A final year student at Harare Institute of Technology, Christine Juta who developed a test rig for automated driving test track system scooped the first prize in the preliminary National Engineering Students Awards Competition held on Thursday at the institution’s Belvedere campus.
NESAC is a nationwide competition that draws Zimbabwe’s best and brightest undergraduate engineering students to showcase their technical, communication and innovative skills in this challenging competition.
Juta out shined other six finalists drawn from the twelve best final year engineering students from four engineering departments at HIT.
Her system uses laser diodes to produce unidirectional beams that will be super-imposed on the road markings on a dedicated test track. The main objective of the design is to minimize the role of the human instructor in determining the result of a driving test.
Each laser diode corresponds to a light dependent resistor (LDR).
Once the motorist obstructs the laser beam, the LDR detects no light and the corresponding PIC18F452 micro-controller pin goes low, meaning the motorist has either failed to maneuver in alley docking, failed to complete the hill start, failed to successfully complete parallel parking or failed to correctly observe the traffic light.
Judges saw Juta’s innovation as fitting to be ready for commercialization since it even solves the crisis and corruption involved in Zimbabwe’s driver licensing hustles at the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID).
Using the test rig automated system will eliminate the human influence of tempering with the learner’s driving test results which has led to many being forced to pay bribes if they were to fancy their chances in obtaining a driver’s license.
Juta and three other preliminary finalists will compete against students from Chinhoyi University of Technology, National University of Science and Technology and other tertiary institutions in the national competitions.
Harare Institute of Technology were the inaugural winners of NESAC in 2014 after their final year student, Tatenda Nengiwa (female) from the Department of Chemical and Process Systems Engineering, won the first prize after beating four other contestants from the University of Zimbabwe, National University of Science and Technology and Chinhoyi University of Technology.