Meet The IIT Professor Who Designed Solar-Powered Backpacks For Village Kids

This amazing news comes to us from India.

“I have always admired the remarkable display of teamwork, traditions, and thoughtful approach that communities in the Northeast display when they come together to help each other”, are the words of encouragement uttered by a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Charu Monga from Guwahati. She further added, “The traditions they follow, the way they find answers to everyday problems- there’s a design to it.” Charu wishes to explore more about how these principles can be combined with emerging technologies and in a desire to do so, she regularly conducts workshops to interact with the children to develop their innovative mindsets.

It was during one such interaction with a young boy that she encountered the difficulties the village kids face due to an early sunset and infrequent power supply. These issues not only hampered their playtime but also became an obstacle in their desire to study and learn. This made her invent ‘Jugnu’, a solar-powered backpack. She said, “It’s fascinating how nature finds its way through the darkness. I found Jugnu the same way.”

Jugnu is a backpack that is made from recycled plastic and has an integrated solar light.  The bag is waterproof and the light is hands-free. While explaining about Jugnu, Charu said, “More importantly, the children don’t have to worry about charging this light, or forgetting it at school or at home.” She further explained that each bag contained a unique lab kit that would help the children to come up with their inventions.

Charu also established various community innovation hubs that aimed to provide access to devices like Virtual Reality headsets and well-curated course content so that they are encouraged to create and invent on their own. She exclaimed, “So many children have come up with numerous solutions, like solar-powered boats and LED lights to solve the problems they were facing in their districts.”

To date, Charu has organized workshops related to Science, design, and creativity for over 2,500 students and distributed over 200 Jugnu backpacks across 20 schools in seven districts. She also said, “In a way, these communities are lighting up their own lives, just like fireflies.”  

This great initiative by Charu has helped thousands of children overcome their problem of not being able to play or study in the dark. Let’s hope to make the children more innovative and creative through such initiatives.

Image Source: Indian Women Blog

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