Electronics engineer and Fab Academy certified
Innovation Hub In-Charge at the Muktangan Exploratory Science Center, Pune, India
Leads an all-girl team in the Seed the Entrepreneur of the Future program and develops content for Atal Tinkering Labs, both supported by La Fondation Dassault Systèmes
With the help La Fondation Dassault Systèmes, the Muktangan Exploratory Science Center is participating in the development of content for the Atal Tinkering Labs in 8 000 schools throughout the country. The guided manual will provide complete instructions and materials on how to perform group and individual tasks for 70 activities across 14 themes. It will be distributed as a book to all the ATL schools, allowing rural areas to benefit from this invaluable STEAM educational content regardless of internet access issues.
Miss Arundhati Jadhav’s interest in science and technology is deeply rooted in her childhood. When she was 12, she built an electronics device with her brother. She was very excited to do the soldering with him and place the components. They even broke the nine-volt battery to see what was inside and Arundhati did various experiments with it. When she was 14 years old, she participated in a workshop where she worked with electronic components, reinforcing her interest.
The 27-year old native of a village located in India’s capital district of Maharashtra is now an electronics engineer and a “FabLab girl”, as she likes to call herself. After completing the Fab Academy certified course from MIT in Boston, she got an opportunity to work as an innovation coach and started a career as a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) education developer. She is now in charge of the Innovation Hub at the Muktangan Exploratory Science Center in Pune, a unique science center with 7 labs established in 1992. She focuses on technical skill development, training students for 21st century skills, providing guidance to implement their innovative ideas by making prototypes, as well as developing STEAM curriculum.
Education is a new field for her. While Miss Jadhav’s friends did not understand why she opted for a teacher’s job when she could have joined a company working as an engineer, her parents gave her the confidence to make this decision. They told her to do whatever made her happy. Her dad, who is a principal, proudly says that she is training the future generation. She is happy with her choice. “When I start working with the students, I am so excited. They are curious about everything. They are always asking questions. I love the energy! This job is very creative and I feel I am contributing to the community. In my 5 years of experience, I have come to believe that when you follow your passion and do what is true to your heart by contributing what you have learnt for the betterment of society, the satisfaction that you get by seeing fruitful results is immeasurable”.
Miss Arundhati Jadhav knows that she is setting an example for many people. For her own relatives – she is the first engineer in her family –, for parents asking about career advice for their children, and for girls who look up to her. She is a strong advocate for education, especially for girls in rural areas. Having completed her education in a rural area of Maharashtra, she strongly felt the difference between urban and rural education. She recalls catching up with some classmates a few years ago. Among the 40 girls who went to school with her in her village, only two or three have a job today. “It makes me very sad to think that these very intelligent girls did not have an opportunity to choose their future. They were kept away from higher education and had to marry at an early age,” she explains. While teaching as a volunteer in a district with no school infrastructure during her summer vacation, she remembers a couple of girls walking up to her, wanting to interact with her, asking questions on what to do to become like her. She could see the craving for education in their eyes.
Now, with the help of Muktangan Exploratory Science Center, she is working towards minimizing the educational gap in rural schools by providing resources, training and mentorship facilities. She believes it is essential to open small science centers in villages where opportunities for hands-on experiments, extra-curricular activities, various competitions, as well as mentoring simply do not exist as they do in urban areas. “Everyone has the right to a quality education. Providing this type of STEM curriculum gives everybody a chance. It will broaden their horizons, raise their interest, and help them develop their personality as well their communication skills,” she says. “Without access to education, they cannot know the opportunities available to them for a better life”.
Last year, Miss Arundhati Jadhav led a team of six girls to win the first phase of the Seed the Future Entrepreneur Program supported by La Fondation Dassault Systèmes. They designed and 3D-printed a refillable hand sanitizer that they now have to take to market for the second phase of the program. She could see the impact the program had on the girls. “I see such a big change. They are more mature and much more confident in their abilities now. They acquired a strong methodology for problem solving. Now, they can identify any issue, analyze it, come up with potential solutions, and decide on the best one based on specific criteria. The whole experience is a big trigger for them to choose a better career.”
Miss Jadhav is calling on parents not to treat their sons and daughters differently. “If your daughter is interested in science and technology, please support her in getting a good education. She will work hard, she will not disappoint, and she will contribute. Let her be herself and become independent. Let her develop her own identity”. Miss Jadhav told her family that she was interested in science and technology and that she wanted to become an engineer, and they supported her for her education”.
Her second message is for all teachers. She summons them to include topics related to career opportunities for girls in their regular curriculum. “If this is coming from you, then the girls will start thinking about it. Show them inspirational women from your community so that they can identify and think that, they too, can do it”. Another request is for teachers to encourage girls to participate in student state level or even national competitions so that they get more exposure.
Miss Arundhati Jadhav’s final inspirational words are for girls. “Dear girls, develop your own identity, work hard, be educated, be passionate, be confident and be creative. Nothing is impossible. Decide what you want to do, put your heart into it, and you’ll come through with great results.”