Benard Makaa's LoS journey
It all started with a random walk to hall seven (JKUAT,) where I had been going for a while to brainstorm on ideas on how to execute my final year project “Wireless Power Transmission Using Solid State Tesla Coils”.
I wanted to do this project because its success would have made a step towards freeing ourselves from wires/cables, and this has obvious advantages. Second, it was also sort of unconscious tribute to one of my heroes, Nikola Tesla, the pioneer in this field.
Right on the surface of one of the walls was a poster by Lions of Science (LoS) calling for students to submit their projects for a contest. I wrote down all the necessary details concerning the submission requirements. I mulled over the challenge. Was it necessary for me to participate in? What difference would it make in my life? Would I win? It was my final year and I had also become heavily involved with JKUAT Philosophical Society and the JKUAT students union (I was the electrical department student representative). So taking this new challenge would have meant straining my already limited time.
Nevertheless, since the timelines for Lions of Science project submission and presentation far preceded the Universities’, I took the challenge since I foresaw that it would help me accelerate my efforts in preparations for final year projects presentation. I now have the advantage of retrospect and I can safely say that if it were not for my participation in the Lions of Science Awards Challenge, I probably would have not met the university timelines, and thus no graduation. I will spare you the details.
Lions of Science Awards Challenge include prize money, professional consultations on further development of solutions and these were extra motivations too. I submitted my project abstract on time. There was a shortlisting of the first 100 viable projects. Then a few more write-ups and they narrowed down to 25 projects.
At this stage we were assembled for a seminar on Intellectual property rights with insightful presentation by Prof. Ethel O. Monda (of Kenyatta University). She enlightened us on copyright laws and procedures, patent application process and many other useful tips. I later used these tips to copyright a high school guidance book I had written titled “Smart Way to improve your Mind and Grades”. The seminar was held at Heinrich Boll Foundation offices.
Immediately after the seminar, and with one more project write up, the final shortlisting was completed and I was amongst the top 10 finalists who would compete for the three prize categories. Unfortunately, my project was nowhere near implementation on 30th October 2014, when the LoS award ceremony took place.
I nevertheless carried the different components of the project and did my presentation at Goethe-Institute, Maendeleo House. As I had almost expected, I did not win. How could I without a working prototype? The chief guest, Dr Bitange Ndemo deeply encouraged me to carry on with the research.
As a result of participating in the awards cycle, I improved my presentation skills and got to know other innovators. I eventually completed my project in readiness for final year project presentations. The project was also exhibited and presented during the JKUAT TECH EXPO .It was also published on the “Journal of Sustainable Research in Engineering” and presented at the Sustainable Research and Innovation (SRI) Conference, 2015. This new found courage also saw me write another paper on “Heuristic view on Intelligent Building Designs as a means to Save Energy” which was presented during the National Science Week” May 2015, organized by NACOSTI.
I am currently working as an electrical engineer at one of the leading Mechanical &Electrical consulting firms in Kenya. I also started an educational &IT company (Brendatt Limited), an electrical website (www.eeducationgroup.com) and educational website (www.eeekenya.com)where I share relevant resources. I hope to continue with my research work on wireless power transmission.
Lions of Science was a journey worth taking. In the end, it is the journey that mattered to me and I am grateful that LoS became part of my life story.