Thursday July 21 2011

High school students build construction model robots

High school students build construction model robots

SMACK students Alvin Kabwama (C) and Nigel Okot ( R) showcase the model crane. PHOTO BY HARRISON DAVIS 

By Walter Wafula & Nicholas Kalungi

Students of Gayaza High School and St. Mary’s College Kisubi have created models of two heavy equipment of importance to the construction and manufacturing industries.

The robots include a heavy load carrier baptised “NXT Robot” developed by Gayaza students and a remote-controlled crane by Kisubi students.

The robots were exhibited at Makerere University last week. The high school students were able to assemble the robots with the support of engineering students of the university.

The creation of the models means that if necessary resources are made available, Uganda has the human resource to assemble and programme such upgraded machines.

Call for resources
The members of the two teams emphasised that if given the real raw material used and time, they can assemble and programme real equipment.

“This is just a small sample of what we can do. If given more time and all required resources, we can come up with a mega robot. That can perhaps be the biggest innovation from Uganda”, Ms Ann Nansanga, a member of the Gayaza team, said.
They faced lack of resources, little time, inaccuracy of sensors, and programming frustrations as some of the challenges during the four-month development.

The robots are some of the several visible fruits of iLabs@Makerere project introduced at the university in 2003. The Internet-based project is under the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology.

The project is currently funded by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US and the Presidential Innovations Fund for the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology at Makerere.

Under the fund, the college is allocated Shs5 billion per annum to facilitate first class research, undergraduate science study plus encouraging innovations and inventions among Ugandans.

The presidential fund was started in 2010 and will run until 2014. Under the same initiative, Makerere engineering students are also assembling the Kiira Electric Vehicle which is scheduled for completion this year.

The car is designed to provide an alternative to the current expensive diesel and petrol cars on Ugandan roads. The first car is expected to be in place by 2015.

Prof. Sandy Tickodri-Togboa, the deputy vice chancellor, Finance and Administration, at Makerere, applauded the two teams for their display of physics discipline.