A startup founded by engineering students of Mapua Institute of Technology is calling for beta testers for its robotic kits that aim to teach programming basics to high school seniors.
Called Machi Box Inc., the company is in the final stages of finishing the software and hardware prototype for the robotic kits, and plans to start beta testing as soon as the end of February, according to a post in the company's Facebook (FB) page. It is requesting students as well as professionals to fill up a beta test form on its FB page so company representatives can bring over sample kits for testing.
Simon Mabanta, Machi Box's founder, explained that the robotic kits use a flowchart-based program to give the high school seniors a better user experience that makes it easier to learn programming.
“Flowcharts teach those in lower school levels to learn beginner-level coding (skills). So even when you’re in elementary or college, you can use it easily," Mabanta explained. "This way, students would have an easier time to migrate from flowcharting to coding without the hassle of learning a programming language."
Entrepreneur Philippines spoke with him during the National Youth Business Conference held January 12 in Pasay City. Machi Box was one of the exhibitors during the event attended by over 500 students from all over the Philippines and some Asian countries.
Machi Box is trying to build the robotic kits, which include a Machi robot, for under Php10,000 each to make them affordable even to public schools, he added. "If you don’t have the kit, building such program would be tedious, but with ours, you can finish it in 15 minutes,” Mabanta says. He adds that Machi Box's kits are cheaper than existing products in the market by around 70 percent.
The Machi robot receives instructions either through a programmer cord that would connect to a computer terminal or through mobile applications which it would access via Bluetooth.
Mabanta dropped out of Mapua to begin freelancing because he needed to earn money. He later founded Machi Box in partnership with some of his former classmates. Most of the initial funds used to develop the early versions of the prototypes came from the founders themselves.
Though Machi Box has yet to test its robotic kits, Mabanta has big dreams for the startup. “Compared to other countries, the Philippines is way behind in terms of its STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs in schools,” he said. “My dream is that everyone in the country, or maybe even the world, would learn robotics easily without having to invest a lot of money or time.”
In 2016, the World Economic Forum estimated that STEM graduates would be taking over some 5.1 million jobs globally in the next four years, prompting education systems worldwide to prepare for the changing demands of today’s workforce.
Elyssa Christine Lopez is Entrepreneur PH's staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz.