TVET students display their innovations

Tharaka Technical and Vocational Institute students show flower vases they made using sisal fibre, cement and water. [Joseph Muchiri, Standard]
An array of innovations and inventions were showcased at an exhibition that brought together 31 technical institutions from the Mt Kenya region.

They ranged from simple ones such as an eggs incubator made from a recycled water bottle to a more complex solar powered, cell phone-operated miniature smart car that caught the attention of spectators as it circled the exhibition area.

Developed by students from the institutes under the guidance of tutors, the innovations cut across various sectors, including agriculture, waste management and recycling, energy and water saving, food and beauty.

The creative ideas on display resonated with the event’s theme “Tvet for the Big Four Agenda: The role of science, technology and innovations”.

Dubbed the Mt Kenya Region Tvet Fair/Exhibition, symposium and robotics contest, the three-day event was held at Kerugoya Catholic Parish from Wednesday to yesterday.

Michuki Technical Training Institute displayed a recycling plant for waste aluminium, powered by used car oil.

The plant has improvised chambers that are combusted by used car oil to produce high temperature heat that melts aluminium waste such as cans and car parts.

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“We have another chamber designed to mould the molten aluminium into useful tools such as spanners,” said Martin Ndichu, a student.

Poultry keeping by small-scale farmers is bedevilled by hardships, with the rate of reproduction low for farmers who use natural methods – having a hen incubate its eggs. This motivated certificate in agriculture students from Nyandarua Institute of Science and Technology, Elizabeth Muthoni and Judy Irungu, to make a cheap incubator using a water bottle.

The 20-litre plastic bottle has a hole on its lower end with a removable lid to act as a doorway to place eggs. On the side of the bottle is a tiny hole to act as a vent through a used biro pen and another larger hole, which is a passage for heat from a 25-watt bulb.

Inside the bottle is sawdust that provide a soft layer for eggs and a 250ml water container that controls humidity. In addition is a temperature sensor, which switches the bulb or on off to regulate the optimum temperature for the incubator.

“The innovation has shown 80 per cent effectiveness. I was motivated to make it after seeing the problems my mother underwent hatching eggs using a hen. A hen can at times abandon her eggs even two days to hatching,” said Muthoni.

Saving water

Their trainer Morris Njenga said they had helped the students hatch 100 eggs.

Their principal Mohammed Hassan, who is also region’s TVET vice-chairperson, promised to assist the students to improve the innovation further.

Frequently, various parts of the country suffer water shortages. To solve this problem, two students from Jeremiah Nyaga Technical Training Institute have improvised a water saving bathroom. The bath water is turned on or off using a foot pedal.

“While bathing, you press the pedal and water from the overhead shower head gushes out. When you release the pedal, the shower stops. This reduces water lost while turning a tap on or off. It also reduces contamination of the tap,” said Lewis Gitonga, the brains behind the innovation.

In the same institute, students also made Terazzo glass finish using waste glass crushed into granules and mixed with cement and water.

Where does that weave end up after outliving its usefulness on a wearer’s head? Instead of tossing it away into garbage bins, Meru National Polytechnic students have found a better use. They recycle it to produce mats, flower decorations and frames for portraits.

On display at their stand was one such portrait of President Uhuru Kenyatta and their chief principal Geoffrey Rukunja.

Walking past the exhibition arena, one could not the strip door curtain presented by students from Nkabune TTI.

It is only when you touch it that you realise it is made from recycled straws. On robotics, students from various institutes used apps and electronics to come up with innovations such as operating lights and appliances using their smartphones.

With fears that use of agrochemicals is contributing to the rising cases of cancer, an innovation by Meru National Polytechnic to produces a bio-pesticide is worth exploring.

Using herbs, chilli and Mexican marigold, the students make a portent liquid that when sprayed on crops kills pests and nematodes.

The events coordinator, David Mburu, the Principal of Mathira Technical and Vocational College, commended the newly established TVETs such as Mathira, Runyenjes and Ndia whose students developed creative solutions to their regions’ needs.

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