Sherab Lhamo

In response to the issue of growing e-waste, first year students from Jigme Namgyel Engineering College (JNEC) have turned their e-waste into a robot.

Bhutan generates around 48 tonnes of electronic waste (e-waste) from government agencies alone.

And according to the World Health Organization, in 2019,an estimated 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste were produced globally.

The idea was developed by their mentor, Younten Tshering, the head of the Department of Information and Technology, armed with a Masters in Computer Science with a specialisation in Software Engineering.

“Our college, especially our department, has plenty of computer parts which are unwanted or unrepairable” said Younten Tshering. “Why not repurpose them and turn it into something productive?”

The robots and art made by students using e-waste

While learning about computer hardware, troubleshooting and maintenance in a module, where the students learned to disassemble and assemble the computer parts, Yonten began a challenge of turning e-waste into something using their creativity.

The quest begins

On September 30, their quest to turn e-waste into something creative began.

Younten said that they came up with an idea to build a robot with those unrepairable components because to build a robot, it consumes a great deal of computer components.

Choden, the class representative, said that the idea of building a robot prototype was excellent since it helps build problem solving skills, and enables us to invent and innovate solutions to problems.

The students started assembling desktop components like keyboard, mouse, motherboard, disks, system unit case, wires and cables, and others, from their department’s hardware lab.

Tenzin Nidup said how his team learned to build the robot prototype from YouTube and websites.

“We kept on building with the parts of the computer, with the knowledge we learned from the internet and the finalised prototype starting coming together, to form a robot,” he said.

The experience helped foster teamwork and collaboration for the goal “a sustainable future”, said Younten.

“We wanted to highlight the critical need for responsible e-waste management and underscore our department’s commitment to sustainability,” he added.

The students have also turned e-waste into art, a runner model to beautify their IT building, showing their creativity and commitment to sustainability.

“It’s not just about recycling, it’s about turning discarded materials into something beautiful and meaningful,” said Younten.

Commitment to sustainability

The takeaway from this project is the hands-on experience in robotics, recycling e-waste, and understanding of how robots work on a deeper level, said Tenzin.

For the next phase, in collaboration with the Electronic and Communication department they plan to construct a functional robot using the leftover e-waste in the lab.

The department’s mission is going paperless, helping in sustainability, like the e-wastes projects.

Younten mentioned that project was taken up to do away with e-waste.