Teesside teacher’s invention takes the complexity out of computing

03 April 2020

A techy teacher from Middlesbrough College is launching an invention that will help young people automate everyday household functions. 

Dr Anwar Bashir, who teaches computing at Middlesbrough College, has built a piece of hardware that allows budding robotics engineers to create systems for all sorts of clever functions, such as turning on the lights or boiling a kettle remotely.

Anwar, who also runs a Code Club at Thornaby Library, hopes the device will not only support his students’ learning, but help many more thousands around the world.

He explained: “I’m passionate about inspiring young people with science and technology – and this invention is the result of a brainwave I had while teaching Middlesbrough College students.

“My aim was to strip away the complexities of programming for novices, allowing them to immediately have fun creating systems.”

The device – known as Geko-HAT – works with the Raspberry Pi, a UK-built micro-computer that has taken the educational world by storm by offering a cheap means for students to get to grips with computer science.

Used with the Raspberry Pi, gives learners the ability to play and understand technology known as the “Internet of Things” – the way computers interact with machines and appliances. 

With this technology, learners could build a system that would allow them to turn on their house lights, from their mobile phone. 

Anwar added: “The graphical programming is really accessible and enjoyable. You can switch on and begin creating systems very quickly.

“When students start learning about programming they encounter text-based languages – and this is where they can really get put off. 

“The Geko HAT bridges that gap – helping students make the leap from playing on their phones to actually understanding the wireless technology that makes their phones work.”

Now Anwar is hosting a virtual North East STEM conference, in which he will talk about robots, home automation and smart applications and the launch of his product on Kickstarter.com. 

For those interested, you can join the conference at 2:30pm on Monday, April 6 via the following Zoom link: https://us04web.zoom.us/j/585034914

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, said: “Everyday our students are inspired by Anwar’s passion for his subject – and this creation proves how invested he is in helping more young people share that passion.

“Middlesbrough College is on a mission to show students just how interesting and rewarding a career in digital technology can be. It’s a skillset that now spans so many industries, offering thousands of opportunities.

“Our Digital Skills for Tees Valley campaign is just one part of that and includes regular interactive computing events for 13-16 year-olds, coding clubs and of course a wide range of courses for everyone from school leavers to career changers.”

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