•It was a dream come true — The 7 aspiring engineers
By Obialunamma Nwadiogbu
EKWULOBIA—VICE Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka , Prof. Joseph Ahaneku is a happy man now following the feat achieved by his students. This was because the Department of Mechanical Engineering of the university had again proved that it was not just good in theory but also in the practical aspect of their studies. Seven graduating students from the department constructed a “made in Nigeria” mini bus to the satisfaction of the university community.
The journey into car manufacturing in the university started last year, when a group of five students from the same department produced a Formula 1 car called AutoZIK. The seven students include Ezeigwe Chitoo, Obinani Victor, Ezeanolue Ifeanyi, Okoro Chinaza, Ominigbo Fidelis, Nwobodo Nnamdi and Ogbu Thaddeus.
They were supervised by the Head of the department, Dr. C.H. Achebe. South East Voice learned that the group, which is known as ‘AUTOZIK II,’ spent over five months constructing the mini bus for shuttles within and around the university with locally sourced materials.
Like the popular saying, “What a man can do, a woman can do even better,” the conspicuous presence of a female, ‘Okoro Chinaza’ in the team spoke volumes. On how she was able to surmount the challenges as the only female in the midst of her male counterparts with respect to the stress associated with such herculean tasks, she said: “I had always been in their midst right from my first year in school, so it was not really a big deal.”
She disclosed that she had always followed her passion regardless of what people around said or thought. Narrating the success story, one of the engineers, Ezeigwe Chitoo, said that the project was a dream come true. “The Autozik group made the design using CAD software, and all necessary simulation softwares for the analysis, putting the environment into critical consideration. The bus has good seating positions, better fuel conservation, good passenger view and very good aesthetics. It was built to suit the topography of our environment and the weather condition we have in this part of the world,” he said.
According to him, the bus was constructed from start to finish, inside the mechanical workshop of the university. He disclosed that the project was aimed at advancing the ergonomic standard of existing shuttle buses. The bus can be compared to other foreign produced ones and it is outstanding. Also speaking, a member of the team, Ifeanyi said: “The AUTOZIK team had gone through a whole lot before arriving at this platform. When we started, many thought we will not come this far, but today they have come to rejoice with us.
“We thank God, who has brought us this far, we also thank our supervisor and the Head of Department Dr. C.H. Achebe, for his fatherly advice and support throughout the duration of the project,” he happily said. The bus was test-driven within and outside the university to prove that it was movable, durable and above all, fully made in Nigeria. Some of the students of the department, in an interview, commended the efforts of Dr. Achebe and his team of lecturers, who, according to them, were doing great job, by igniting the spirit and the zeal of invention and innovation in Nigeria.
They also commended the Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Ihueze Toochukwu, who, they said, had brought huge improvement to the Faculty of Engineering and re-branding the system. The team further praised the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ahaneku, who according to them, had changed the face of the institution, wiped out examination malpractice and improved the standard of learning. According to Chitoo, Ahaneku’s support for the Faculty of Engineering had increased the zeal for invention and ingenuity in the faculty.