Science & Technology

Innovative giant strides of varsities in South West — NAN survey

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Many Nigerian universities in the South West zone are in healthy competition to

initiate innovative projects that will impact positively on the institutions and their host communities, a survey

by Nigeria News Agency revealed.

The Centre for Research and Development (CERAD) at Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA) and Real

Margue Company Nigeria Limited, owners of BSB Bakery, for example, have started producing Turmeric and Ginger bread.

According to Prof. Joseph Fuwape, Vice Chancellor of the university, the bread production

goes through “special secret formula’’ developed by FUTA researchers and patented by CERAD.

Fuwape, who disclosed this to NAN in Akure, described the bread production as a success story and a plus for university-industry linkage.

He said that more people would enjoy the health benefits of Turmeric and Ginger in the form they have been presented.

The vice-chancellor added that the Centre for Renewable Energy Technology (CRET) of FUTA has also developed solar-powered

generators (FUTA Solar Box 1 and FUTA Solar Box 2).

He explained that the generators were the institution’s efforts in improving renewable energy to de-emphasise dependence on the

national grid.

According to him, the generators, which are of various capacities, whose components include Lithium Polymer Battery, Inverter, Change

Controller, Socket Outlet, Fuse and Switches, can power television sets, fans and a number of bulbs for a minimum of five hours simultaneously.

Fuwape commended the CRET team for the “ingenuity in developing such solar boxes at a time when Nigerians are groaning under erratic

power supply.

“The Centre for Renewable Energy Technology is housed in a building which is not linked to public electricity supply.

“It generates its own power through a combination of solar panels designed and developed by researchers in FUTA.

“The building also maintains an all-day long and year-round cool temperature due to choice of materials used.’’

The vice-chancellor also disclosed that two students of the university have developed an application that could give notification about electricity

availability in locations covered by the app.

The application, tagged UpNepa Nigeria, enables one to know when and where electricity is available.

Salaudeen Taslim, a 500 level student of Remote Sensing and Geoscience Information System and Salaudeen AbdulRaham, a 300 level

student of Computer Engineering, also spoke with NAN on the app.

They said the idea to develop the app was borne out of interest and personal development.

They said the inspiration to develop the app was due to frustration experienced by students, who always look around the campus for power

supply for academic purpose and to charge their devices.

NAN also learnt that FUTA has begun the process of extending the cultivation of new variant of tomatoes it developed to the larger society.

The vice chancellor said “FUTA, through its School of Agriculture and Agricultural Technology (SAAT) recently organised a Practical Field

Training for selected farmers and agroprenurs on Greenhouse production of the Eva F1 tomatoes and other vegetables at the Teaching and

Research Farm of the institution.

“Eva F1 Tomato is a variety five times bigger in size than the commonly available one in the Nigerian market and it is capable of producing

paste more than four times the latter.

“The tomato has rare quality of remaining fresh over a period of two weeks from date of harvest.’’

Fuwape also said that FUTA recently inaugurated a new Phytomedicine Garden, explaining that

through the project, the university took a leap forward in the process that would lead to revitalising and modernising the herbs industry for

local use and for export.

He said “it is important for people to begin to look inward and take advantage of nature’s endowment, which is in abundance in our environment.’’

University of Ilorin (UniLorin) on its part, says it invented bullet-proof gadgets that has been tested and approved by Nigerian Army.

Its Spokesman, Kunle Akogun, told NAN that the institution had already signed a Memorandum

of Understanding (MoU) with Nigerian Army to mass produce the gadget.

Akogun also said that some lecturers and staff of the institution had also invented a computerised automobile speed limiter.

He noted that the speed limiter, if produced in commercial quantity, would reduce accidents on the road, as it had been tested and found to be

effective.

“The gadget works, using computer programming. So, failure rate, to be modest, is extremely low, if not completely impossible, and reliability

rate is high,” he said.

