THE STUDENT ENGINEER APRIL-JUNE -2016 ISSUE



Technology

Wireless Charging Technology (WCT)

By Mark Kiprotich

Since time immemorial, the technology has always advanced and it seems like it is going to sojourn advancing anytime soon. In an exertion to make life easier and much more comfortable, engineers have constantly and unceasingly designed new gadgets, equipment and machines. The electronic world has specifically technologically advanced significantly in the recent year.

Engineers and researchers developed a great interest in Wireless Power Transfer (WTP) technology, which takes advantage of magnetic resonance. The WPT device allows multiple users to charge their gadget at the same time. There are several of such devices (WTPs) in the market such as PowerMat 3X, Energizer Wireless Charger, Mobee Wireless Charger, Duracell Mygrid and Wildcharge Pad.

These gadgets utilize the fundamental principle of electrical engineering, mainly resonance coupling. The devices use resonators (transmitters and receivers) to achieve efficient wireless power transfer..

RFID TECHNOLOGY

By Mwaniki A. Ngari

Future Of Product Tracking And Identification
Imagine going any supermarket in Nairobi, filling up your cart and walking right out the door, without having to endure those long lines at the cashier. No longer waiting as someone rings up each item in your cart one at a time. This might soon be happening thanks to RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology. RFID tags on each item will communicate with an electronic reader that will detect every item in the cart and ring each up almost instantly. The reader will be connected to a large network that will send information on your products to the retailer and product manufacturers. Your bank or mobile service provider, due to the MPESA users, will then be notified and the amount of the bill will be deducted from your account .No lines, no waiting.

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) involves use of electromagnetic fields to transfer data with the goal of of identification or tracking. RFID tags contain at least two parts: an integrated circuit for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating radio signals, collecting DC power from..

The End of an Age: Laying Moore's Law to Rest

By Mwendwa Kiko

Its the most famous law that you've never heard of. Or maybe you have, you just didn't know its name. But whether you have or you haven't, it's important to you. It's the thing that's governed the advance of the technological world for the last half century, giving you your flat screen TV, your smart-phone, your laptop. It's called Moore's law.

Moore's Law can be stated as 'the number of transistors on a microprocessor chip will double every two years or so.' This is what has fuelled the aggressive advancements in computing, since more transistors on chips means faster processors and hence more computations that your computer can execute in parallel. Simply stated, as the number of transistors on a chip gets larger, the speed and computational power of that chip increase.

But Moore's Law isn't an inevitable result of natural forces and processes. It's a selffulfilling prophecy, perhaps the greatest self-fulfilling prophecy in history. It works because the microprocessor industry makes sure that it does, through roadmap released every two years or so...

All About the Silicon Savannah

By Editorial Team

The big green Konza Techno City bus came rolling by Taifa Hall on Tuesday the 23rd February, this time in the shape of a discussion on the role of the role of universities in building Kenya's innovation ecosystem. The all-star panel was made up of Eng. John Tonui, the CEO of the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA); Mr. Joe Ogutu, director of innovation at Safaricom; Prof. Bitange Ndemo, School of Business; and Dr. Tony Omwansa, the director of the Chiromo C4D lab. Their discussion was preceded by a speech given by none other than the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, Prof. Peter Mbithi, in which he discussed the importance of the day's talk in the larger framework of the Nairobi Innovation Week. This is a UON initiative whose 2016 edition is slated for the 3rd-5th August 2016.

The keynote speech was delivered by Eng Tanui. In it, he spoke of how necessary it is to properly link industry and academia for an economy to grow and be successful. The 215 Global Economic IndexReport ranked Switzerland as first overall in terms of innovation, worldwide. (In the same list Kenya ranked 92nd). This achievement..

Open Source Technology

By Mwaniki A Ngari

Shaping The Future of Software
Shaping the future of Software The fact that Android currently commands almost 82% of the global smartphone market with over 1.1 billion Android powered smartphone units having been shipped into the world market in the last year alone has brought the debate on the open source vs. proprietary software debate to the fore.

The fact that 78% of the companies are currently running on open source software whose use has nearly doubled in the last four years and 61% of users believe that open source software is on the rise. Furthermore, Red Hat a open source Linux operating system is the fastest growing server OS

For open source based software, its code is available to anyone for customization and modification from its original design. This gives a chance to developers to improve its source code and share it with the open source community. Open Source software tends to be more secure since more people are able see and test the code hence any flaws are detected and fixed quickly such as the Linux Kernel..

