As the world battles to find a cure to the novel Coronavirus, the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede, Owerri has gone a step further to ease the spread of the virus by fabricating an automated and manually operated hand washing and drying machine to help maintain hygiene according to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) laid down protocol.
The automated machine, which was designed and fabricated by the Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics department of the school under the supervision of the COVID-19 Response Committee was unveiled at the school premises during the week.
The Rector, Michael Arimanwa, said the management of the school deemed it necessary to protect the students and staff members who might resume after the compulsory vacation.
He said, “Our students are on holidays now and soon they will return to school, so we don’t want to encourage the spread of the virus in the school community and that is why we have come out with this wonderful innovation.”
Arimanwa disclosed that the machine would be placed at every strategic place in the school for the staff and the students to observe the frequent hand washing routine as prescribed by the NCDC. He also announced that the school would go into mass production of the machines for the benefit of the general public.
“We are not going to be selfish with it, we have planned to go into mass production of the machines. With this first one invented, it’s going to be easy for us to duplicate. Many hotels in the state need it as well as the State government; they can call on us when they need it,” he stated.
The Rector had in April launched a manually used hand sanitiser produced by the institution. The automated machine, which is powered by a solar inverter, has an automatically operated tap, dryer and automatic 20 seconds stopwatch that regulates the washing, while the manually operated machine makes use of a mechanical pedal.
According to him, the systems are constructed with about 80 per cent locally sourced raw materials. He called on both the government and private entrepreneurs including hotels, industries, churches and other institutions to partner with the school for commercial production.
Explaining the motivation behind the invention the Chairman of the six-man committee, Anderson Ezeibe, who is also the National President of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), said it was their little contribution as members of ASUP to set aside their strike to help in the fight against the pandemic.
He stated that the fight should not be left for the government alone but a collective war to saving lives, adding that the reason for fabricating the automated hand washing machine is to give equal ease of hand washing hygiene to the physically challenged in the school to observe the routine without stress.
“We believe the physically challenged are one us and we don’t want them to feel different, so we came up with the automatic washing to help them. Despite on strike, we put on hold all that we are agitating for, and put our professional competences to work to win the war against the virus,” Ezeibe said.
Prior to the unveiling, the COVID-19 Response Team had earlier presented sanitisers and soap to the school to ease the spread of the pandemic.