The spokesman also said that Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering of UniLorin

had also designed a prototype anti-theft device, capable of remotely monitoring and detecting theft of electricity by customers.

The device, he explained, was designed by acting Head of Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Dr Mudathir Akorede, with

assistance by some students.

Akorede then told NAN that the device could also cut off electricity supply to the premises of customers stealing electricity.

He said “the device can simultaneously send a message to the utility control room to alert the system operator with such customer’s details

displayed on the control panel.’’

He added that the process of filing application for patenting the invention had commenced through the university’s Laboratory to

Product Centre.

The don further said that the invention was now up to standard that it could be patented, noting that “I brought this to the attention of the

Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, although not officially, but if adopted, the device would enable distribution companies to cut their

commercial losses substantially.’’

He said that the idea followed the discovery that most people used electricity without paying for it.

He added that “many people that have been able to get the prepaid meter, even though they can afford to pay their bills, still want to bypass this to

steal electricity and this is not helping the companies.

“It is not helping us as a whole. If the industry should collapse, everybody will bear the brunt of that problem and that is why consumers too

have to share out of the problem.’’

Another lecturer in the Department of Microbiology, UniLorin, Ajijolakewu Kamoldeen, also designed a refrigerator with the capacity to freeze

any liquid in three minutes.

NAN reports that the refrigerator is more powerful than conventional refrigerators.

It works at 45 degree centigrade, while the conventional ones work between the range of 10 degree centigrade and 20 degree centigrade.

Dr Dupe Ademola-Popoola, an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the College of Health Sciences at the university, had also developed

a device that could detect sight challenges in children.

The don had been granted patent on the device called “Teacher Led Vision Screener’’.

The device, NAN learnt, could be used by non-professionals, particularly teachers, to detect sight inadequacies.

NAN also learnt that UniLorin has over 25 patents on various inventions carried out by lecturers and students of the institution.

On its part, University of Ibadan also recently inaugurated its Renewable Resources Centre which generates Biogas through waste.

Mr Tunji Oladejo, the institution’s Director of Communication, said other energy projects at the centre include the Smokeless Charcoal, using

wood charcoal Kiln.

According to him, the research that culminated into the renewable energy projects adopted  multidisciplinary approach.

He said the renewable energy project was conceptualised by Prof. M.K.C Sridhar and Dr Taiwo Hammed of Department of Environmental

Sciences and College of Medicine respectively.

Oladejo said “the project has to do with scaling up laboratory-based research in that department into viable commercial ventures for the benefit

of the society. It was funded by Tertiary Education Fund (TETFund).

“The project has to do with making use of waste to generate biogas through technological process which can be used for domestic and

commercial purposes.

“It involves the combination of Chinese and Nigerian technology. It is a solution to irregular power supply in Nigeria as individuals can

deploy the technology once it is internalised.

“It is cheaper on the long run and we want almost everyone to be able to acquire this knowledge.

UI has enough waste to generate its electricity through biogas. We need investors to come in and scale it up to commercial ventures.

“The flame of the smokeless charcoal is blue. It can be used by people who have health challenges, unlike the charcoal we are all used to.

Also, the project includes fertilizer production and mushroom cultivation.”

Prof. Olanike Adeyemo, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research, Innovation and Strategic Partnerships at the university, said some of the

innovations at the institution include University of Ibadan International Transmission Project designed to transmit educational activities of the university.

The initiative is under the aegis of Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) and University of Ibadan Media Centre.

“The first demo has been made, starting with Faculty of Law,” the don said.

Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB) says one of its major innovations is its “First Improved Indigenous Chicken Breed” named “FUNAAB Alpha.”

The Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the school, Mrs Linda Onwuka, told NAN that the feat was achieved after 24 years of research.

It was, however, registered in July 2018 by National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB).

She said that the breakthrough would positively affect the common man and the nation in the poultry market and boost food production in the country.

She added that “we remain the first and only university to have produced the improved indigenous chicken.

