Research & Devt: Covenant varsity is building mini car – Ocheja Joseph
By Ebele Orakpo
Engineer Ocheja Joseph is a senior technologist in the Mechanical Engineering Department of Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State. His unit deals with fabrication. In this chat with Vanguard Learning in his office, Ocheja speaks on his current project which is a four-wheel auto car, saying that if Nigeria must move forward, the private sector should move ahead of government. Excerpts:
“As technologists, we try to produce things that will help the university to be independent. Right now, I am working on a four-wheel Covenant University branded mini car,” he said.
“It was an inspiration by God. It is going to be the first of its kind in this country. I want to say that a country that wants to be really independent has to look on the inside and see the people and resources it has that will make it truly great. We are not waiting for the government anymore; we have to move ahead of the government. So I came up with the four-wheel branded vehicle.
“In fact, someone walked in here and said it is an elder brother to Keke Marwa (tricycle), but this is not a tricycle. Also, why I came up with this four-tyre stuff is just to give it balance because the Keke Marwa is not well balanced. When you have one tyre at the front and two at the back, it is not balanced at all. So for balancing and for more passengers, I came up with the four-wheel mini car,” he said.
“After I produced the design and made everything ready, I submitted it to the Research Committee of the university. They looked at it, saw the viability, the pros and cons and engineering hindrances that may occur and they returned it to me. I did some adjustments and came up with a neat paper which I presented to them. The school then released grant for me to go on with the project. That was just last December and I think I have started making a mark. I am still in the process of production,” he stated.
“I want to mention here that when you talk about the finished product, the things that we bought from the market are the tyres and engine only because presently, Nigeria does not produce any engine anywhere. And even, when you look at our cars, it is not just one company that produces everything. There are companies that produce headlights, some produce batteries, some produce tyres etc.
“They bring these things and couple them together. Then you may have a link company like Toyota set-up that has where they produce the parts and then bring everything into the Toyota Manufacturing company and couple them together. That is what happens outside there. We cannot run away from that so I have bought the four tyres and the engine. But I am making every other thing here, putting them together to make it work.”
“It will be affordable of course. Actually, when you are producing a prototype, it is a little bit expensive but when you go into mass production, the cost drops by about 40 per cent. I have a four-stroke engine to drive the rear wheel tyre. With time, I might move the engine to the front to make it a front-wheel drive. So the cost will definitely drop by the time we start mass production. By then, I must have known how and where to get the materials cheap, how to cut the parts and make moulds for some of the parts,” he said.