Shekarau Ambi, 27, is a native of Kafanchan in Kaduna State.
He said that he had desired to be an aeronautical engineer but claimed that no institution in the country offered aeronautical engineering.
“When I finished my secondary school, I applied for so many scholarships and loans to study the course in the United States; and although I got the admission, funding became a problem.
“I had to choose the closest course to aeronautical engineering in a Nigerian university,’’ he said.
He said that he, however, went to Abubakar Tawafa Balewa University, Bauchi, to study Engineering Physics.
“I bought a Joint Admission Matriculation form and chose a course that does not focus on one engineering specifically.
“I didn’t want to go for just Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. I wanted a course that combines all; and that was Engineering Physics,’’ he said.
He said that he got the inspiration to embark on building an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) — drone — during his industrial training at College of Aviation, Zaria.
“UAV is an aircraft that operates without a human pilot on board; it can be a remote-controlled aircraft and it can fly autonomously based on pre-programmed flight plans or more complex dynamic automation systems.
“I did my industrial training between 2014 and 2015 and that was when I first saw an aircraft for at a close range.
“I wondered why none of the engineering students in the institution has been unable to make a model of an aircraft even in an old institution such as College of Aviation, Zaria.
“I then decided to embark on the project, went on studying aircraft; desirous of knowing and understanding how aircraft works and the mystery behind it.
“I went back to school after my industrial training in my final year and I chose to build an UAV (drone) as a project to complete my degree course,’’ he said.
He said that the drone project had earned him an award by the Nigerian Union of Journalists in collaboration with Abubakar Tawafa Balewa University, Bauchi in 2016.
“People came to look for the project document, some institutions came but my school declared it classified,’’ he said.
Ambi, who did in national youth service programme with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Abuja, between 2016 and 2017, said that the professional environment also assisted him to push further on the development of the UAV.
He said that he did not get any support from the government; yet scientific approach formed the platform for building the drone.
“I tried to use locally sourced materials to bring out schematic that can stand engineering specifications which I could present at any learners’ conference.
“The data script, the blueprint, the architecture, the schematic of that design is taken down and it is patentable.
“Everything about aviation is not cheap. A plane is a plane whether small or big; the same principles it obeys before it flies.
“The complexity of an aircraft makes it very difficult for an African country to say they want to develop one,’’ he said.
According to him, drone is the latest technology of the century and the strength of any country is determined by the sophistication of its drones.
“In the event of any world war again, soldiers are not going to war; It is drones that will go to war.
“The military power of a country right now is being determined by the amount and sophistication of their drones and foreign countries will not sell to us their best technology, so we have to develop,’’ he said.
Ambi said that the drone he built had been tested by NASRDA during the Science and Technology Exposition in Abuja recently.
He said it was unfortunate that the university system had not been providing necessary development in engineering as it ought to be to promote inventions.
“We solve big mathematics and get excellent marks; Nigerian universities have been producing first class students since the inception of university system without any commensurate change in the country’s development.
“For every developed country, they have to understand that it is beyond just the paper work, it depends on talents.
“Money is not the problem but it is the knowledge that is lacking. I studied engineering and I know what we were taught in school.
“The study of engineering in Nigeria is examination-centered; you just need to pass by any means whether by cramming or otherwise,’’ he observed.
Ambi said that his dream had been to see Nigeria that would develop technologies which could compete favourably among other developed nations.(NANFeatures)