and university integration. We have also successfully integrated a credit-based VR curriculum in SASTRA Deemed University and GITAM University to enable students to get a deeper knowledge of VR and earn university credits as part of their course.
The School of Innovation also recently concluded its Open Program which saw the brightest minds of the country get an opportunity to exhibit their talent by designing effects using Augmented Reality. The programme received over 10,500 applications from students this year and shortlisted 500 students to participate. In addition, SoI also recently partnered with the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to launch a comprehensive curriculum on Augmented Reality (AR), for secondary school students, under Facebook for Education, a global initiative by Facebook, to build diverse learning communities and bring the world closer together. The AR curriculum will be available for 10,000 teachers in the first phase (July- October) and 30,000 students in the succeeding phase.
Apart from focussing on AR this time, what else has been done differently from SoI 1.0?
With the second edition of the School of Innovation, we wanted to expand the horizons of participating students as well as expand the reach of the programme manifold for it to unlock opportunities for many more talented students. With SoI 2.0, we sought to educate students and create Augmented Reality skill sets on Spark AR as one of the key priorities. The programme received an overwhelming response with over 10K+ applications from which 500 students were shortlisted for a 14-week hands-on course on AR followed by a unique AR Challenge to ensure practical implementation of the learning modules. This was further brought to life as leading industry partners such as UNICEF, Nykaa, Chumbak came together to give real-time problem statements to the students for them to devise solutions that can be implemented in a real-world scenario.
Over the course of the programme, students had the opportunity to attend sessions with Facebook and industry experts on various aspects of AR. Through the awareness track, we were able to reach out to thousands of students and some of them took a three-week premier course of AR and participated in an AR Challenge enabling them to learn with practical implementation.
Manish Chopra, Director, and Head of Partnerships, Facebook India | (Pic: Facebook India)
What is being done to keep participants continuously engaged even after the batch concludes? Are you also helping them bag short-term projects or internships with companies?
Mentorship and preparing the participating students with industry skills have been at the core of SoI 2.0. The student teams were assigned industry experts as coaches for the duration of the programme, for guidance and feedback at different stages. We also encourage students to continue being in touch with their coaches for future guidance and support.
During the course of the programme, students were also given a chance to learn from and showcase their projects to leading AR agencies, brands, Facebook members, and industry experts through different workshops and sessions creating substantial career opportunities in the process. Further, the partner brands are also looking at integrating the AR solutions developed by the students as part of their campaigns as well as offering internships to some students to enable them to sharpen their skills.
Share a few high points of this batch. And for the people at Facebook, what have been the biggest takeaways?
The second edition of the SoI programme started a couple of weeks before the lockdown was imposed in India however this did not deter the students. Despite some students moving back to their hometowns and facing various challenges including connectivity, they performed exceptionally well and were able to complete the program successfully with the active support of their coaches.
The problem statements given by brands were complex and it was heartening to see the students develop AR effects which were within the brand guidelines and parameters given to them and were up to industry standards. The SoI is focused on skilling the future generation of job seekers and entrepreneurs and will continue to focus on providing technical knowledge and practical skills through such initiatives in the future.
The kind of problem statements students were given:
- From Chumbak Designs (lifestyle brand): Theme partners asked solutions around brand awareness and to move to a more premium space, where Chumbak is seen more than a souvenir brand and highlighting Chumbak’s new offerings
- From Zostel (hostel chain): The target is to focus on three of the many products/elements of Zostel and popularise them amongst the masses through social media. First being unexplored destinations, Zostel’s mascot and online common rooms
For more on them, check out