MUST students to design E-application to ease Master’s Research   

Award winners pose for a photo with the Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Principal and the judges. Photo/Courtesy

What you need to know:

This follows an alarm caused by the increasing number of Master’s students dropping out before completing their studies

Five students from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) are set to invent an electronic supervision mobile application to expedite time spent on Master's student research.

This follows an alarm caused by the increasing number of Master’s students dropping out before completing their studies.

The innovators include Augustine Beilel, Barbra Kyasiimire, Vicent Abeinemukama, Ambrose Turyamuhaki, and Joseph Mukiibi.

The innovative idea was derived from the ICT-4MRPQ Hackathon project competitions on Saturday (August 26, 2023) at Makerere University Business School (MUBS), where these students emerged victorious with the best idea of inventing a mobile application dubbed the Scholar track.

While demonstrating how the application operates, Beilel, the Scholar Track team leader said, that the electronic supervision application is designed to enhance research and create convenience through real-time progress monitoring, reminders, notifications, and customized milestones hence leading to a more focused and efficient master’s journey.

“We integrated video calls, audio calls, and text-based chats and all these chats are saved for future reference. Video calls will create a virtual presence of the student and the supervisor." He noted.

Plagiarism which is a big blow to the success of most of the students will also be detected the moment one tries to submit the content that was previously used.

He added that the beauty of the app is that it will also favour persons with disabilities, for those who cannot see but can hear, the team came up with a feature of the text-speech model that converts words into sound. And also for screen readers who cannot hear but can see.

Mr. Beilel further explained that students will no longer need to meet their supervisors physically as the case before but rather it will now become just a clique of a button. “They will be able to interact with their supervisors from the time of submitting the topic of research to their final reports.” He added.

The highly secure app will need the user to have registered with the university to get credentials to use while logging in to this app.

“The information in the database of the institution is what will be needed to log in. And when you submit your login details for checking such that you can navigate through and verify whether you are the owner, we shall send a one-time login password to your email, to verify whether the person trying to log in is the owner of the email,’ he explained.

The scholar track team emerged champions walking away with shs4 million and a grant sponsored by the European Union to implement their project, beating their other three counterparts from Makerere University and MUBS.

Prof David Katamba, one of the judges in these competitions said, that in two weeks, the winners will sign an agreement indicating the amount of money needed to implement the whole project.

Prof. Moses Muhwezi, the Makerere University Business School Principal said, out of all the students who register for Masters at Makerere University, at least 30 percent fail to complete their Master’s Degrees, which insinuated a need for an electronic mobile application to replace manual research.

“One of the challenges we have is completion time for Masters. Many students are unable to finish their studies in the two-year mandatory duration because of delays in completing their research projects. We want to embrace ICT usage in Master's research such that Master’s students can graduate on time.” he said. 

According to the innovators, the current ICT trends need you to innovate something that is not going to labour the end user a lot and they are going to overcome this, by integrating artificial intelligence.

“Most of the components in this application are going to be handled by artificial intelligence in a way that processes are automated. Instead of supervisors comparing students’ reports to find out who plagiarized, and spending time in workshops explaining to students the new policy by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE), we want the app to make notifications to students about those changes that have been made so that they can prepare accordingly for successful research.” Ms. Kyasiimire added.

This is going to act as a sister application to the already existing e-web portal system for monitoring and tracking the research journey for master students.

Because of the issue of poor network connections in some parts of Uganda, the innovators said the app will be both offline and online. “We understand the challenge of having an entirely online-based system. We want to make this app such that when someone is not online, some features can be accessible to them.”

The application is to be designed in a sense that heavy files of all types can be compressed before being uploaded and the expected weight of the files will range from 15-20 megabytes.