Meshac Ugwuisi, Dominic Machi, Daniel Nwachukwu, Anthony Chika-Umeora. Those may sound like names off a classroom roster, and they may well be. But it’s even better than that.
They are the names of the four Nigerian schoolboys who did the continent proud recently when they took on the rest of the world at this year’s International Festival of Engineering, Science and Technology (I-FEST) competition and held their own.
I-FEST is a 9-day tech festival organized by ATAST, the Tunisian Association for the Future of Science and Technology. It is open to students aged between 14 to 24, parents and professors. The goal is to provide the opportunity for new innovations to be brought into the world of technology. And every year, it attracts contestants from different parts of the globe.
In a competition that drew participation from more than 30 countries including Canada, Italy, South Korea, Turkey, China, Sweden, Ukraine, Brazil, Herzegovina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bosnia, and the host country, Tunisia, the four boys took home the bronze medal having seen their invention land them in third place in a competition that featured more than 250 technology projects.
The four boys are bright students of St. John’s Science and Technical College in Anambra State, South-Eastern Nigeria. And they went into the competition on the backs of two projects borne out of some rigorous coaching, ingenuity on their part, and several hours of extra-curricular work.
By working in tandem and with some supervision from the Manager of the College, Rev. Fr. Francis Unegbu, they put together a project titled: Adaptable Alternative Power Supply for Sub-Saharan Africa – essentially a completely hand-made electric inverter and a solar panel designed to solve the power problems which continue to bedevil Nigeria and many other parts of the continent.
According to the Manager of the College who also ‘chaperoned’ the boys throughout the trip to Tunisia, the fully-packaged solar technology and the noiseless inverter systems were both completely locally-sourced and built manually by the boys.
The device electric inverter with a solar panel is able to absorb energy from the sun, warehouse the energy in the inverter and subsequently distribute it to households and offices where it can serve various purposes.
The boys went into the competition unfazed by the competition served up by the other entrants and confident in their ability to go all the way.
“When we received the invitation to attend the international competition, we were very optimistic that we would win because the students were fully tutored in science and engineering subjects,” says Rev. Fr. Unegbu.
And that confidence may have well paid off as it culminated in a strong finish – some would even say they stole the hearts of many and effectively won the competition with their endearing wit and brilliance even though they were unable to get their hands on the gold.
In any case, their efforts bode well for the continent as it is an indication that the development of innovative technology is well and truly on course in Africa, and there’s a strong feeling that much better days lay ahead.
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