Lets build drones

Hear from the ADDA students on their experience so far

Naomi Kalemba and Lulutani Tembo
ADDA students building drones in their first week of class
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Moving Minds

11 February 2020

Babatunde Timilehin Ogunkunle from Osun State, in Nigeria

“I have always been interested in technology from a young age. As a result, I studied for a degree in Surveying and Geoinformatics at the Federal University of Technology, Akure. Over the past years I have worked as an intern at the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office and volunteered as a research assistant at the Department of Surveying and Geoinformatics, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.  I love innovations and technology, and I want to use this to make my contribution towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger. I will do this by using drones in Agriculture. Specifically, I want to use drones to help increase the production of healthy crops through precision agriculture techniques. This means using drones to provide farmers with real-time environmental data to make effective and efficient decisions in crop management, which will lead to a significant reduction in costs and an increase in yield. My stay at the ADDA is helping me to get the skills and knowledge needed to turn these plans into reality.”

Babatunde at the ADDA lab in Lilongwe Malawi
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Moving Minds
Babatunde at the ADDA lab in Lilongwe Malawi

Fred Sajiwa, the Lilongwe native

I was born in rural Lilongwe, and from a very young age, I have experienced poverty and had family problems. My older brother raised me, and there was no one around to encourage me to work hard in school. Despite this, I still made it to Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in natural resources management.

I have worked as a volunteer and consultant for UNICEF Malawi in various capacities. I have also worked on the USAID/Chemonics Arial Vehicle project in Nkhatabay district, where we were using drones to transport medical equipment from the Nkhatabay district hospital to the nearby six remote health centres.

The past few weeks spent at the ADDA have been exciting for me. I have learnt how to design and assemble hybrid, multirotor and fixed-wing drones. I have also mastered the operations process used in drones for surveillance, collection and delivery of medical products from one point to another. After I graduate from here, I want to open a firm that will focus on social entrepreneurship, including training interested youths from vulnerable communities in mapping and GIS and remote sensing. In a country where there are only five qualified AUV pilots, the combination of skills gained will make me the 6th pilot, and I am super excited that will join this elite club.

Fred holding a controller used for flying drones at the ADDA lab.
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Moving Minds
Fred holding a controller used for flying drones at the ADDA lab.

Hope Kelvin Chilunga, the Electronics and Computer Engineer from Blantyre Malawi

I am a scientist at heart with a passion for designing and sustainable development. I have a diploma in Information and Technology and an honours degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering from the University of Malawi.

I am currently working as a design engineer in the engineering design studio of the Polytechnic College where I design affordable electronic devices for agriculture, healthcare and education sectors. Before joining the University of Malawi, I interned with Rice 360 Global Health working on a project developing prototypes for use in health.

Malawi is developing, and it is essential to ensure that this development is sustainable, affordable and green. While at the ADDA, I want to learn how drone companies in developed countries transfer their ideas into easy-to-use and sellable products.

So far, I have learnt the fundamentals of aerodynamics, assembling of HolyBro s500 and Ranger 1600 drones, designing and printing of drone parts using 3D printers, piloting drones, safety rules and regulation from the Department of Civil Aviation. I intend to use these skills to solve health problems in Malawi. I also plan to use the experience to improve my drone prototype into a product that can be used daily.

The problems are many: farmers need irrigation pumps; hospitals need suction machines to help babies born with breathing problems; hospital pharmacies need automatic pill (drug) counters to prevent drug waste and contamination; students need solar-powered reading devices in places where there is no electricity.

In the long term, I plan to start up a drone and drone parts manufacturing company. Manufacturing drones and drone parts locally will help to make them affordable. I already have a right combination of theory and practice in electronics, computer engineering and management, which I will continue to use to create technological solutions to address these problems that children and the community at large face.

Hope working on a drone that the students are assembling at ADDA
UNICEF Malawi/2020/Moving Minds
Hope working on a drone that the students are assembling at ADDA