Winter is Here- Innovate or Die

By Lewis Sakwa

I have written before on this forum. War is an incentive to creativity. In the struggle to survive, men tend to wield their last energies. They, like the others before them tie up the last effort with the Samsonic act- the last resort. In such an act, it is either a win or perish situation. This has been my perception of the times and experiences at the University. Tragedies alongside others. Acts of valor from the last resort, triumph and songs, disasters and regrets. But importantly this has built up a more coherent society weaned far too early and exposed into the harsh realities of life but growing stronger in resilience, with power and focus.

This is the story of the University Of Nairobi School Of Engineering. It is the struggle to gain momentum, to be a model school to the rest and provide an alternative path to the training of students going into the market. Unlike other places where there is a constant supervisory authority hovering over the student, it a norm to give liberty to the University of Nairobi scholars. This has led them astray occasionally but has kept them right on course in the struggle to maintain and keep a legacy..

FEATURES

GIS And Engineering

By Prof. G.C. Mulaku

1. Geospatial data, information and information systems.
Data are facts and figures that are collected, managed and used in most fields of human endeavour; we therefore often hear about population data, rainfall data, employee data, etc. Data that are referenced to a spatial location in geographic space are known as geospatial data; so, data about a road, a forest, an air route, etc are all geospatial since the features concerned are all geographical. Other data are said to be non-spatial, for example data about people's salaries, stock market shares, etc. Information is what results from processing data; for example the coordinates defining the boundary of a land parcel, which are of little interest to the land owner, can be processed into the parcel's area, which is of much meaning to the said owner. An information system is one in which data is input and processed and information is output. Many people are familiar with management information systems that deal with non-spatial data and are used for general administration and business; a good example is the student management information system at the university..

GIS And Agriculture

By Chelal Evans Kimutai

It wasn't until I was approached by a friend, after learning I was a Geospatial Engineer, many would call us surveyors, that my interest in "GIS & agriculture" was aroused. It was at this time that many questions raced my mind and many visits were made to my lecturers.

My friend, is a farmer. A business man dealing in food. He has about 7 acres; 2 acres and 5 acres in Athi River and Kitengela respectively. In these parcels of land, he faithfully does his chili and he's flourishing to say the least. With the demand surpassing his supply, he wants to expand his chili business to large acres of land...

Now, wait a minute. Why Chili? What criteria did he use to come to the conclusion that Chili will do as well as it did in the previous parcels of land? Might there be certain crops that would do much better than chili in that area? What if they were? He's a business man, can he maximize the land, grow other crops and make double the profits?..

All these musings did not leave me, and at that time, I had no answer. I planned to perform a topographical survey..

GIS

By Winny Cherono

It is an acronym for Geographic Information System. A special kind of information system distinguished by its use of spatially referenced data. GIS can also be defined as a computer based information system with the following components:

1. Data input - manual digitization or scanning.
2. Data management - data storage, updating, retrieval, backup, exchange and archiving.
3. Data manipulation, analysis and modeling.
4. Data and information output and dissemination.

It was developed in the late 1960's primarily as an environmental application and currently it acts as a Decision Support System (tool) with wide applications e.g. Land Management, Disaster Response, Business Development, Farm management, Pest/Disease tracking, Crop monitoring, Yield prediction and Soil analysis..

Web GIS

By ESRI Eastern Africa Team

In order to make services available to others outside the organization one requires web GIS and web GIS applications. Web GIS can be definedas any GIS that uses web technology to communicate between a server and a client where the server is a GIS server and the client is a web browser, desktop application, or mobile application.

A GIS basically consists of Hardware, Software, data and users. In the past these component were joined together in one computer with the development of web GIS these components don't need to be located in one place. A GIS user can access a server located on the other side of the globe. ArcGIS offers various ways to make GIS available through web services. These options include ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS Online, and Portal for ArcGIS.

By utilizing the Internet to access information Web GIS possess distinct advantages over traditional desktop GIS. These include:

Easy to use: Web GIS is intended for a broad audience, including public users who may know nothing about GIS. They expect web GIS to be as easy as using a regular website. Web GIS is commonly designed for..

USE OF GIS TO MAP POLUTION OF NAIROBI RIVER

By Saraflora Sakwa Chachalia

The word Nairobi came from a Masai word 'enairobe' which means "a place of cool waters" The origin of this name was attributed to the three rivers which feed the Nairobi area that include Ngong, Mathare and Nairobi. The cool waters and serene environs made it a suitable place for early settlers to make camp. Trading activities increased due to this and slowly the city became the very heartbeat of Kenya. The saddening part is that the very reason of its existence is at the mercy of water and general environmental pollution causing a huge disruption of the natural ecosystem. The four rivers still flow through Nairobi but due to immense pollution over the past century caused by rapid industrialization and increased human settlement, the rivers are confused to be open sewerage.

