Environmental, Social & Governance

ZS-Robotex partnership empowers students to move full STEAM ahead

By Kailah Peters

June 4, 2024 | Article | 4-minute read

ZS-Robotex partnership empowers students to move full STEAM ahead

In 2023, more than 2,000 ZSers worldwide volunteered 40,500 hours to drive change that matters to causes that align with our environmental, social and governance priorities. Specifically, across communities in India—where many of our ZSers live and work—we partnered with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to deliver healthy, fair and sustainable outcomes for nearly 111,000 beneficiaries. This included partnering with education NGOs to ensure students everywhere have access to quality education.


Seeing an opportunity to encourage knowledge building and inquiry-based learning, ZSers partnered with nonprofit Robotex India to share their skills and expertise to promote science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education in underprivileged schools. Launched in Pune in 2019, the growing initiative provides students with access to interactive learning experiences and real-world problem solving that prepares them for success in today’s rapidly evolving landscape.

Where passion changes lives

“Rural and economically disadvantaged regions of India often lack the infrastructure to effectively support digital learning,” says Anshu Chadha, administrative assistant in ZS’s Delhi office. “This challenge is not solely about funding; it’s about unlocking potential and leveling the playing field for communities that have had less access to the economic, social and technological benefits enjoyed by more affluent areas. This partnership empowers my team and me to make a tangible difference, fostering growth and innovation. Together, we are helping pave the way for future generations to thrive and succeed.”

Anshu helped lead the Robotex initiative with ZSers across India, including Anushka Saratkar, decision analytics associate in Pune; Eashita Jaggi, administrative specialist in Delhi; Narayan Saralaya, office manager in Bengaluru; Hitesh Gowda, decision analytics associate consultant in Pune; Suparna Pachpore, corporate social responsibility coordinator in Pune; and Sheela Shinde, administrative specialist in Bengaluru.


The partnership integrated workshops on coding, AI, machine learning, internet of things and robotics into the curriculum at two schools in Pune and two schools in Delhi. For six hours each week and throughout the academic year, 400 students engaged in hands-on activities to gain technical skills and explore innovative approaches to problem solving. Inspired by the success, the ZS team expanded opportunities to more students in Delhi and Bengaluru. In 2023, the team empowered 1,200 students with access to authentic simulations and connections with experts that strengthen their knowledge, creativity and critical thinking skills.

“The education students receive in schools lays the groundwork for the future they can create for themselves,” says Eashita. “The Robotex workshops give them the chance to develop foundational and technological literacy, analytical agility, teamwork and leadership skills that helps enable them to achieve their potential, improve their socioeconomic situation and contribute to their communities.”


This just touches the surface of the difference ZSers are making in their communities. School attendance improved by 96% from 2021 to 2023, the first year of this initiative, and academics improved by 75%. Inspiring higher participation from girls, the effort has helped build their confidence in STEAM and given them opportunities to see themselves in these disciplines. Students who participated in this program also showcased their projects to world leaders at the 2023 G20 Summit in Pune.

The chance to compete at regional, national and international Robotex competitions offers additional avenues for unleashing imagination. With ZS coaching, more than 500 students from Bengaluru and Delhi joined regional championships in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Indore and Chennai in September 2023; 125 of them went on to share their work at the National Championship in Pune.

“These events truly celebrate the ingenuity and aptitude of the students as creative, global problem solvers. They’re learning programming languages, building robots and developing solutions to pressing issues like waste disposal,” Narayan says. “In the Robotex classroom, each day is a canvas waiting to be painted with pixels of innovation and bytes of excitement. It’s a thrill to see the spark of their curiosity grow into a passion for making the world better.”


That spark ignites a keen dedication. When the train to the national championship was cancelled, the attending students were accompanied by the school chairperson on a 36-hour bus journey. Arriving just in time and without showing any signs of fatigue, the students presented their projects to the juries and qualified for one of the world’s most renowned robotics events, the Robotex International Championship in Tallinn, Estonia.

“We’re so proud of all of our students! The way they come together, work hard and never give up. They’re fearless and inspirational,” adds Sheela. “As professionals, researchers, scientists and innovators, ZSers understand how important it is to explore boundaries, network with industry experts and share knowledge. It’s exciting to help the next generation tap into their resolve to experiment and create a better future for people in India and communities everywhere.”


Read more about the difference ZSers are making in our 2023 India social responsibility report and follow us on social for more on life at ZS.

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