THE STUDENT ENGINEER MAY-JULY -2015 ISSUE



Security: An engineering approach

By Lewis Sakwa.

A reflection into the flaws of the security systems of a country
'We are not facing an Engineering Problem. We are facing a Moral Challenge. To secure our lives therefore we must establish the problem first- Problem finding- whether moral or otherwise, we must engineer a solution by simple laws of Mathematics and Physics. We have to force those without skill, yet decadent to abandon their way of trusting no one but the system. We must submit to the system. To do so we have to give the maker of our system the numerical worth of our lives.'

Terrorism has got us on the edge of our seats. While the responsible fellows sit down and meditate on how to curb this terror threat for long enough to have us killed, students are being murdered as institutions become target of... Read more

INNOVATION: A function of war or peace?

By Lewis Sakwa.

Which stimulates technological innovation more, war or peace? One problem with answering this question is that sustained periods of peace during which technological progress can be measured have been fewer- and usually much shorter than- periods of war. Historians of technology attempting to measure the stimulus of peace on innovation are often left with apples-to-oranges comparisons. They must speculate whether technologies- especially technologies useful to the citizen- would have progressed even further if the research and development efforts expended during wartime had flowed into commercial development instead. The data have always been on the side of those who argue that war (or periods of high military spending) stimulates innovation. Less visible are the innovations and creativity stunted by war; developments which never happened do not leave traces in the historical record. The "war is the midwife of invention" argument needs to be re-evaluated. How efficient a development path is intense government spending on wartime projects, really? Are there more efficient paths to innovation and technological progress?

Although apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult to find, the invention of public-key encryption is one major technological advance allowing direct comparison between military and civilian innovation and stimulus...Read more

SECURITY AUTOMATION: Microcontroller Aplication in Security Systems.

By Makata Namasaka.

Over the last one and a half decades, the world has witnessed soaring technological advancements with equal parts awe and fascination. Such transcendences, as it is the seeming, have set grounds for cut-throat competition in innovation and creativity that nothing no longer defies its whims. While China, Japan and the US seem eternally entangled in waging technological wars, the daunting question pokes at our enthusiasm and responsiveness to the technological dynamics that are now the parameters with which economies the world over measure their progress.

To be a developing economy is a fair enough matter but to have our sort of healthy appetites for consumer goods makes stuff for suicidal contemplation. Our hunger for cars and mobile phones is unparalleled, much like our scant consideration of the ills that devil us. The panacea of which lies right in the realms of technology....Read more

FUTURE OF DISPLAY: How do you want to watch in the future?

By Mwaniki A. Ngari.

It is always exciting to look into the crystal ball, and the display industry is moving forward at an amazing pace in these years. The following are the five display technologies that could reshape the industry...

1. OLED
OLED technology is hard to ignore , it is already running in millions of mobile devices. OLED has the potential to change the entire display industry for years to come. OLED technology can also open up entirely new markets and enable manufacturers to create product categories that we cannot even imagine yet. Due to its ability to produce paper thin and flexible displays. OLED displays can become extremely thin, transparent and even bendable which will undoubtedly change our perception of display technology. OLED could make it into for example window glass or into... Read more

5G: IS IT REALLY COMING?

By Olewe Eugene.

What is 5G?
5G is the name being given to the next generation of wireless networks (this is the fifth generation, hence 5G), but beyond that, it's hard to define. It's all in the eye of the beholder.

Reasons to be eager for 5G
5G will push augmented reality and virtual reality into the mainstream. Augmented reality overlays information like walking directions, product prices or acquaintances' names over our view of the real world by, for example, projecting data onto a car windshield. Virtual reality creates an entirely artificial view. Both need to pull in new data almost instantly.

Download speeds should increase from today's 4G peak of 150 megabits per second to at least 10 gigabits per second. That's fast enough to download an episode of your favorite series in 5 seconds instead of 30 minutes...Read more

IC: The brain that can control the brain!

By Mark Kiprotich.

A device that can control the human brain. They call it the brain of the computer but what exactly is it? You guessed it right; it is the Integrated Circuit (IC) or the (micro)- chip. How is it developed? How does it work? When was it invented and why? Who invented it? Is it flawless? An engineer of the 21st century must have answers to all these questions because it is everywhere around us. It has provided many solutions to problems that would otherwise be unsolvable. It can solve problems faster even than humans can even though the humans are the ones who made it. Some scientists and engineers even belief that sooner than later the microchip will be smarter than its inventors will.

Evolution of ICs
Tubes vs. Transistors
Just like the evolution of man, ICs evolved. The only difference is that man became straight in posture...Read more

The End of Time!: UNIX Time

By Ian Otieno.

Time and Computers
Time is essential to the correct functioning of computer systems. It is used in banks for calculating interest, GPS applications for calculating speed, embedded systems to trigger events and responses as required by the program, network applications to handle scheduling of data, cellphones and other network hardware.

In 32-bit computer systems, several Unix-like computer systems use something called a UNIX time stamp to keep track of the number of seconds since the epoch date....Read more

Memristor: The Missing Memristor Found!

By Samuel Chege.

The long-sought after memristor, the "missing link" in electronic circuit theory, has been invented by Hewlett Packard Senior Fellow R. Stanley Williams at HP Labs. Memristors: the fourth passive component type after resistors, capacitors and inductors, were postulated in a seminal 1971 paper "Memristor - The missing circuit element" in the IEEE Transactions on Circuit Theory by professor Leon Chua at the University of California (Berkeley) reasoning from symmetry, but their first realization was announced on April 30, 2008 by HP, almost four decades later.

Since the birth of electronics, engineers have made circuits using a combination of 3 basic elements resistor, capacitor and inductor. The discovery of the memristor has sparked a new wave of enthusiasm and optimism in revolutionizing circuit design, marking a new era for the advancement Memristor The Missing Memristor Found! of both digital and analogue applications...Read more

Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)

By Wreford Momanyi.

The advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), commonly known as drones, is one of man’s greatest step in technology and towards security. Drones were initially taken to be just toys and used for surveillance. But now, they have evolved to aerial soldiers. But, can we trust technology with our lives?

The application of UAVs have been on the rise in military operations. UAVs will soon overtake foot-soldiers and make the military a career for only engineers and technology enthusiasts. Currently UAVs are fitted with sensors (e.g. missile sensors), camera -to spy, geographical positioning system (GPS) and an elaborate communication system, so that they can share intelligence information among themselves and with the base (control/command center) ...Read more

BIM: What is BIM and why should you care?

By CADTech Team.

What is Building Information Modelling?
There are many definitions used to define the Process of BIM and the simplest one so far defines this process as simply, Virtual construction, whereby all the disciplines and concerned parties get to experience the construction be it a building or an item of infrastructure virtually before it is built physically. Care should be taken not to confuse BIM with software as software is just but the tool that is used to facilitate the virtual construction.

BIM seeks to create intelligent objects when creating a model that is a true representation of the actual facility that is to be constructed. I will illustrate the concept using a beam whereby during the "virtual construction", information about the beam is intentionally added to the beam model. Information includes but is not limited to its Geometric...Read more

Geospatial Intelligence: Kenyan Situation

By John Doe.

As Kenyans marked one year after the west gate attack, some months ago,I thought it would be wise to share with Kenyans on Geospatial intelligence and its relevance to the Kenyan situation. Geospatial intelligence commonly referred to as GSI (Geospatial Intelligence) or GeoIntel (Geospatial Intelligence), is a discipline which deals with the exploitation and analysis of geospatial data and information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features (both natural and constructed) and geographically referenced activities on the Earth.

A more enhanced definition is the intelligence about the human activity on earth derived from the exploitation and analysis of imagery and geospatial information that describes, assesses, and visually depicts physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. It's the process of 'obtaining information about an enemy with geographical location linked to the information.'

Some of the data sources of GEOINT include imagery and mapping data, collected by either aircraft (such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles [UAV], commercial satellite, government satellite or reconnaissance aircraft), or by other means such as maps and commercial databases, census information, GPS waypoints, utility schematics, or any...Read more

Cryptography: Is it the solution to cyber crime?

By Mwaniki A. Ngari.

Have you performed an online transaction recently? Used an ATM machine? If that is the case, with or without your knowledge, you used cryptography. Cryptography protects your bank account details as they move through the bank's network as you perform your ATM transaction and ensures that others can't withdraw money from your account.

Cryptography is the art of converting messages into unreadable groups of figures to protect the message's content during transmission by use of encryption keys and only the receiver (machine or human) is able to decrypt the message. However in the modern times, it has grown has grown from basic message confidentiality to include some elements of message integrity checking, sender/receiver identity authentication, and digital signatures.

In the earlier years, cryptography was only of interest to mathematicians and a reserve of the US military, just as the internet was once merely an academic project. Currently encryption is of tremendous significance...Read more

An Assessment of Explosion Sites

By Masinde Caleb Juma.

An explosion is defined as a large-scale, rapid and sudden release of energy. This energy propagates as a shock wave through a medium, or in the absence of a material medium, through an electromagnetic field. Explosives have a wide variety of industrial applications such as breaking hard rocks during mining and construction, demolishing defunct buildings, controlling avalanches in the Alps, aiding oil and gas exploration, visual effects in the entertainment industry and lighting up the sky during firework ceremonies.

However, on the flipside, the destructive power of explosives has been harnessed for a negative cause usually in the name of terrorism. Urban regions have borne the brunt of such attacks. One such attack on the...Read more

Crime Combat: Times of Huge Data

By The Editorial Team.

In the 2002 film Minority Report, police apprehend criminals based on the predictions of three psychics. Although the story is science fiction, the potential for law enforcement to predict and prevent a crime before it takes place is not. Because of technology-including smart-phones, surveillance cameras, and biometric sensors that can detect markers like fingerprints-more data about individuals is available now than ever before. And analyzing that data can lead law enforcement to crimes before they occur.

Beyond Pushpins From the pushpins police used in the early 1900s to mark where street crimes occurred, in order to allocate foot patrols, law enforcement has moved to computer programs that analyze data to spot areas where crimes are likely to happen. And although those programs can detect criminal activity, there's still some way to...Read more

Innovation Forum

By Lucy Mbuvi.

In March 2015, the ICT Authority held a very successful Kenya ICT Innovation Forum which was officiated by His Excellency Hon.Uhuru Kenyatta, C.G.H., President and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces of The Republic of Kenya.

The event was attended by almost 2,000 delegates from top ICT investors, academia, government officials, industry captains, financial sector and other relevant stakeholders. The event saw 300 ICT startups exhibit their products. The objective of this forum was to bring together the ICT community to review the innovation ecosystem and identify issues By Lucy Mbuvi hindering the growth of this industry.

The outcomes of the forum was the establishment of Enterprise Kenya which will be a national accelerator that will catalyze innovations and provide entrepreneurs with needed support in their innovation journey...Read more

PROFESSOR MBUTHIA: The Task Ahead

The School of Engineering recently got a new dean in office. Prof. Jackson Mwangi Mbuthia is the man at the helm of the faculty for the ones who are not aware. Meeting him gives you a reflection on an old adage. That a sense of fundamental intelligence is parceled out unequally at birth. And his is probably notable on first encounter and its measure is magnanimous. Some would call it Ruthless focus, I call it Sheer will born out of determination, talent and skillful experience of industry. He is a keen listener and observer and a fair judge of character. Above all he is friendly.

Who is Professor Mbuthia?
He is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at The University of Nairobi where he has been based more permanently since the year 2000. He currently teaches Control Engineering at the department. The Task Ahead Prof. Mbuthia holds a first class honours degree in BSc. Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Nairobi between the years 1973-1976. He holds an MSc. In Engineering from the Imperial College of London and a Ph. D from the...Read more

American Football: A taste of the USA

By George Alwang'a

Iam sure many of you have seen me and my teammates enviably geared up in a manner slightly reminiscent of roman centurions. Ok, not exactly, but you have to stretch that image from Spartacus a bit. It's because our favorite sport- American Footballrequires us to gear up protectively. Locally, it remains a sport yet to be doused with the ashes of the limelight. Most Kenyans only know of the hulking Daniel Adongo, a former Kenyan rugby star who joined the Indianapolis colts as a linebacker. However, the game is already growing within local circuits, starting with the University of Nairobi.

For the past two years, my teammates and I have raked in countless grueling hours of American football practice at the University of Nairobi's rugby pitch. It's resulted in a gradual, progressive growth of skills and abilities in the game for my team mates and I. Commitment and passion have fuelled us through the difficult moments, injuries and given us grit in the face of defeat. 14 months ago, I got spotted by a scout from Kenya Airways who connected me to Boeing commercial airplanes company who are the official sponsors of the NFL Seattle Seahawks team, the team that won the 2013 super bowl.

Our activities as a local American football team have attracted media attention. We have been...Read more

Engineering: The life 'flavour'

By Awino Fredrick.

Take a moment and meditate about life. What keeps you moving strongly and healthily? Of course most, if not all, of us will give credit to the environmental and agricultural fabrics, with engineering flavor. Talk of lucrative income, healthy living strategies, protection of humanity from harsh climate and unsafe habitat then for sure our physical fitness, among other good living phenomena. Clearly evident shall be the unmeasurable positive contribution of engineering engagements to the societal harmony.

You don't want to imagine of how you would be without your skeletal system. Is it really possible anyway? Environmental hygiene and proper agricultural practices are the congruent of human skeleton in our habitat. The engineering bit comes in to fix any shortcomings of the above fabrics to facilitate healthy conformity to the contemporary needs...Read more

EBE Registration!: Accredition of Environment and Biosystems Engineering degree programme

By Christine N. Muchemi.

The stalemate between the University of Nairobi's department of Environmental and Biosystems Engineering (EBE) and the Engineer's Board of Kenya (EBK) formerly known as the Engineering Registration Board (ERB) has been in existence for the past eleven years since the programme was approved and setup in the University..

Since 2003, graduates from this department have walked out of the University to the grim reality that out there in the market, they are not recognized as engineers. Many therefore end up pursuing different careers altogether or settling to be technicians in existing engineering firms without the hope of ever climbing the career ladder.

So, where exactly does the problem lie and what exactly is it?...Read more

Geospatial Will Defend Itself!

By Chelal Evans Kimutai.

"Many good things are resisted in this country..." Professor Mulaku uttered in a soft voice. The debate continues as to whether Geospatial Engineering should or will be registered by the Engineers Board of Kenya.

BSc. Geospatial Engineering was adopted as the new name for the BSc. Surveying program in 2004, having gone through various transitions over couple of decades. Having begun in the 1950's as 'BSc Surveying', later changed to 'BSc in Surveying and Photogrammetry' in 1971, the department got tired of the "disruptive" technologies as the industry evolved and matured to one of the mainstream business with an identity in world economy, and therefore stopped giving names of the course to the tools used.

The geospatial industry is currently going through substantial changes and these are starting to ...Read more

The Stand-Off

By Makokha Michael Simiyu.

In the recent past, there have beenprotests by engineering students at diverse institutions in our country, the bone of contention being the nonaccreditation of their engineering programmes by the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK), the body legally mandated to regulate the engineering industry in Ke nya by virtue of the Engineers Act (2012); even some court cases have been lodged over the same. The EBK cited some reasons for its refusal to accredit, and some of them were clearly valid, such as degree segmentation,inadequate teaching staff staff and inadequate laboratories. In some cases however, it would appear that the EBK sits in a time warp, refusing to acknowledge the evolution that the field of engineering has undergone over the years; one such is the case of Geospatial Engineering. ...Read more

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