This is a corollary to my article of January 25, 2019, titled, ‘Updates on Nigerian Born Inventors: Celebrating the Invention of Koniku Kore’. That article was a continuation to a five-series article published between the last quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017. The article was titled, “Nigerian Born Investors, their Inventions, Challenges and Opportunities.” My esteemed readers may recall my assertion in the article; “that the list of Nigerian inventors and their inventions are not exhaustive. In a huge country like Nigeria with a deep-rooted diversity and exponential increase in population, invention to survive daily challenges of life is the order of the day. Necessity makes people to think deeply on how to address their problems, constraints and threats against their living conditions. Necessity is the major factor making Nigeria to churn out inventors in multitude”. This necessity created unquantifiable inventors with unquantifiable opportunities to make Nigeria excel in several human endeavours. These opportunities have potentials to make Nigeria great among the comity of nations. However, potential is like a large fertile farm with good soil and uninhibited water; without cultivation, weeds and dangerous reptiles will cover the farm and become dangerous to the owners of the farm.
The scenario of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ plays excellently for Nigerians abroad as they doggedly fight odds to survive and outshine others. It is within this framework that the invention of KONIKU KORE, made by a USA based Nigerian, came to limelight with delight two years ago. The technology is capable of making the seemingly ‘impossible’ possible in the global technological revolution. Koniku Kore is a giant invention of the 21st century, it is a device, which can fuse live neurons from mice stem cells into a silicon chip invented by a USA-based Nigerian, Oshi Agabi. The device is a next generation neuro computing platform that can provide uses in security, military and agriculture. An example would be that a single neuro-chip device could sniff out explosives without even seeing it. The creation of this seemingly synthetic brain is a breakthrough combination of robotics, neuro-biology, computing and bioengineering. Details of this piece can be accessed via https://breakthroughwithmkothman.blogspot.com/2019/03/updates-on-nigerian-born-inventors.html
Back home, ‘the necessity’ has created many inventors over the years. Private and public sectors recorded scores of successes in innovations and inventions of technologies to facilitate development. Among the public sectors are the universities and polytechnics that have laboured to address national developmental challenges. Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, is famously striving in technological advancement despite system and environmental challenges. Recently, students of the university developed a drone using local materials.
A three-man team of final year students of ABU, Zaria, made a drone as their final year project and named it ‘Hope For Chibok Girls’. The drone was tested at the university’s stadium complex and worked perfectly well to the surprise and delight of witnesses. ABU, Zaria, as a citadel of learning and excellence, is relentlessly working and bringing fames to Nigeria through scientific inventions.
Unarguably, ABU is the largest university in sub-Saharan Africa, and the first university to be established in Northern Nigeria in 1962. The university has graduated over one million students from different academic programmes since establishment. The university is indeed one of Nigeria’s finest in the aspect of research, human development and community service. Located in the heart of Zazzau Emirate, 70 km from Kaduna town, ABU, Zaria is by all measures, a household name in intellectual production.
With two major campuses (Samaru and Kongo), over 100 academic departments, housed by 13 faculties and 12 research institutes, a student population of over 50,000 and staff strength of over 5,000, the intellectual dexterity and creativity of ABU, Zaria products is never contested. The two campuses occupy over 7,000 hectares of land for teaching, research and other academic activities. While some universities may have diverted from their core mandates; ABU has, over the years, been pushing hard to achieve her core mission aptly captured: ‘To advance the frontiers of learning and break new grounds, through teaching, research and the dissemination of knowledge of the highest quality.’ Additionally, the university is aimed at fostering national and international integration through the development and promotion of African traditions and cultures; to serve as a model and conscience of the society; and to produce high-level human power and enhance capacity-building through training and retraining, in order to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century.
Today, ABU, Zaria has certainly come a long way in Nigeria and beyond, the university has far become a pacesetter, a trailblazer and frontrunner, which other institutions emulate in knowledge production and advancement. The university has grown to become the most influential and diverse in the country. Current record indicates that almost all the 747 LGAs in the country have sons and daughters either as students or staff or both, studying and working/living in ABU, Zaria in addition to citizens of other countries. This diversity makes ABU unique among the tertiary institution of learning in Nigeria. In fact, the diversity has placed the university on a very strong footing, making it more robust in pursuing its mission while making effective contributions to all spheres of human endeavour.’
Over the years, the university has been assiduously working, despite challenges, to achieve this lofty mission. It has recorded many successes in different areas of human and national development. Time and space may not allow me to x-ray all the breakthroughs made by this giant university in the south of the Sahara. However, the development of the drone by the university’s undergraduate students is one of the modest achievements in the technological strides of the university in recent years.
Drone is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which includes autonomous drones and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs). Drone is capable of controlled, sustained level flight and is powered by a jet, reciprocating, or electric engine. Drone differs from a cruise missile because it is intended to be recovered after its mission, while a cruise missile impacts its target, damaging both the target and itself. A military drone may carry and fire munitions on board, while a cruise missile is simply ammunition for a target.
Drone technology has been in existence since 1849 when Austria attacked Venice using unmanned balloons stuffed with explosives. Over the last 10 decades, drones have undergone a rapid transformation in consumer electronics with advances in technology and wide applications for military operations and the civilian utility. Today, in spite of advances in drone technology, drone manufacturing is limited to developed countries without much contribution from developing countries like Nigeria. However, this is changing as ABU conceived and successfully developed UAV with locally available materials and improvised equipment.
Three students of Physics Department of ABU, Zaria undertook the task of designing and construction of drone using readily available materials. One student was assigned the design and sourcing of the construction materials. Another student was assigned the design and testing of the aerodynamic system of the UAV. The third student took the responsibility of designing electrical system that provided the necessary power to overcome the forces of drag, lift and thrust as well as the ability to manipulate the control system from the surface while the drone is in flight. The combined efforts of the three students produced a most desired result – a perfectly flying done. The ABU drone was tested and worked excellently according to the design.
The drone technology may not be an original invention of ABU, Zaria, nevertheless, the university has to be credited for developing the drone with locally available materials. With more support, equipment and infrastructure, the young scientists, the ABU students who transformed the mere concept of ‘Nigerian drone – Hope For Chibok Girls’ to reality can do much better. The ball is in the court of the Nigerian society.