Inter HESN Lab collaboration positively yielding

A Team of students from Makerere University College of Engineering, Design and Art (CEDAT) participated in the Big Ideas Competition 2014-15 contest organized by University of California – Berkeley. The team which developed a Pneumonia Kit named “Mama Ope” emerged runner-up in the Global Health category and won cash prize of $6,500 to further develop their prototype. Mama-Ope team members include; Olivia Koburongo, Brian Turyabagye (Telecommunication Engineering), Besufekad Shifferaw (Computer Engineering), Viola Akangumya (Social Sciences) and Angella Namwase (Nursing and Midwifery).

The Big Ideas annual contest which is open to all HESN Universities which RAN is part of attracted participation from 19 teams representing over 50 students; from Makerere University submit proposals in the pre-proposal round of the Big Ideas Contest. The contest categories for 2015-14 included; Open Data for Development, Mobiles for Reading, Conflict & Development, Food System Innovations, Global Health. Big ideas is aimed at providing funding, support, and encouragement to interdisciplinary teams of students who have innovative solutions to address important social challenges.
Mama Ope proposes to develop a cell phone based lung-monitoring device that could be used to radically improve the early diagnosis of pneumonia. The affordability and wide availability of cell phones make them an innovative platform for the development of simple medical diagnosis capabilities for use in the field. This is especially true in under-developed countries where skilled medical practitioners and their most sophisticated devices are often thin on the ground. The cell phone based prototype, coupled with specially developed cell phone applications, will make possible a detailed analysis and preliminary diagnosis of individual lung crackles through digitized audio obtained from the patient’s chest. To ensure that the lung sounds are of sufficient signal strength, the team intends to couple the cellphone to a modified passive stethoscope. In addition, the stethoscope will be embedded in a vest to ensure continuous monitoring. Since the recorded sound can be stored on the cell phone as a digital file, it can be sent later on for expert analysis through the cloud. The final year students, who were encouraged to participate by their mentor Cosmas Mwikirize , Faculty at CEDAT and now a PhD Biomedical Engineering scholar at the State University of New Jersey, have been part of I-Labs at Mak since their second year which has nurtured them as young innovators. We wish to thank Mr. Phillip Denny for his guidance on our project and making us realize the potential of our project and its impact to our society which we truly appreciate. It was a great joy and thrill for the team when we received news that we had emerged among the winners of last year’s Big Ideas competition. The feedback from the judges, and mentors enabled us to improve our project’; Said Olivia Koburongo
Thanks to the Big Ideas team and UC Berkeley for reaching out to students like us at Makerere University in Africa we appreciate the international exposure and interaction we received through this competition. Currently we are trying to get accurate readings from the individual sensors and later will be integrated into a wearable. The work via mobile technology has commenced to create a good and user-friendly experience application. We have also presented this idea to Ericson Company where we won a cash prize of One Million shillings which will be used to fabricate the necessary parts of the device. .Hopefully we shall have our first prototype by the end of December this year. We also plan to partner up with organizations such as Save the Child, Tendo foundation to impact children’s lives in our communities. No matter how small the ideas maybe, the impact they might have to the universe is not known until the idea is brought forward to the people who it will help. We encourage everyone to put their ideas out there most probably it may save a life or improve people’s wellbeing. We all have potential to add something to the world
RAN Lab supporting young Innovators

RAN Lab has been reaching out to young innovators at universities, learning institutions, innovation hubs and actively engaging them in innovation activities to grow their capacity to be able to solve community challenges through innovation. One of the ways the Lab is supporting young innovators is mentoring them and connecting them to opportunities across the RAN and HESN network like the Big Ideas Annual competition.

Big Ideas Annual Competition open for 2015-16; Pre-proposals due November 12th 2015

This year the Big ideas at UC- Berkeley will be celebrating 10 years of supporting innovations and launched the Annual contest in September 2015 with a deadline of November, 12th 2015. We are open to all young innovators who wish to get more assistance on how to apply and participate in Big Ideas 2015-16.

“This contest is multidisciplinary and high touch,” said Phillip Denny, manager of the Big Ideas Contest. “It challenges students to step outside of their traditional university-based academic work, take a risk, and use their education, passion, and skills to work on problems important to them.”

Apply Now!! Do not hesitate to email with any questions you may have or send an e-mail to RAN on

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