Meet student Yobe and his robotic car

The story of Usman Umar Dagona, a 24-year-old scientist based in Yobe, is about creativity. Using his knowledge of science and technology, he has recently made machines including a robotic car and drones for local use from scrap electronics and other objects. In 2019, Dagona created an outstanding record by participating and winning the Imaging National Chemistry competition, beating over 1700 others in Abuja. In this interview with our correspondent, he spoke about his aspirations, his objectives, his successes and his challenges.

AAs an undergrad, you may have made drones and cars; how did your university career begin?

I was born on February 2, 1998 in Gashua, Baden Local Government Area in Yobe State. I attended Umar Suleiman Central Primary School and Gashua Government Secondary School. From there I went to Umar Suleiman College of Education, Gashua where I obtained a National Certificate in Education (NCE) in Chemistry. I am currently a 200 level student in Chemistry at the Federal University of Gashua.

Your training is rather in chemistry, what inspired you to launch inventions?

I started inventions in 2019 with my mobile phone project, which took me almost three years. Science is about innovations – add this and that to get results. As I said in the previous interview we had, as long as we continue to study science and technology in our schools, young people will be able to come up with something concrete and practical. This is exactly the challenge I took on.

I disagree with the idea that Nigerians and Africans cannot invent or create anything. I want to change the narrative about us, as well as encourage young scientists of my generation to prepare.

Inventions and innovations increase our chances of reacting to changes and discovering new opportunities around us. We cannot develop as a country if we cannot study our environment and invent technological gadgets that would support us and facilitate our daily tasks.

It is crystal clear that the world today is experiencing a major transition in technology, inventions and innovations from a technology with simple chips and integrated circuits, to a more advanced technology filled with a host of modern advanced technologies that make work and life easier and more comfortable.

Moreover, many powerful technologies have been developed to help people in industries, agriculture, health, education, transportation and many more. So generally these reasons are the basic things that motivated me to be an inventor.

What are some of the things you’ve made and how do you get the materials?

I get most of the materials I use from scrap and leftover electronics.

The materials are mainly from local sources, except for a high-speed camera, a natural language processor, receivers, transmitters and microcontrollers that I have to buy.

The robotic car I made was designed to maintain energy consumption – energy recovery system. It includes six microcontrollers that allow the board to receive the signal, transmit the signal, and perform the task it is tasked with performing. It also has a high-speed camera and obstacle avoidance/sensing.

What makes this robot car special is that it can be controlled by three methods: voice control, Bluetooth Android and gamepad.

I have also developed two types of artificial drones: the versatile Deeny Talba drone and the universal Kapeh surveillance drone.

The versatile Deeny Talba drone is unique, with a special integrated system designed to perform multiple tasks, ranging from photography, videography, firefighting, agriculture, surveillance and intelligence activities, while the drone of Kapeh Universal Surveillance is designed for surveillance activities. It has a high speed camera with many special features that can be used by an intelligence community.

What is your target, going into the future?

My goal is to develop a large number of gadgets that can be used locally in our society. For example, to help and tackle the recent problems of kidney failure in Yobe State. I am currently working on a device known as the Watergen Machine which takes in air, dehumidifies it and ‘condenses’ it to produce soft drinking water. The water it will produce should be healthier than groundwater as it is free of heavy metals and other pathogens. I have also developed a local renal flush, but I am currently working on it to reach a certain level of standard, and many other projects.

What are some of the challenges you face?

In fact, there are not many challenges at the moment. I have requested permission from the government to transfer the knowledge to the younger ones, and I am glad that the Yobe state government has graciously done so by employing me to teach after my previous conversation with you.

The main challenge I am struggling with here cannot be far from financial constraints. Financial barriers directly affect the quality of inventions and innovations. It costs me nearly 150,000 naira to develop these three projects. I haven’t completed the Deeny Talba multi-purpose drone.

But to keep the momentum going, I started a foundation called Dagona Science and Technical Foundation to train young engineers and guide students interested in entrepreneurship, inventions, and innovations across the country.

I have engaged the services of high-level experienced technocrats, academics and engineers, who support me in achieving my goals.

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