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Mak Adds Thermal Imaging, 3D Printing to Fight Against COVID-19

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Makerere University under the Department of Agricultural and Bio-Systems Engineering (DABE), College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) on Friday 28th August 2020 unveiled three new additions to help control the spread of COVID-19 in public spaces. The Thermal Imaging for detection of COVID-19 as well as Three-Dimensional (3D) printing of biodegradable face shields and components for the Bulamu Ventilator are all aimed at boosting the contribution of local content to the fight against the pandemic.

The Principal Investigator of the project and Chair, DABE Prof. Noble Banadda while welcoming participants to the unveiling acknowledged the support of Makerere University Health Services led by Prof. Josaphat Byamugisha and the University of Liverpool in helping to develop the Thermal Imaging component.

“Although the hardware already exists in the public domain, our academic contribution has been the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Language (ML) to develop an algorithm that can; unlike the temperature gun, take readings from four places – the throat, mouth, nose and forehead and come up an average temperature” he remarked.

Prof. Banadda shared that over 7,000 images obtained with the help of the University Hospital were used to train the algorithm which can enable the Thermal Imaging to detect people with flu-like symptoms unlike the temperature gun. He noted that researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and partners had trained an algorithm that can identify COVID-19 from a cough and this would be integrated into the Thermal Imaging setup in the future.

He thereafter unveiled the 3D printing aspect with which the project had produced biodegradable face shields and components for the Bulamu Ventilator. “The shield component is made of acetate; a biodegradable polymer of wood and cotton, while the clasp was designed in consultation with a professor of medicine to ensure that it doesn’t form mist and is comfortable to wear.”

The reusable face shield also has antimicrobial properties, is easy to clean and is expected to retail for approximately UGX 5,000. The 3D Printer, said the PI can also be used to print three dimensional organs for disciplines of medicine, building models for architecture and any other programmes that rely on objects for teaching.

The Director of Quality Assurance Dr. Vincent Ssembatya and initiator of the Bulamu Ventilator innovation also made a brief presentation on how 3D printing has greatly aided the project. “Using the 3D printer, we are now able to print eleven components of the pneumatic system.”

In his remarks the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe thanked Prof. Banadda, Dr. Ssembatya and their respective teams for the efforts invested in contributing to the fight against COVID-19. “3D printing gives very accurate dimensions and has brought about a huge revolution in technology.”

The Vice Chancellor recognized the presence of the Chairperson Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) Board of Directors Dr. Jane Mulemwa and Representative of Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) Lt. Gen. Charles Angina and thanked all partners for sparing time to attend the unveiling. “We are operationalizing the Intellectual Property (IP) office and are expecting to build a Science and Technology park where all our disciplines will work together to develop even more innovations.”

Introducing the Special Guest Lt. Gen. Angina, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Dr. Umar Kakumba paid tribute to Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho and OWC for supporting the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Annual Entrepreneurship Expo. “The expo has over the years nurtured a lot of innovations into small businesses where our young people have been gainfully employed as part of small scale industries and contributed to the country’s development.”

In his remarks Lt. Gen. Angina commended the University leadership for the continued innovations that prove that Makerere can be the number one Higher Education Institution on the continent. “By coming up with such innovations, you have been patriotic and contributed to the global call for the fight against COVID-19.”

Lt. Gen. Angina remarked that the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) and other outstanding innovations have paved the way for new ones to follow in their footsteps. “With the manufacture of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in Uganda we will be able to have a double score on cars that can be powered by petroleum products and electricity.”

The Deputy Chief Coordinator OWC tasked the Bulamu Ventilator innovators to quickly secure approval for the essential device and produce as many as possible so as to meet the demand not only in Uganda, but the rest of the Africa. He equally tasked the Thermal Imaging team to expand their scope to night vision devices so as to enhance the nocturnal operations of security agencies.

He concluded his remarks by appreciating the President and Commander in Chief of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces, H.E. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for his leadership that recognizes the contribution of the academia, research and innovations to national development.


Article by Public Relations Office

Engineering, Art & Tech

MAPRONANO Short Course in AI, ML & Bioinformatics

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Some of the students that took part in the Inaugural Intel AI Academy Workshop on Machine Learning and Deep Learning Fundamentals pose for a photo on 22nd November 2019, CEDAT, Makerere University.

The African Center of Excellence in Materials Product Development & Nanotechnology (MAPRONANO ACE), College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University in partnership with the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)’s African Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Data Sciences (ACE), Tel Aviv University, Israel, the Colleges of Health Sciences (CHS) and Computing and Information Sciences (CoCIS) and Teesside University, UK invites applications for the Short Course Training in Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and Bioinformatics.

