The IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society Brac University Student Branch Chapter organized an event titled “Commemorating 5 Years of Brac Onnesha & Reminiscing BracU Dichari” to commemorate Brac University’s significant achievements. Respected academics from both the Computer Science and Engineering and Electrical and Electronic Engineering departments of Brac University were present to share their experiences with Brac Onnesha and Team BRACU Dichari, and conveyed their insights for the future. 

In the first segment of the event, the team members of the newest flagship project developed by the undergraduate students of Brac University, BRACU Dichari, shared their journey on becoming the first Bangladeshi team to qualify for one of the most prominent robotics competitions in the world, The European Robotics League. Despite facing many challenges, they made constant progress in the tournament, which earned them a special award, the “Perseverance Award,” and the 4th position in the “ERL Emergency Local Tournament,” which took place from June 20 to June 25, in Poznan, Poland.  

The competition was co-organized by the European Space Foundation, the Advanced Center for Aerospace Technologies (CATEC), and the Poznan University of Technology (PUT). Assignments of the tournament center on creating robots that can assist in rescue operations. With the guidance from the team’s advisor Mr. Abdulla Hil Kafi, Research Associate, LaSSET, (Laboratory Space Systems Engineering & Technology), School of Engineering and Co-Advisor Associate Professor Dr. Md Khalilur Rhaman, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Brac University, Advisor, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Brac University Student Branch Chapter, Team Dichari developed an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) along with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Some of the key functionalities of the rover and the drone include Autonomous Navigation, Object Detection and Avoidance, simultaneous Localization and Mapping, Emergency response and pick and drop feature.

The teams shared how participating in this international competition, they got the chance to learn about many new state-of-the-art technologies and equipment and compare their relative positions in the field of robotics at an international level. When asked about any advice they would like to give to their juniors or anyone interested in the field of robotics, they mentioned, “Always keep a learning mindset rather than a competing mindset. Don’t get overwhelmed with a huge workload, rather divide it into smaller chunks, maintain gantt charts and respect everyone’s opinion for effective team and project management. ” 

In the later part of the event, Raihana Shams Islam Antara, Research Associate at LaSSET, Brac University, highlighted the process of creating the first nanosatellite and the significance of Brac University in furthering this research in our country. She was an engineer in the Brac Onnesha Satellite, the first nanosatellite from Bangladesh designed and constructed in 2017. On February 8, 2017, Brac University became the first Bangladeshi educational institution to get its very own nano satellite, developed and assembled by three of its students – Abdulla Hil Kafi, Raihana Shams Islam Antara, and Maisun Ibn Monowar.  On July 7, 2017, SpaceX successfully launched the nanosatellite on board its Falcon 9 rocket on CRS-11 mission to the  International Space Station. The satellite was designed and constructed in collaboration with the Kyushu Institute of Technology Birds-1 program and it included the collaboration of five countries. For the successful launch of Brac Onnesha in 2017, we also earned the ACI award and the “Airbus Diversity Award,” one of the most prestigious distinctions in the engineering field.

Her speech continued to the next stage of CubeSats. CubeSat (Cubic Size Satellite) allows us to lower both the overall cost and the quantity of space required. LaSSET was constructed at Brac University to pursue research on space systems and satellites which is also coupled as the ground station for the Brac Onnesha satellite. Brac Onnesha has six personnel on the ground station team and three on the satellite team. After the launch of the satellite, LaSSET concentrated on satellite research on the following four segments: (i) application-driven (ii) capacitive construction (iii) technical infrastructure (iv) socioeconomic security. Currently, the majority of the study focuses on the capacitive building component. The primary objective is to establish a functional space-related organization in Bangladesh which will be able to conduct independent research. In 2018, LaSSET conducted CanSat workshops on the basics of satellite knowledge at many private and public institutions, including Jahangirnagar University, North-South University, and Dhaka University. It is expected that fresh graduates will find employment in this sector. It is also planned to offer these workshops at high schools as soon as possible. In 2019, for the first time, the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society Brac University Student Branch Chapter hosted an international satellite workshop with the participation of students from 29 nations. In addition, LaSSET has initiated the development of a satellite training kit that will be used to show the capabilities of a real satellite. 

Dr. Arshad Chowdhury, Dean of the School of Engineering, then extended congratulations to the team Dichari for their outstanding achievement. He said, “Behind every great film comes a tale of suffering and tenacity. Therefore, we must study how this triumph was achieved with such hardship and forbearance.”  Along with him, Dr. Mosadeqque Rahman, Chairperson and Professor, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, urged students to engage more in extracurricular activities and use their engineering knowledge in the real world.

Dr. David Dowland, the Registrar, Brac University, subsequently lauded the “Dichari” team. He was ecstatic to learn that they received an award for persistence. In addition, Professor A.K.M Abdul Malek Azad, Ph.D, Counselor of the IEEE Brac University Student Branch, provided his insightful commentary on this accomplishment. Subsequently, he underlined the importance of writing research papers and journal articles about the ongoing projects. “We need tiny bonfires working together to create a large one,” he said. Later,  Dr. Md. Khalilur Rahman sent his heartfelt greetings to the team.  He said, “I want more devices with intelligent sensors that can think like the human brain.”

Lastly, there was a discussion sessions with the attendees and thus a vibrant event came to a conclusion.