Holiday Robotics Training

In early September 2016, I got another opportunity to mentor a group of young people from Gulu in Mobile application development during the Holiday Robotics Training organized by Oysters & Pearls - Uganda at their Gulu town premises. Running for two weeks, this training covered areas like Video Game Design, Robotics and Electronics, Minecraft and Mobile Applications Development. Unlike the January camp, this training was not residential and participants attended from Monday to Saturday between 8AM to 5PM. 

A day before the official start of the training, mentors made preparations and arranged the different equipment to be used. It had been 7 months since I was last in Gulu and I couldn’t help but notice in awe the progress Oysters and Pearls had made in regards to their Maker Space - all thanks to Sandra Washburn for her love, dedication and motivation in equipping tech-savvy young people with technological skills to aid them become the change makers this nation needs.

The Maker Spa…

Significance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Uganda’s education system.

Uganda’s worst nightmares like poverty and unemployment have been normally traced back to the poor education system of the country over the past years. The education system being more theoretical than practical and occasional reference to real life experiences and scenarios. Solutions have been pointed out and adopted, yet the problem still exists.    In 2005, the Ugandan government made science subjects compulsory to all secondary school students. The move was aimed at producing more practical professionals that would transform Uganda from a developing to a middle income country through technological and scientific innovations. The performance of core sciences at O’Level is very poor for example the majority of students who sat for the UNEB examinations between 2005– 2008 scored failures in the core sciences with physics being the worst performed. Only just two years ago in 2014, the UNEB board noted that the performance in science and Math was worrying and it’s because of the way stu…

STEM - Introduction

I am Phyllis Nassuna Ntananga, a 22 old final year student of the Bachelor of Information Technology program at Mbarara University of Science and Technology, Mbarara. I have a keen interest in Computer Software Programming as well as an equally strong enthusiasm for Engineering and Robotics. For the bigger part of my time at this university, I have participated in several local and global computer technology-themed innovation challenges and competitions. I have as well as volunteered in as many ICT focused initiatives More recently, I took part as a trainer in the Africa Code Week, a program organized by Google that was aimed at introducing primary school children to computer programming using a software called Scratch by volunteering students and ICT professionals. Personally, I discovered that this was a great experience for the school children at the two the schools we went to. These children showed so much excitement when we introduced the program that at the end of each 1-2 hour s…

Journey to Innovation

When I reported to university for my first year, I knew what program I was going to do and I always answered the question “...which program are you planning on doing?” quite well. If by any chance anyone had asked me about the kinds of activities or skills my program contained, that would have been the end of me had it been an admission question. Strangely, in my Secondary Level I had hated computers and anything was concerned with them. Yet, here I was, going to do a Computer Science program. The first week involved Fresher Orientation and was really hard for me, having to  be in the computer lab and failing to even power on a computer.

Soon, all that changed. This was when I first heard of the Google Student Ambassador program at the MUST. Out of curiosity, I often wondered what it takes to be a Google Student Ambassador and this is what opened my eyes, my capabilities and most importantly, my love for technology. I really wanted to know what it would take me to become an ambassador…

Robotics Camp by Oysters & Pearls - Uganda

On a very hot Thursday in the first week of January 2016, I hopped on a bus headed for Gulu. I was super excited. It was my first time to go to the North. Naturally, I had all the imaginations anyone could have about an entirely new place. The journey was long but to my surprise I was awake the whole, thanks to the fear of missing out on the adventure. I saw different things like rare fruits that we barely have in the Central or Western region of the country. With sights of the Karuma Bridge, one of the many beautifully nature that God blessed Uganda with. Before sunset, we were in Gulu town for the Robotics Camp.

That evening, the trainers that had arrived for the camp all gathered to be taken through the materials and resources that were going to be used for the next two weeks in the camp. As a software developer without much knowledge in hardware/embedded systems, most of the terms and materials were so new to me - stuff like the PCDuino, Arduino, Breadboard, Linker Shield and so ma…

Kids into developing Technologies

What was your experience during school and while growing up? Well, mine was not so different from the many Ugandans’ of my times and before. The school curriculum included Mathematics, English, and Social Studies and Science including other activities like Physical Exercises and outside school, I would learn how to do house chores.  All I had to think about was the four subjects, who to play with and when to play. Problems were for the grown-ups and they were the ones to solve them.

Then, none or just one person in the whole society owned a mobile phone which was mostly likely to be a company phone as Technology was just in its initial stages of development. Computers were owned by very big companies if not only the government ministries. Communication was through letters if not physical. And data in schools, businesses, hospitals, police stations and banks was recorded on and stored in hard copy,  usually a huge stack of papers in enormous box files. If I was to ask, what was the first…

Ideation Camp At MUST

Outbox brings the Intel Ideation Camp to the West; an exciting way to begin the weekend with guidance through innovation and Entrepreneurship by trainers from Outbox to the youth in ICS Mbarara University of Science and Technology. 
The Intel Ideation Camp is a 2 days long workshop in which participants go through the learning process to ideate, innovate and imagine solutions to identified problems.

It started with a speech from the institute director, aimed at guiding the youth through coming up with ideas that solve a problem that is faced by the many Ugandans, with the excitement and vigor  among the students to find out what happens, students were taken through a step by step journey.

Students identified themselves as hackers, hustlers or artists to form teams. Choosing a particular sector from agriculture, health and education, they listed the different problems selecting one most pressing problem among the many with a broader understanding of the user that is most affected by the p…