Mak Students Make Computer that Uses Phone Power Bank Top story

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In short
According to the students, their computer can run on a power bank, which charges mobile phones. A desktop computers uses between 60 and 250 watts of power and a laptop uses between 15 to 45 watts.

Five Mechanical Engineering students from Makerere University have developed a computer that uses 5 watts of electricity. They are Ivan Karugaba, Brian Emmanuel Etwalu, Oscar Amanyire and Twesigye Aineamani. 

The group worked under the supervision of Dr. Nobert Mukasa, a lecturer of mechanical Engineering and Prof. John Baptist Kirabira, a material science and management specialist. According to the students, their computer can run on a phone power bank.

A desktop computers uses between 60 and 250 watts of power and a laptop uses between 15 to 45 watts. Produced on September 26th, 2016 as the first prototypes of the product, the computer was exhibited at the 6th annual open day at the College of Engineering Design art and Technology in October. 

Karugaba explains that they mounted research in embedded systems, which led to the development of their product.

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According to Karugaba, the device has 1GB RAM storage, quad Core CPU and 32GB internal storage capacity. They expect to sell the computer at Shillings 350,000 once it is launched on the market by February 2017. Karugaba and his group say they want to ensure that at least every Ugandan acquires a computer.

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The computer can be connected to any display apparatus such as projectors and Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) Television sets. Once it's finally produced, Karugaba says that this computer will be able to instantly turn any TV into a smart TV.
Karugaba and colleagues registered their innovation and incorporated it in Uganda this year as Microfuse computer technologies with the sole aim of designing reliable and affordable digital consumer electronics for the East African market. He says the project currently employs about 14 youths including engineers among others.

They hope to increase penetration of ICT to rural areas and improve the research and knowledge base on electronics manufacture in Uganda and East Africa. Dr. Norbert Mukasa, a lecturer of mechanical Engineering, hailed the students for having researched further to come up with such a product. 

"I taught Karugaba and others a component of Control Systems Engineering in their third year. I think he did this for his final year project," Dr. Mukasa told URN in a phone interview.
Adding that; "the degree we give here is basic. We teach students only principles if you look at our education system. That student has done a lot of programming which is commendable. I think we can actually put up better products together with computer technology and engineering among others."
In 2012, the government of Uganda introduced compulsory Sub-Mathematics and ICT subsidiary subjects for all A 'level students. Under the current arrangement, students with the Economics option in their subject combinations where Mathematics is not a principal subject are required to offer Sub Mathematics as the second subsidiary subject while students with arts combinations without Economics have to choose between computer studies and Sub-Math.

Students with Mathematics as a principal subject are required to offer computer studies as the second subsidiary in addition to general paper while students with science-based combinations where math is offered as a principal subject are required to offer sub math as a second subject in addition to general paper.

Available statistics indicate that at Advanced Level in rural schools, only about 10% of the population has access to electricity, and in rural areas, it is less than 5%. So 5% of the rural 32,681,240 people have access to electricity. This poses a very big challenge for students in rural schools to make their subject choices partly because they have never seen what a computer really is or they cannot get a chance to use them because of lack of electricity.   


About the author

Davidson Ndyabahika
Davidson Ndyabahika is a Journalism major from Makerere University and is passionate about investigative and data journalism with special interest in feature story telling.

He has gone through digital and multi-media training both at Ultimate Multimedia Consult, and has attended Data Journalism Sessions at ACME to enrich his capacity in data journalism.

Davidson has previously freelanced with The Campus Times, The Observer, Chimp reports and URN. He is currently reporting under Education. He is also passionate about reporting on environment, health, crime and political satire writing.

Follow him on Twitter: @dndyaba