Today we got to attend a preliminary competition of the National Engineering Students Awards Competition (NESAC) at Harare Institute of Technology (HIT). NESAC aims to promote practical engineering solutions that further national development from engineering students.
Other universities like National University of Technology, Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) and University Zimbabwe (UZ) also partcipate in NESAC and hold their own preliminary competitions. At each individual university, 12 final year engineering students are selected present their projects.
Each student gets to choose whether they want to do an oral presentation of their work or have a poster presentation. So today we got to listen to 6 of the students presenting their projects and then we went around the room looking at the other 6 that were poster presentations.
The winners for the HIT preliminary competition were:
For oral presentations: 1. Christine Juta 2. Tariro Musarurwa
For poster presentations: 1. Kudakwashe Pasurayi 2. Tonderai Kadengwa
These are the people who will then join the other winners from the other universities for the next stage in NESAC.
The projects that the HIT engineering students presented are as follows and the descriptions are from what are I understood about them.
Single Phase smart meter system – Evidence Mandizvidza (Electronic Engineering)
It seems that the system is more beneficial to ZESA at this stage because it has anti-tamper software and uses artificial neural networks to pinpoint where electricity theft will be happening. It still needs further development to add features that smart homes have that will directly benefit the home owner.
Production of 24 TPD of Lithium Carbonate from Spodumene and Petalite Concentrate – Irene Ngwenje (Chemical and Process Systems Engineering)
The presenter mentioned that we are currently exporting Spodumene and Petalite. Instead of just exporting those two which contain low concentration of Lithium, she decided to use a new a concept of combining the two to make Lithium Carbonate which is more pure and has a higher concentrate. This means instead of earning $180 per tonne, the industry will now get $6000 per tonne using the new process.
Development of an electronic navigation system for blind people – Tamuka Muchena (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering)
This is a wearable device in the form of a jacket that aims to help visually impaired people navigate the world through speech guidance and environment detection from sensors. At the moment, the device will not be easily accessible to the majority as it is approximated to cost $1400 (USD). Maybe it could be enhanced for another use area like the military that might have the funding.
Development of a test rig for automated driving test track – Christine Juta (Electronic Engineering)
System aims to remove corruption from the VID by making the drivers test automated. So instead of trying to make a car fit between drums, you’ll be trying not to trip a laser beam that marks the box. From what I know, it seems that most of the corruption happens when the test arrives to the stage of the road test not while in the VID space doing the critical stuff. This leaves me wondering whether it is solving a corruption problem for real or not as some have even said that if you bribe a VID inspector, they cannot help you if you fail within the the VID (doing parallel parking, hill start etc).
Design of a Plant to Recover Gold from tailings – Tariro Musarurwa (Chemical and Process Systems Engineering)
Many gold mining plants through away waste after extracting gold (tailings) and this design aims to process that waste and recover some gold from it. You’d wonder why mines aren’t already doing this, it’s because it is expensive so he has found a way to do it at a much cheaper cost and is currently patenting it.
Design optimization of a paint mixing machine using RGB colour matching – Dale Gwenzi (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering)
Aims to help businesses like automotive body repair shops by providing a machine that makes paint that is specific to their needs and is also cheaper than buying traditional paint.
IOT Based physical condition monitoring system for telecommunications datacenters – John Chitsaka (Electronic Engineering)
Uses wireless sensors placed in 3 locations of a data center to obtain environment reading like temperature, humidity and gas leaks. These information can then be viewed in a graphical format by system administrators from different devices like phones or tablets. It allows for easy management of data center environments as the readings are refreshed every minute and it also allows damage prevention for example if fuel leak is detected.
Embedded laptop tracker device with GPS locator and anti-temper facility – Innocent Mafusire (Electronic Engineering)
A tracking device that provides location information to the owner via SMS. There’s not much for me to say as we have seen different tracking systems already.
Design optimization of wet grain drying system – Kudakwashe Pasurayi (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering)
The system uses temperature and moisture sensors to reduce food contamination and drying time by providing a 70% efficient and effective way to dry wet grain from brewers.
Design of an Intelligent gemstone shape prediction system – Praise Sinamawiri (Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering)
Optimizes the shape of a gem after cutting and polishing for maximum yields. It’s unclear to me how much impact the system can have but it could potentially help gem cutting and polishing experts work more efficiently by reducing loss in weight during those processes.
Design of 120 M3/HR water treatment plant using bone char bio-absorption technology for water de-fluoridation – Kadengwa Tonderai (Chemical and Process Systems Engineering)
Zimbabwe has high levels of fluoride in ground water and the designed plant aims to purify the water through bone char bio-absorption. The stated needed investment is $880 000 which would be paid back in 4.2 years with a return of 24.7%. I’m not an economist but if it is economically feasible then it’d be a good addition to society as it allows people in areas like Nembudziya to access clean water.
Design of a coal to urea gasification plant for the production of 450 TPD urea – Mhandu Desire (Chemical and Process Systems Engineering)
The project aimed to test the technical and economically feasiblity of setting up a coal to urea plant in Zimbabwe. The practice of getting urea from coal has been done in other countries for a long time now to reduce fuel imports.