Machines & Robots train underprivileged students

Enthused by the prospect of further upgrading the vocational training of orphan boys looked after and educated by the Ramakrishna Mission and giving them a bump-up in their starting salary, Rotary Club of Madras East, D 3232, has executed yet another, and this time their biggest ever single global grant project of $110,000.

Inauguration of the CIM project. Seen in the picture are DG R Srinivasan and RCME President B S Puroshotham.
Inauguration of the CIM project. Seen in the picture are DG R Srinivasan and RCME President B S Puroshotham.

This involves the gifting of ‘Machines and Robots’, a Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) project which will provide the trainees at the Polytechnic run by RKM in Chennai with state-of-the-art, futuristic manufacturing technology skills.

Giving details of the project, RCME President B S Puroshotham says that every year the club works harder to go one step further to improve the sustainability and scalability of the projects executed by it in the previous years. Whether it is public health projects to help the Public Health Centre and the Childs Trust Hospital, or vocational services to RKM and V-Excel, each project has addressed a key current social development need.

Despite India, one of the youngest nations in the world, adding almost 16 million people to the workforce every year, there is a huge gap in the availability of skilled labour in the Indian market today. According to statistics from NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation), barely five per cent of the total workforce in India has received some sort of skill training. So the skilling area was chosen to execute the global grant totalling nearly ₹70 lakh.

Juxtapose this with the fact that the RKM has a shelter facility for 70 orphan boys in a building that is adjacent to their polytechnic in Chennai. From this polytechnic, every year around 150 students from an underprivileged background go into the work stream. Students of RKM who are trained here are placed across various industry segments with salaries ranging from ₹10,000–20,000 a month.

“So when we decided to do a global grant to address the huge skill gap in young Indians who undertake vocational education, RKM with its long track record in providing diploma courses to students from underprivileged background, and with who, we have done several projects earlier, was a natural partner,” he says.

RKM Polytechnic students at the inaugural meet.
RKM Polytechnic students at the inaugural meet.

The organisation already provides a three-year polytechnic course to students from underprivileged backgrounds with the focus on employment-specific and industry-relevant skills and education. It has been doing this service and providing diploma courses to underprivileged students since 1932 with a highly successful track record in placing students in reputed companies.


Involving the beneficiary

Also, RKM and RC Madras East have a long-standing relationship, which includes the club donating major laboratory equipment to them in 2015, and keeping in mind RI’s constant advice to clubs to do projects that the community or the beneficiaries want, the club sought ideas from RKM for the latest grant.

“Principal Sugumar of RKM exp-ressed the need to set up a state-of-art CIM lab where the students could be given skills that are not only industry-specific but also widely relevant to the manufacturing industry,” says Secretary of the club Papa Rao.

RKM then suggested a list of equipment they need for skilling their students in latest manufacturing techniques. Rtn Raghuraman, a member of the club who now lives in Switzerland, during his visit to India, spent a good two weeks fine tuning the project.

The project was also vetted with the help of Mahadevan, Vice President of India Pistons, which already works with RKM. His team reviewed RKM’s current facilities and together with the Rotarians and RKM, designed a modern CIM lab. “Rtn Raghuraman’s advice and help in fine tuning the project’s exact equipment requirements and specifications was invaluable. The final quotations were vetted from multiple vendors, and a supplier chosen from Pune,” says Purushotham.

Rao adds that even before the global grant money could come in, “the Pune manufacturer started working on the equipment without our having to give him a single rupee in advance, thanks to Rotary’s credibility and public image. And within a few months the lab was ready and was inaugurated. The entire project was conceived, researched, planned and executed in less than a year.”

While the project was being planned, RCME reached out to Rtn Harish Murthy from the Rotary Club of Irvine, USA, who agreed to be their international partner, adds the club president.

Apart from the equipment sought, 15 desktop computers and a DVD writer are also being donated to facilitate this computer integrated learning. The club expects the RKM CIM lab to be a state-of-the-art showcase facility for other vocational training institutions to improve their own skilling programmes. This lab will also conduct ‘train the trainer’ programmes for internal and external faculty from other polytechnics, and will be used for skill enhancement training modules for mechanical and automobile students.

“With the CIM training, we expect more reputed companies to come for campus placement of the best students and at least a 20 per cent hike in their starting salary,” adds the club secretary.

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