FUNAAB has successfully placed on the Nigerian poultry market, a dual purpose breed of chicken, tested under rural households from

September 2016 to December 2017.

“The breed was found to be one of the breeds preferred for egg production under semi-scavenging and scavenging conditions.

“The dual purpose FUNAAB Alpha attains 2.1 to 2.6kg at 20 weeks for males; 1.6 to 1.8kg for females, while eggs are improved from white to brown

from 60 to 120 eggs per annum to 200 to 250 eggs per annum,’’ she said.

She said that the team of scientists led by Prof. Olufunmilayo Adebambo, worked on the project for 24 years.

Onwuka also disclosed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation was the major partners who funded the establishment of the Pearl-FUNAAB

Chicken Breeding Centre of the University for the Project in 2014.

Also, Prof. Chinedum Babalola, the Vice Chancellor, Chrisland University, Ajebo, Abeokuta, told NAN that the institution used the mixture of

natural products and some chemicals to design what it called “Biochemical Weapon for Destroying Termites.’’

She explained that the chemical, when sprayed to affected area, could kill termites from the underground within two months.

The vice chancellor said that the institution embarked on such innovative project in realisation of the fact that the world would be static

without innovations.

Babalola, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, said: “there is always a need to improve quality of life and to do that, it is necessary to

engage in innovative researches.

“There are many challenges in various communities around the world waiting for people to solve them.

“Innovative research solves problems. Innovation should be applied to our current state of life so that we can have better quality of life.

“For example, there is one we have discovered and we are still working on it.

“We spent a minimum of over N300,000 to fumigate our hostels each semester and if we add residential areas, we will be talking

about N400, 000 or more.

“But there is someone on this campus who has discovered a very cheap method of fumigating such that we will spend just about N20,000.

“The cockroaches die, even snakes, so, we are going to take it up and see how we can turn it into a research that is systematically carried out,

evaluated and validated,” she said.

On the impact of the innovative projects on the host community, Babalola explained that the institution had not reached out to the community.

According to her, it is important to package the product properly in a way that it can be easily and properly marketed.

“The product has to be patented before exposing it to the community. My plan is to see my students go out and see termites infected

areas in the community and provide solution,’’ she said.

The vice chancellor stated that Christland University had a strong focus on research and innovation, adding that one of her objectives was

to ensure continuous innovative research among staff and students.

“So, I actually coined what I called `innovate Chrisland’, so that annually as we graduate students, we will honour students or staff that have

done something innovative, carrying out innovative research,’’ she said.

Prof. Festus Oyawale, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Covenant University, Ota, said that some of the innovations

by students of the Chemical Engineering Department included the Batch Distillation Units, used to separate mixtures such as ethanol and water.

Oyawale also said that a door access control system, GSM based surveillance home security system, energy consumption management system,

remote cooling fan speed regulator system and mobile room ventilator were other innovations made by the Department of Electrical and Electronics

Engineering.

He said that students of Department of Mechanical Engineering also made a dual powered spice milling machine, multi grain separator and livestock

water digester which could be used in homes.

Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun, on its part, says its African Centre of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases’ innovation has been able to

detect, manage and control infectious diseases in the country.

Prof. Onikepe Folarin, who is the Head of the centre, said that the university, through its innovation, helped the country to detect, contain and

control the outbreak of Ebola virus in 2014.

Folarin said that the centre, established in 2013, helped to contain outbreak of Monkey Pox in 2017 in Cross River and Yellow Fever in Edo in 2018.

She added that the centre was in the forefront of diagnosing and helping to control disease outbreak in the country.

She explained that the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) often sends samples of infectious diseases to the centre for analysis and diagnosis.

“Our main area of strength is on infectious disease and that is what we do. We are very strong in diagnosis.

“We use the knowledge of Genomics and Genomics information to tackle health issues and also use it to tackle infectious diseases in Nigeria and

West Africa, where we have high rate of infectious diseases,’’ Folarin said.

