Mount Kenya University continues to lead in innovation, and some of its innovators have worn awards for their excellence and unparalleled works.
ANTI-BURGLARY SECURITY SYSTEM BY MR. ELIJAH KUPATA
Mr. Elijah Kupata is a former Diploma in Electronic Engineering student of Mount Kenya University. Now a renowned young innovator, Kupata designed a security gadget that could alert the homeowner about a break-in through the mobile phone. Through a motion sensor, the gadget, sensor triggered, captures and processes images that are sent directly to one's phone as notification in case of any emergencies like theft and fire. For one to use the system, the mobile phones must be 3G enabled, meaning it should have video call features. The camera is mounted somewhere inside a house or car and because it is internet enabled, it streams images directly to the phone and one can see exactly what is happening to their facilities in case of infringement in real time.
The former student was supported by the University and received further funding from the National Council of Science and Technology to improve on his innovation. The University recognizes the efforts of its former students and continues to render him support in the development of his innovation. Kupata was recently awarded by President Mwai Kibaki as the best innovator for 2012, which is a major milestone for him and the University. Recently, his firm, Kupata Technologies has landed a multimillion contract with a Tanzanian firm to install and maintain the security system, and has currently a workforce of over 60 people.
HYGIENIC HAND WASH UNIT BY ALEX KIRAGU
Alex Kiragu is a former student of Mount Kenya University. He reckons that maintenance of proper hygiene is vital in ensuring good health, and to help achieve national and international aspirations including Kenya Vision 2030 and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Most of contagious diseases are transmitted through surface contact. Proper cleaning of our hands is an important step as an effort to prevent such diseases. In the existing mechanical hand washing systems, we are normally forced to open a tap with dirty hands prior to cleaning our hands, and then proceed to clean our hands as usual and finally close the dirty tap with the “clean” hands. In this practice, there is a dominant recontamination and a risk to our health especially in public lavatories, health facilities, schools, public utilities, engineering and science research laboratories, food and catering facilities, and agricultural settings (eg. livestock dwellings) just to mention but a few. Apart from the contamination risk, it is also prudent to consider economical usage of water in the systems designed for hand washing. This can only be achieved by ensuring that the valve used has the following features: Instant opening and closing and proportional control concept included in the design and construction.
Mr. Kiragu has designed and constructed a mechanical foot-operated water valve in order to eliminate the problems of poor hygiene and wastage of water during the important activity of hand washing. The hygienic mechanical valve is connected to an existing water system whereby, the foot pedal is anchored on the ground or on the floor of a house. In order to make the innovation universal in terms of application, the innovation was further developed in to a mobile hand washing unit after addition of some auxiliary parts. Eventually a foot-operated water dispenser was realized. This unit proved to be useful in small hotels, schools, cleaning of bed-ridden patients in hospitals, ambulances, camping sites, salons and barber shops, outside catering facilities, just to mention but a few. It is also key to note that the universality of the innovation is embodied in the fact that the system is mechanically (manually) operated and thus very useful in rural areas where there is no electricity. The University in recognizing his innovative ideas has engaged him as a full time staff in the Innovation and Incubation Centre where he mentors other young innovators. Kiragu was recently awarded an innovation grant from NCST as well as the University to continue improving on his innovation.
Right: Alex Kiragu demonstrating his innovation.
MOBILE TRAFFIC ACT ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM (m-Traffic) BY DANIEL MACHARIA
Mr. Daniel Macharia is currently a student of MKU pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. A lot of time is lost in police stations and courts of law dealing with traffic offences, most misdemeanors, with economic implications not only to the individuals but also the country. The current system also creates conducive environment for corrupt activities for the two parties, the law enforcers and the motorists. To mitigate against this challenges, Mr. Macharia has developed a software that uses a Mobile Communication Device (cell phones) dubbed m-Traffic system. Through the system, a traffic enforcement officer legally files traffic offenses committed by drivers or motor vehicles. Also, background check on motor vehicle or driver’s traffic offense record can be done using a mobile phone. The traffic offenders receive Electronic Police Notification of Traffic Offense as an SMS alert on their mobile phones requiring them to pay instant penalty through mobile electronic money transfer services such as ‘M-Pesa’ or attend a traffic court. Members of public can use the application to report traffic offenses committed by drivers or motor vehicles, check vehicles or drivers’ traffic offense record and report traffic law enforcers involved in corrupt activities. The m-Traffic system enforces an eight-hour working schedule for PSV drivers to ensure that the drivers are permanently employed by one employer. The University is a key player in solving the challenges facing the country, including loss of lives due to road carnage, and innovations like these may just provide the right solutions.
Mr. Daniel Macharia receiving Kenya ICT Board authority to set up a digital village in Starehe Costituency from Dr. Bitange Ndemo, the P.S. Ministry of Information and Communication.
MODIFIED EGG INCUBATOR BY PETER MITHAMO
Peter Mithamo is a member of staff in the Engineering department. Incubators are machines, which artificially provide the egg with the correct, controlled environment for the developing chicks. Depending on complexity, an incubator will give varying degrees of control over temperature, humidity, egg turning, fresh air flow and hygiene; while providing a secure place for the eggs. Mr. Mithamo has developed a modified egg incubator that is a first in Kenya.
The incubator can use both A/C and D/C current.
The incubator has been tested and has an 86% success rate. Mr. Mithamo is currently incubating eggs and selling to the Thika residents thus reducing the current food security challenges in the country. Mount Kenya University continues to support staff and student innovators through funding and other incentives.
Left: Mr. Peter Mithamo of MKU Engineering Department working on his Egg Incubator Innovation. Right: Mr. Peter Mithamo feeding the one day chicks hatched from his incubator.