Four third-year students in the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering have won the University’s 7th Innovation and Career Fair Competition with an Electric Power Smart Wheelchair project. The Innovation competition which was held on 14th July 2023 was the climax of the weeklong activities schedule from 10th to 14th July 2023 for the annual Innovation and Career Fair of the University. The Fair which is orgainsed annually provides an avenue for students to showcase their talents through a series of competitions including a Hackathon and an Innovation Contest. These competitions create the platform for participants to sharpen their ideas and link their output to industrial and societal needs while exploring the possibilities of developing their innovations into direct commercial ventures for economic and social gains.
This year’s 5-hour Hackathon contest centred on Disaster Management and Resilience in Ghana. Ten (10) teams namely, Knight, Caban, Tech Innovators, Infinity Generations, Code Crafters, Oracle, Sentinels, Limitless and Gringo totaling ninety-five (95) students participated. The teams were tasked to create platforms that facilitates community-based disaster response and recovery efforts by connecting volunteers, local organisations, and government agencies to collaborate, share resources, and coordinate relief efforts during emergencies.
At the close of the heated contest, Team Oracle from the Computer Science and Engineering Department emerged winners with a cogent app linking victims of disaster to disaster management organisations and vice-versa.
Judges for the contest were the Coordinator for the National Disaster Management Orgaisation in Tarkwa, the Director for the National Ambulance Services, Tarkwa and the Chief Executive Officer of Eddytech Consult.
The main Innovation competition which climaxed the Fair received a total of twenty-three (23) abstracts out of which ten (10) qualified to contest for the preliminary round. Out of the ten (10) teams six finalists including Teams Tech-Works, Radxatech, Oratech, Alpha Prodigies, Nextron, and Era keenly contested for ultimate prize through presentations and demonstrations of their works.
Team Tech-Work swept the first position with an impressive project on an autonomous wheelchair designed to enable persons with disability to move about easily with little or no dependence on others. The project explored the conversion of a manually-operated wheelchair into an electronically powered one to enhance the movement of the mobility-impaired.
The electric powered smart wheelchair combines several innovative features to enhance the mobility and independence of individuals with disabilities. It is equipped with four controllers, including a joystick, remote, smartphone, and voice controller, which provide users with multiple options for controlling the wheelchairs movements. One of the key features of the smart wheelchair is the obstacle sensor system, which uses advanced sensors to detect potential obstacles in its path and avoids them to prevent collisions and injuries. The sensors also allow the wheelchair to sense its environment and adjust its speed and direction, accordingly for users.
Additionally, the autonomous navigation capabilities, which allow it to move independently and follow pre-programmed routes or navigate to specific locations based on voice or smartphone commands will make the wheelchair particularly useful in hospitals and nursing homes, where the wheelchair can be programmed to transport patients from one location to another without the need for manual operation. The wheelchair also has a remote control which enables caregivers or hospital staff to operate the equipment from a distance thereby providing greater flexibility and convenience.
Further, the electric powered smart wheelchair uses a smartphone controller which allows users to control it through a mobile application via an intuitive and easy-to-use interface.
The voice controller is also a hands-free feature of the wheelchair that enables users to control the wheelchair’s movements through voice commands, providing a convenient and accessible mode of operation.
Overall, the electric powered smart wheelchair project is a significant advancement in assistive technology, offering a safe, efficient, and convenient mode of transportation for individuals with disabilities and has the potential to improve the quality of life for users and transform the healthcare industry by providing enhanced mobility and independence.
For the good effort, Team Tech-Work was awarded a cash prize of GH₵ 5,000.00.
Team Radxatech, from the School of Railway and Infrastructure Development came second place with a unique project on the integration of an automated railway level-crossing system and software applications to reduce railway accidents and increase productivity and efficiency in the railway sector. The level-crossing system has features such as an automatic barrier closure integrated with light and dark sensors to reduce energy consumption, traffic light, buzzers, a solar tracking power source, an alternating current power supply, and advanced motion sensors.
Team Oratech took the 3rd position with a unique universal industrial safety system for the mining and allied industry. The system comprises a distinctive helmet and an app. The helmet has an emergency alarm and a sensor to guide its users. The sensors detect the temperature and humidity of the environment, air quality and gases such as LPG, smoke, and carbon monoxide, amongst others. The app, called the “miners’ companion” also has features such as incident reporting, equipment management, safety training models, a to-do list and a live chat, health tips, a safety checklist and miners’ rights.
The 4th position went to Team Alpha Prodigies who presented an innovation on smart farming technology. Team Alpha Prodigies developed an AI-integrated app that detects plant diseases and provides users with info gathered from their farms. The app has unique features such as farm analytics, AI-generated reports, audio translated versions into languages such Twi, Ewe and Frafra. The technology is designed with the objective to promote smart and effective farming practices in Ghana.
The second, third, and fourth positions received cash prices of GH₵ 4,000.00.
GH₵ 3,000.00 and GH₵ 2,000.00 respectively.
Emerging in the 5th and 6th positions with a cash price of GH₵ 1,500.00 respectively were teams Nextron and Era who developed the Drone-based Surveillance and Threat Detection, and the Current Leakage Detection Systems.
Addressing participants and the audience, the Guest Speaker for the programme, Mr David Ofori, Director of Innovations at the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme-NEIP indicated that strategy, availability of resources including support infrastructure, entrepreneurship education, start-up support, and evaluation promotes sustainable innovations and businesses. According to Mr Ofori, although academia provides students with the skills and knowledge to participate effectively in the creation and growth of high-impact business ventures in the creative, social, and technology sectors, there is also the need to provide the necessary start-up support infrastructure to create successful businesses.
The keynote speaker for the 7th Innovation and Career Fair and CEO of Exonexus Venture Limited, Mr Prince Nana Kow Essel in his address, said that the Innovation and Career Fair is a testament to a collective determination to foster a culture of innovation and empower students to be the trailblazers for the future. Mr Essel encouraged students to be optimistic and venture into entrepreneurship with their innovations in order to support the economic needs of the country.
The Pro Vice Chancellor and Chairperson for the programme, Professor Anthony Simons expressed deep appreciation to the sponsors of the 7th Innovation and Career Fair. Professor Simons was optimistic that the innovations presented by the students will be well-polished and sought after in the nearest future. Professor Simons urged the contestants not to rest on their oars but to continue to be creative and explore initiatives that will solve the many social and economic needs in the country.
Among the guests present at the 2023 Innovation and Career Fair were representatives from Newmont Ghana, the Manager for Electricity Company of Ghana, Tarkwa, Ing Benjamin Odame Thompson, the Director of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Tarkwa, Mr Nana Banyin Acquah Thompson, the Regional Director of Ghana Tourism Authority, Mr Henry Yeledour, the Chief Executive Officer of Eddytech Consult, Mr Edward Armah, representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, Tarkwa Municipal Hospital, Tarkwa Nsuaem Municipal Assembly, management, staff and students of the University.
Another highlight of the 7th Innovation and Career Fair was the Career Skills and Development Workshop with Total Energies Ghana, where students received coaching on How to prepare Curriculum Vitae and Job Application Writing. Officials from Total Energies also took students through mock interviews with the aim of prepping them for the job market.
The 7th Innovation and Career Fair received participation and sponsorship from AngloGold Ashanti Ghana, Newmont Gold Corporation, Precious Mining Marketing Company (PMMC), Ardent Fire, Asanko Gold Ghana, Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Ghana Gas, Intertek Minerals Limited and Total Energies Ghana.