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Meet Usman Umar, a 24-Year-Old Nigerian Student who has invented Robotic cars, drones, from scrap devices

Usman Umar Dagona, a 24-year-old Yobe-based undergraduate scientist, is about creativity. Through his knowledge of science and technology, he recently fabricated machines, including a robotic car and drones for local use from the scraps of electronic devices and other items. In 2019, Dagona created an outstanding record as he participated and won the Imaging National Chemistry competition, beating over 1,700 others in Abuja.

In an interview with DAILY TRUST, Usman spoke on his aspirations, targets, successes, and challenges.

As an undergraduate you were able to fabricate drones and cars; how did your academic journey start?

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

Your background is more of Chemistry, what inspired you to start inventions?

I started inventions in 2019 with my cell phone project, which took me nearly three years to complete. Science is all about innovations – adding this and that to get results. As I said in the previous interview we had, so long as we continue to study science and technology in our schools, young people will be able to come up with something tangible and practical. That’s exactly the challenge I took. 

I disagree with the notion 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 brace up.

Inventions and innovations increase our chances to react to changes and discover new opportunities around us. We cannot develop as a country if we can’t study our environment and invent technological gadgets that would support us and ease our day-to-day tasks.

It is crystal clear that the world today has a major transition in technology, inventions and innovations from a technology with simple in-built chips and circuits, to a more advanced one filled with a host of modern hi-tech that makes work and life more simple and comfortable.

Furthermore, numerous and powerful technologies have been developed to assist people in industries, agriculture, health, education, transportation and many more. So, generally, these reasons are the building blocks that motivated me to be an inventor.

What are some of the things you fabricated, and how do you source the materials?

I get most of the materials I use from scraps and remnants of electronic devices. 

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

The robotic car I fabricated was designed to maintain energy usage – energy recovery system. It comprised of six microcontrollers that allow the board to receive signal, transmit the signal and carry out the task it is directed to carry. It also has a high-speed camera and an obstacle avoidance/detection device. 

What makes this robotic car special is that it can be controlled by three methods – voice command, android bluetooth and hand controller.

I also developed two types of artificial drones: Deeny Talba multi-purpose drone and Kapeh universal surveillance drone.

The Deeny Talba multi-purpose drone is unique, with a special inbuilt system designed to carry out multiple tasks, ranging from photography, videography, firefighting, agriculture, surveillance and intelligence activities, while the Kapeh universal surveillance drone 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 target is to develop a lot of gadgets that can be used locally in our society. For instance, to help and fight the recent kidney failure challenges in Yobe State. I am currently working on a device known as Watergen Machine that absorbs air, dehumidifies and ‘condensifies’ it to produce fresh water for drinking. The water it will produce is expected to be healthier than underground water because it is free from heavy metals and other diseases causing agents. I have also developed a local kidney flusher, but currently working on it to reach a certain level of standard, and many more projects.

What are some of the challenges you face?

Actually, there are not many challenges for now. I sought for the permission of the government to transfer the knowledge to the younger ones, and I am glad that the Yobe State Government has graciously done that by employing me to teach after my previous chat with you. 

The main challenge I am battling with here cannot be far from financial constraints. Financial obstacles directly affect the quality of inventions and innovations. It costs me almost N150,000 to develop these three projects. I didn’t complete the Deeny Talba multi-purpose drone.

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

I engaged the service of some high-level experienced technocrats, academics and teeming engineers, who are supporting me to realise my goals.

Thank you so much for reading. We will appreciate it if you share this with your loved ones.

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