Sometimes, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. That’s the case with 8-year-old Omkar Govil-Nair, whose mom, Shubha Govil, is a senior manager of products for the Cisco Collaboration Technology Group. Technology and tinkering with invention is something that the two of them share.
“Omkar was always interested in technology,” Shubha says. “He always wanted to see how things work and was coming up with new ideas. So for us as parents, it was about providing him support to make things happen.”
Omkar’s interests, however, were bigger than just learning about tech. As a fan of shows like MythBusters and Shark Tank, he became interested in building his own tech two years ago when he came across another young person’s project (then 12-year old-entrepreneur Quin Etnyre). Omkar had been attending Maker Faire since he was 4 (where he got to meet Etnyre) and got to see a lot of DIY technology and projects in action.
He wanted to take it further, and started learning Arduino (an open-source platform) from his dad.
He started with small projects and was so thrilled with the power of an open source platform like this that he wanted to share his projects with other kids and teach them how to make their own Arduino projects. This was the beginning of an idea that Shubha bought to Cisco by creating a program called DevNet Kids to teach Arduino programming and other such STEAM workshops (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) to the children of other Cisco employees.
Susie Wee, VP, CTO Networking Experiences helped Shubha further these efforts by sponsoring the Arduino UNO kits needed for the DevNet workshops. Now, Omkar, Shubha and her husband Subhash host DevNet Kids workshops for about 20 kids once a month for Cisco employee families, and these classes are usually filled to capacity. Omkar also makes sure that the parents don’t do any of the work.
“Omkar’s guidance to parents in the workshop is to let the kids learn by trying and not jump in to help them out with the project,” Shubha says. “Him bringing this perspective is really important to make DevNet kids workshops a fun experience for the kids.”
Omkar and Shubha didn’t stop there. They wanted to get other kids involved so badly that the Govil-Nair family is now a group of entrepreneurs. Omkar’s site, www.IOT4KIDS.com is full of how-to code and projects, and he just this summer launched a kickstarter campaign where he created his OWN Arduino-compatible smart watch DIY kit for kids to get started with hands-on programming and 3D printing. Oh, and did we mention it was fully funded in 1 week?
“It’s like a night job now for my husband and I,” Shubha says. “It’s amazing to see how excited people are, and I’m excited to have Cisco be a part of it.”
Omkar’s OWatch kit was a featured Maker project at the World Maker Faire in New York, and Omkar was also invited to speak at the Re: Make Conference both in September. He’s got partners already lined up to help bring his OWatch kit to more kids, and has captured the attention of some pretty fantastic tech leaders.
President of TinyCircuits Ken Burns called Omkar “the smartest 8-year-old” he’s ever met, and that he’ll have a “Great impact on teaching kids about science and engineering.”
We think that Omkar is going to be an innovation powerhouse, and we can’t wait what tech solutions he’ll bring to the world. We just hope he continues to partner with Cisco when he does it, so we can be a part of history with him!
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