Young Filipino engineer invents mobile PC for poor Schools
by FFE PH News Staff
A 25-year-old engineer is making a difference among kids in poor, rural schools through his knowledge and natural curiosity for the possibilities of technology.
Nikko Torcita revealed that he first started getting hooked to ‘figuring out potential solutions’ to one persistent problem in the Philippines: access to quality education in rural schools. As a self-proclaimed avid fan of science, he embarked on a quest to make a difference for the children in these schools last year. What he came up with were ingenious cheap technologies, including a ‘Mobile Classroom’ computer and a phone that could be used as a microscope.
Nikko said he first came up with the idea of building the mobile classroom after seeing a project in India called ‘Hole-in-the-Wall’: ‘I was inspired by how a simple computer setup became a powerful learning tool for children in the slums of India. So I began thinking of ways I could do a similar initiative back home. But I knew that the costs would have to be realistic.’
He used a $40 British mini single-board computer called Raspberry Pi and connected it to a car battery and a Pico projector to create a no-electricity, mobile computer. With the help of his friends, he tested a prototype in Casili elementary school in Antipolo, a school that had been grappling with lack of electricity.
The DIY microscope meanwhile uses laser technology and a phone camera that is able to view a specimen using 60-times magnification. With it, students were able to view the parts of a mosquito up close. For most of the kids in Casili elementary school, this was their first time to see a microscope.
Nikko aims to bridge the gap in the rural and urban schools divide, particularly by equipping schools with cheap and alternative technology that will give students in the rural poor sector greater access to education. He said his inspiration came from fellow electrical engineer Dado Banatao whose road to getting a degree is a rags to riches story.
He said if students like those in Casili were given effective learning tools, they can also become successful engineers.