The course will be run virtually from 4th to 7th October 2021

Please submit all applications to: ace[at]idi.co.ug, mapronanocedatmak[at]gmail.com, bmujuni7[at]gmail.com including a One Page motivation statement indicating why you are interested in attending by 27th September 2021

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Call for Scholarship Application: CAMA Post-grad Research Assistantship at CEDAT

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The Main Entrance of the New Building, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. Date taken: 8th July 2014.

The Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HKA) Germany, Makerere University, University of Nairobi (UoN) and Mekelle University (MU) Ethiopia have started a 4 year R&D project “Collaboration for Active Mobility in Africa-CAMA” under the program “Partnerships for sustainable solutions in sub-Sahara Africa“. The Project which is being funded by both the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), aims to better capture the requirements of the pedestrians and cyclists and to illustrate their needs using digital surveys and crowd mapping approaches.

To facilitate the development and uptake of tailor-made solutions to promote active mobility, the project will utilise learning alliances (bringing together researchers, community representatives, decision makers and experts from the field) to prepare real-life experiments (living labs) and test innovative solutions. To achieve the aforementioned objective, the project intends to utilize some of the resources to recruit a PhD Student who will double as project admin for the project.

In this regard, the CAMA Uganda project is pleased to invite Ugandans to make applications for a the Post Graduate Research Assistantship Position at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT), Makerere University. Under this program you will be required to register as a PhD. Student at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (focusing on Non Motorised Traffic), which is subject to meeting the admission requirements of Makerere University. You will also be required to undertake Administration and Research project support.

The deadline for application is 8th September 2021.

How to Apply

Interested candidates can submit the following (i) up-to-date curriculum vitae/resume (of no more than 3 pages) in pdf (ii) supporting testimonials (iii) a one-page letter outlining their interest and motivation while highlighting a potential challenge in Non Motorised Traffic.

By email to camauganda[at]gmail.com and copied to civil[at]cedat.mak.ac.ug

Only applicants who meet the minimum requirements will be notified.

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Minister Monica Musenero Unveils Locally-made Diesel Engine

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Hon. Dr. Monica Musenero (3rd L) with the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe (2nd L), Principal CEDAT-Prof. Henry Alinaitwe (4th L), college leadership, MAPRONANO’s Prof. John Baptist Kirabira (7th L), Kiira Motors’ Mr. Paul Isaac Musasizi (R), Kevoton Motions Engineering Team (in white) and other officials at the launch on 19th August 2021, Freedom Square, Makerere University.

By Betty Kyakuwa

It was a show of innovations geared towards mechanisation of farming processes as the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovations, Dr. Monica Musenero, launched locally made engines today August 19, 2021.

A team of researchers from the African Centre of Excellence for Material science and nanotechnology (MAPRONANO) partnered with artisans from Kevoton Engineering, to design and assemble a diesel engine, the first of its kind in Uganda.

It is a single cylinder 4 stroke engine  with 13 horse power and consumes 1 litre of fuel per hour. The engine is a water-cooled and therefore does not heat up.

The engines are able to run a generator and a water pump to facilitate irrigation on farms. The generator, is single phase and can therefore be used to power home appliances and small workshops.

According to Mr. Mubiru Rogers of Kevoton Engineering, work on the engines started in 2017, but they were not able to make much progress until 2019 when they partnered with MAPRONANO ACE. The centre of excellence was then able provide training and technical advice, designing and student attachments to the project.

The Minister commended the MAPRONANO team, led by Prof. John Baptist Kirabira, for various innovations that the team in churning out, which included a sanitizer made in Makerere, solar panel slasher, and a mini tractor. 

Dr. Musenero challenged researchers to have a mindset change and also change the pedagogy to reposition theory to practical works. “We need to teach the students knowing that they are going to design and develop an engine or a brake system,” Dr. Musenero emphasised.  She encouraged innovators to ensure their products do not stay on the selves, saying the biggest role of science and innovation is economical.  The Minister said, for this reason, PRESIDE which she chairs focused on equipping laboratories in universities so as ensure that scientists receive the facilitation that they require. “Research is like a river which needs an outflow and the Ministry is here to provide that outflow,” she said.

She advised the university to prioritise certain areas of research when it comes to grants instead of awarding small grants to different projects which only end up being a drop in the ocean. Dr. Musenero thanked the President for his continued support and belief in science and technology.

The minister advised that the prototypes be refined so that they are genderised to allow women to be able to operate the generator and water pump.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, called on the minister to support the introduction of an innovation park in Makerere University, saying the park would be able to spinoff companies. Giving an example of Instabul University, the Vice Chancellor said the university has been able to produce 300 companies over the last one year, saying Makerere University should be supported to do the same.  

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