A geographic information system(GIS) can be use to address this problem with the aid of a proper application tool whereby whereby various patterns in the pollution cycle can be detected and locations with high pollution rates can be established. This is highly supported by the fact that a GIS is computer based system that supports the study of..

KENYA LAND-BASED APPROACH TO CLIMATE CHANGE: RESILIENCE THROUGH SUSTAINABLE LAND MANAGEMENT

By Saraflora Sakwa Chachalia

PREAMBE:
Kenya welcomes the General Assembly's adoption of the post-2015 development agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 (SDGs) and targets, in particular target 15.3 and recognizes that achieving national Land degradation neutrality (LDN) targets would significantly contribute to all three dimensions of sustainable development via the rehabilitation, conservation and sustainable management of land resources. Water Harvesting, Storage and Land Reclamation is one of the functions of the Ministry of Water and Irrigation (MWI) as drawn from the "Organization of the Government, Executive Order No. 2/2013" dated 20th May, 2013, and Assignment of Ministerial Functions OP/CAB/26 of 30/06/2015 and 23/07/2015". The function is also drawn from International Definition; "Land degradation neutrality is a state whereby the amount and quality of land resources necessary to support ecosystem functions and services and enhance food security remain stable or increase within specified temporal and spatial scales and ecosystems"..

What is GIS?

By Saraflora Sakwa Chachalia

What is GIS? This is probably the most asked question posed to those in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) field and is probably the hardest to answer. Esri has defined GIS as a computer-based tool for mapping and analyzing things that exist and events that happen on earth. GIS technology integrates common database operations such as query and statistical analysis with the unique visualization and geographic analysis benefits offered by maps.
The history of GIS and spatial analysis dates back to Dr. John Snow who in 1854 helped identify the source of a cholera outbreak in London. Results of the study revealed that contaminated water from one of the major pumps was the main source of the cholera outbreak. The map that Dr. John Snow came up with was the first documented case that linked occurrences such as disease to geographic locations.

The first GIS was created by first GIS was created by Dr. Roger Tomlinson and then introduced in the early 1960s in Canada. During its inception, this system was mainly meant for collecting, storing and then analyzing the capability & potential which the land in the rural areas had..

INDUSTRY

Drilling

By Wreford Momanyi

Many may think that drilling in Kenya begun recently with the 'advent' of the Turkana oil, but drilling has been with us for over two decades. As other parts of the world may think of drilling/petroleum engineering to be a rather old profession, in Kenya this is a career that is gaining popularity among young students looking for career paths. Its popularity arises from the data from various sites ranking petroleum engineering as among the most rewarding professions. Evens as universities rush to quench this demand, will the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) approve this? What does this field entail? What are its job prospects? Drilling refers to excavation/ digging the earth in search of naturally occurring products like geothermal steam, oil, gas and other minerals.

Drilling is a rather expensive and probabilistic operation. Before drilling, research and surveys are done concerning the mineral. For instance in drilling of steam, geo-physicists and geo-chemists carry out tests on the rocks from different sites until they find a location where they predict there might be steam. These predictions ought to have a high degree of accuracy and precision since this is a rather expensive operation. For instance, the average cost of drilling one..

INTERVIEW

Profile Lecturer - Mr. Sammy Matara

By Wreford Momanyi and Evans Chelal

Who is Mr. Matara?
Mr. Matara is a Graduate Assistant at the department of Geospatial Engineering and Space Technology in the University of Nairobi, with ambitions of becoming a full time lecturer. He holds a First Class Honors in Geospatial Engineering, a Second Level Specializing Masters in 'Navigation and Related Applications' from Politecnico di Torino (Polytechnic University of Turin), Italy where he graduated with an honors in 2014 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at the University of Nairobi. He is married to Ruth Muchira and both have been blessed with a beautiful daughter.

Why opt to lecture?
(With a broad smile) Mr. Matara draws his strong love for lecturing from the words, "teachers never grow old". He insists that daily interaction with young and ambitious minds is a path of continuous growth and learning since one is always up to date with current trends, information and technology. He further compares some of his lecturers who seem to be aging gracefully.

"I found myself in engineering"
Says Mr. Matara. After bursting into laughter he admitted that engineering wasn't his first choice. His heart was in..

SOCIAL COMMENTARY

Leadership in Africa: Need for Stronger Institutions

By Kevin Odongo

A story is told about three bricklayers: The first one when asked what he is doing replies," I am laying bricks" The second one answers "I am building a wall" Yet the third one ripostes, I am building an hospital that hopefully will save lots of lives" This shows the different kinds of leaders we have in Africa. Some think very narrowly, a lot think just enough, while very few think and act on the bigger picture in their leadership: Building their countries for prosperity.

