Technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and digital transformation are at the center of the UAE's rise to become one of the most advanced countries in the region ... and soon to be the world. To keep up with its status as an ever-advancing nation, the Gulf country's future generation must be well-prepared for all the changes that lie ahead.
Enter STEAMathalon, a company focused on building initiatives to up-skill the UAE's youth so that they're "future-proofed."
Founded by Aaditya Tangri, the unique firm has successfully launched several workshops and initiatives, the latest of which saw the activation of the world's first AI robot at the DP World Tour Championship.
In an interview with StepFeed, Tangri told us more about the vision behind the company and its exciting upcoming projects.
A program designed to prep students for a tech-driven future
Designed to "future proof" students right from when they start kindergarten to when they finish high school, STEAMathalon truly revolutionizes education as we know it.
Tangri told us this transformation is achieved "through a competitive play-based innovation league, raising the bar for positive education, happiness, wellbeing, social impact and 21st-century skills." The program focuses on incorporating an innovative variety of subjects within core curriculums. These include the regular materials like science, art, and math, and extend to technology, engineering, coding, UN Sustainable Development goals and citizenship.
STEAMathalon focuses on turning learning into a "sport full of excitement, challenge and intrigue. At the same time, we also want to remove any mental barriers or inhibitions while learning about future technology like AI, science, math," Tangri explained to StepFeed.
The program's effectivity lies in the fact that it's able to mimic future workplace settings by providing learners with real-world links and removing the barriers that hide away learning, well-being, and future technologies from students.
One of the first initiatives launched by the company saw teams of students create a community-farmed social network of vertical farms using Natural Language Processing.
"Imagine humans talking to plants and working together to solve food shortage and preventing food wastage," Tangri said rhetorically.
Another STEAMathalon event provided students with tools to create and manage professional sporting careers of GolfBots in an AI Golf Tournament using Deep Learning.
One of the most recent initiatives established by the firm focused on the pressing issues of climate change and sustainability. Students taking part in the endeavor were asked to use drones and artificial intelligence to raise awareness on climate action and promote sustainability in the marine ecosystem.
Other projects included ones that saw students create and commandeer autonomous ships to promote global trade. This specific feat was facilitated by their use of Deep Learning and Machine Learning.
STEAMathalon is rising in popularity among UAE schools
Tangri explained that a large number of schools are now taking part in STEAMathalon to provide their students with a unique educational opportunity.
In recent months, UAE schools including GEMS, Taaleem, and Innoventures along with independent schools like Jumeirah English Speaking School and Kings Schools all actively participated in the program.
The company's CEO hugely values the way local schools have responded to the program but is also thankful to corporations who've been supporting its growth in the country.
"We are thankful for corporations such as Intel, Dubai Carbon, DP World Tour Championship, The Els Club, BMW Group Middle East and Airbus who recognize the need to support innovation, inclusivity and well-being among the youth," he said.
The program focuses on AI, a developing field in the UAE
When asked how important he believes it is to incorporate AI in learning processes, Tangri stressed its vitality to educating future generations.
Other than allowing for the customization in learning practices and saving time, STEAMathalon's founder sees AI as an "equalizer that will be able to make a good teacher push their boundaries and become great."
"Moving away from traditional, subject-specific lessons through reworking the concept of the timetable is a trend that we have noticed in the leading schools that we've worked with. The hidden opportunity here is to effectively utilize time and help teachers as well as learners to adopt innovation and well-being in schools," he emphasized.
Tangri told us that knowing how this model can thrive in the education sector and help improve the teaching and learning process in its entirety is encouraging. He also added that because it allows kids to learn coding, it helps them gain confidence in their ability to create using their own ideas.
The UAE's education sector continues to evolve
The UAE is known for its keenness on developing AI technologies and that has certainly influenced STEAMathalon's initiatives in the country.
"The education sector in UAE is similar to the tech sector in San Francisco: it's constantly evolving," Tangri told us, adding that the country is "like the Silicon Valley for education."
The CEO believes the country is a prime location for people who are in the AI education sector. One of the many reasons that make it the perfect setting is the fact that it's host to a large number of private schools "that are willing and able to try innovative solutions, implement the best practices and embody the true spirit of the nation," he added.