Success of the first Indo-French STEAM School (25th November to 4th December)

The first edition of the Indo-French S.T.E.A.M. School took place from 25th November to 4th December in Mumbai. Hosted by the Makers’ Asylum, a fablab based in Mumbai, this 9-day programme has been co-designed by Maker’s Asylum and the Centre de Recherche Interdisciplinaire (CRI) of Paris, it aimed at connecting the Indian and French ecosystems of open source innovation. Airbus, Ubisoft and Imaginarium sponsored this initiative which benefitted from the support of the Scientific Department of the Embassy as well.

This S.T.E.A.M School – “S.T.E.A.M.” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics – is the outcome of an initiative by the SST that started in 2015 with the visit in India by Nicolas Huchet and his project BionicoHand, and further developed with Vaibhav Chhabra, founder of Makers’ Asylum, who visited the CRI in France in April 2016.

This programme gathered 36 participants (including 2 French students of CRI) coming from a diversity of regions and backgrounds (students, engineers, architects, designers, doctors, social entrepreneurs), selected among more than 200 applicants. The participants were divided into 6 groups, each one in charge of designing a solution to existing Urban Challenges in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Throughout the programme, they received training in Design thinking, Rapid Prototyping, 3D Printing, Electronics/IoT, and AR/VR to acquire the necessary skills, with constant mentorship from Indian and French experts, who also gave presentations on topics such as ‘Waste Recycling and Design’, or ‘Gamification’. The participants also went on field trips to visit Dharavi slum and a Suez Environnement construction site, and some of them could even test their prototypes with potential users, for instance at Vile Parle hospital.

The 6 projects are:

  • LOCOM: an ear-fixed device to enable paraplegics to use a computer using only head motion;
  • Braille Buddy: a device to instantly tranform visual information into braille;
  • SMILE: a mobile street lamp made of recycled materials powered by self-cleaning solar panels to recharge mobile devices;
  • DharaWe: a game-like mobile application to develop a mutual support network at the district level;
  • The Water Walk: a game to create awareness on water issues;
  • Maker Auto on the Road: a geolocalised rickshaw turned into a mini-classroom, equipped with an interactive smart table to teach geography or mathematics through games.


Two side events were also organised during the programme: 6 experts from India and France met for a lively roundtable on “Intellectual property in a changing world”; and a workshop designing and constructing a bionic hand prosthesis.

Several French and Indian companies have expressed interest in the event. Some projects will be carried up to commercialisation phase. The enthusiasm and creativity of all the participants ensured that the event was a success, and a second edition in 2017 is already under consideration.

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