Weak institutions are part of the problem that has made leadership in Africa more challenging than in the rest of the world. An African may rise to a position of power and very well declare themselves holders of those positions for life, because of very weak and easily compromised institutions. Case in point is the recent disturbances in Burundi where the president is running for office for the third time in total disregard of the constitution. The vice president of the constitutional court had Leadership in Africa: Need for Stronger Institutions court had to flee the country due to death threats and the rights of the citizens have been trampled on with the closing of independent radio stations, blocking of instant messaging and social media. If this country had strong institutions with patriotic enforcers, there wouldn't be such..

No One Wants It Half-baked!!

By Kevin Odongo

Growing up in the rural parts of western Kenya, I had the pleasure of having my grandma close by. In fact every day I would go to her place from primary school for lunch which in most cases consisted of sweet potatoes and Uji.

Now it is six years since we lost her but I still remember how she made her potatoes. She would dig them from the Shamba about 2kms away from home, carry just enough for two days, wash them clean, throw them into a traditional pot with just enough water, put a polythene bag in so that it floated but covered all the potatoes, before covering the whole thing with an heavy lid.

If you have tried cooking sweet potatoes before, you will agree with me that it is an art that is not as easy as taking a walk in the park. There are high chances that your potatoes will come out half-cooked or overcooked. When overcooked, they are too soft and have absorbed a lot of water. So you want to put in just the right amount of water. When you put in less than enough water, the potatoes do not cook enough. And if one opens the lid to put in more water..

Can You Rescue Your Possibilities From The Impossible?

By Achola Kevin

The Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) has adopted a new constitution. The new dispensation will see the institution get its first president in April 2016. Amongst the many changes resulting from this initiative include, expanded membership classes, which now include engineering technologists and technicians. The new constitutional framework provides the chance for a more open and robust institution.

The process resulting in new officials is a political process in as much as within the engineering establishment, 'liking politics' is most times frowned upon. This is besides numerous accomplished politicians within the engineering fraternity. Politics is the art and practice of influence over people and events with the objective of influencing the distribution of power and resources within a given group usually hierarchically organized population as well as the interrelationships between different groups. The current demented definition of politics in Kenya is organising ones tribe against another's' tribe, then placing a cabal of corrupt tribal 49 oligarchs at the head of such an organisation. This is a very narrow and dangerous way to look at politics and it is no way for an Engineer to look at the world..

Innovation- And The Wind Of Change

By Waswa Sakwa

The Economic Slip.
Few things that are abhorred by the current crop of Kenyan engineers- Politics so they say. That that is not one of their great interests. But most saddening, they are closed in their professional shell of the engineering world. A micro scale ecosystem whose survival in a country muddled and as corrupt as the Kenya we live in is depended on the very things that they either shun or claim to fear, That said, I must make sure that these lines I write are fully secured from the after thought of being political sentiments.

However I find it rather compelling to write to my old friends- and young ones as well, lest the time bomb of our professional enclosure comes landing upon our generation. Clear be my intentions, now and in time to come that I shall be joining this fraternity of engineers sooner than some of them imagine. Yet I feel audacious enough to bungle your comfort zone.

I do see the same things they see; in black, white and in shades of grey. They, however, out of the wisdom that comes with age-laden with moderate discretion and discrete moderation choose to keep quiet..

ESA

Accounts of the First ever School of Engineering Open Day

By Mark Kiprotich & Mercy Nduati

The Mood
12th March, 2016 - the Central Catering Unit (CCU) and the Chancellor's Court in University Sports Ground was packed to capacity as early as 11.00am. The various groups of students, lecturers, organizers and guests were all in different moods. The students appeared to be muddled at the various School of Engineering stands, most of them had never seen such kind of exhibition projects that were being displayed at the stands, and they had no idea that the School of Engineering of the best University in South of Sahara and North of River Limpopo was well equipped with stateof- the-art equipment. Thelecturers as well as the organizers wore a fidgety face, at least before the 11.00am when there was very little activity. The participants of the various engineering exhibitions and competition were anxious, trying to breathe an air of confidence. In the field, the air was invigorated by our very own Dj Sharly, the finalists of the ESA tournament were full of beans as they could be seen hitting the ground so hard. At around 11.30am, the judges arrived and immediately began their daunting business of separating the men from the boys with respect to their projects, asking the participants at the stands thoughtprovoking questions about their projects..