She said that the centre was equally working on vaccines and drugs, aside diagnosis, to cure infectious diseases.

Also, the management of Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) says the institution is able to generate locally made Computer Based Testing (CBT) software.

Dr Babajide Afolabi, the acting Director of Obafemi Awolowo University Computing Centre, said the university was known for its innovation in ICT.

According to him, most of the software used to run the university system are generated by the institution.

He said that among the software innovated were the ‘Home-grown Ife Student Information system’, which was being used to process students’ results.

Afolabi also said that the university had been using the software it developed since 1990, adding that the institution’s  portal was fully developed locally.

According to him, the innovative project has contributed positively to the development of the university.

“We have been able to save less than N16 million annually on post UTME which we are successfully doing by our locally made CBT.

“The university also partnered with other institutions and companies like Charms and Venture Garden Group (VGD) in producing different software.

“Our target is to become `Software Hub’ for the nation where software will be developed for projects cheaply.

“We are also in the process of signing an agreement with Nigerian Army to develop software called `Land Forces Simulation Centre’ which will help the

army in training,’’ he said.

At the Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), the institution says it invested resources and time into building world class facility within its short time.

It also stated its resolve to ensure that inventors and job providers rather than job seekers were raised in the university.

Head of Corporate Affairs at the university, Mr Tunde Olofintila, said ABUAD Farms, established about eight years ago, is one of the institution’s showpiece projects.

ABUAD’s farms alone sit on several hectares of land and has a staff strength of about 85 workers, aside from hundreds of others working as core university staff.

“This is not to talk about the university’s wood processing industry where finished woods are processed for export.

“There was a day we tried to go round all the boundaries of the farm and it took us three hours to accomplish.

“Top on the list of our farm innovations is the idea behind the Moringa processing facility.

Moringa is super food which contains all the nutrients our body needs.

“We have already developed several products from the moringa leaf which we plant here. We have the leaf, seed, moringa tea, capsules, hair cream,

soap and body butter.

“The products are now marketed at commercial capacity, ABUAD may well be the first to fully utilise the moringa into several products in the country.

“Afe Babalola University invested heavily in the feed mill, which now services about four South Western states. The feed mill also currently makes food

for quails, pigs, geese, snails and poultry across the country

“There is also a bee farm which produces undiluted honey daily,’’ he said.

According to him, one of the main revolutions thrown up at the farm is the construction of a fruit storage barn which can store fruits for about six months.

Olofintila, who expressed regrets that Nigeria loses about 40 per cent of its agricultural products due to poor storage facilities, said “ABUAD barn

makes economic sense.

“We also have over 600 fish ponds, each having a minimum of 5,000 fishes, and massive artificial lakes scattered all over the farms.

“There is also the mango plantation where we have well over 110,000 trees of Tom Atkinson specie of mango, which produces several thousands

of fruits yearly for local consumption and export.

“The university also has Teek Tree plantation with over 500,000 trees.’’

The Vice Chancellor of ABUAD, Prof. Michael Ajisafe, said the institution recently turned the sod for the establishment of Research Industrial Park.

He explained that the park was designed to translate into viable products, the research efforts of the university through the establishment of various

industries in a dedicated park.

Ajisafe said that the park would take off with a 5.7 Megawatts of Gas turbine-driven Power Plant, which would be provided by ABUAD Plant Limited.

He said it would also provide veritable platform for staff, undergraduates and graduates training and general technical empowerment.

He added that it would promote investments in high-tech industries, as well as encourage the establishment of small, medium and large scale

industries totalling 120.

At the Ekiti State University, the institution said it established solar power infrastructure as alternative energy source.

Mr Bunmi Ajibade, the institution’s Director of Information, said the university was determined to nurture and create a range of renewable energy

sources, including wind energy.

Short Link: https://wp.me/pcj2iU-2VTf

Hadiza Aliyu

Hadiza Aliyu: NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. We are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and we strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor @ nnn.ng. Disclaimer.

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