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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

Sir Edward Muteesa II Museum opened at Makerere University.

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Sir Edward Muteesa II Museum was officially opened, Wednesday 21st February 2024 at a ceremony presided over by Her Royal Highness, Nnalinnya Agnes Nabaloga on behalf of the Kabaka of Buganda, His Royal Highness Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II.

The Museum located at plot 95, quarry road Makerere University is housed in the premises of what was an on-campus private residence of Sir Edward Muteesa II while a student of literature at Makerere University from 1943-1945.

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UNU-FLORES seeks collaboration with CEDAT

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The College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology, (CEDAT) hosted Christian P. Schneider, a PhD researcher and Focal Point for African partnerships from UN-FLORES.  During a meeting held in the College Boardroom on Monday 12th February 2024 involving members of staff, the discussions focused on finding areas of collaboration between the college and UN-FLORES, which is the academic arm of the UN.

Christian P. Schneider said UNU-FLORES which is United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and Resources focuses on addressing critical global challenges related to human survival, development, and welfare through collaborative research and education.

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Translating Luganda Text into speech, An Innovation at CEDAT

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Researchers at the College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) using Artificial Intelligence have come up with an innovation to aid translation of Luganda language written text into speech.

A team of researchers led by the Principal Investigator Dr. Ronald Kizito from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department undertook a study they called, ‘A Luganda Neural Text-To-Speech System for Health Promotion and Accessibility for Health Promotion and Accessibility’.

The study supported by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovation Fund (MAKRIF) was aimed at coming up with an innovation that will help the dissemination of health messages to a wide Luganda-speaking audience who may not be in a position to read written text, which is usually the mode used in sending out information through literature like fliers.

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