Monday, 16 May 2016

Soon, My Solar-powered Cars ’ll Sell In Nigerian Market - OAU Graduate

Do you remember Oyeyiola Segun? You can read our interview with him in 2014. 'Oyeyiola Segun, A Student Of OAU Builds A Solar-powered Car'.

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In a recent interview with Ronke Sanya of the Nigerian Tribune, Segun Oyeyiola talked about the present state of the solar-powered car which he invented in 2014 and the new projects he is presently working on.

You made headlines in 2014 when you converted a Volkswagen Beetle car, using mainly scrap, into a solar-powered car which you drove around Ile-Ife town, where is that car now?
The solar car which I made in 2014 is presently undergoing some upgrading process. I describe the solar car as ‘model one’ and it is presently in my workshop. Right now, we are upgrading. We are upgrading it, both in the chassis and its main electronics components. After we are done with the upgrading, it will be called the ‘model two.’ It is a form of upgrading whereby we will not use scrap as materials but materials that are much better.

Owing to your innovation, you made headlines in the media, what has the experience been like?
I felt really excited and fulfilled that my work was celebrated by a lot of people. And, yes, different people have contacted me and shown interest in partnering with me. The interesting part is that some of them are ready and willing to work with me. Some are ready to supply some key parts for the car like the high quality batteries, solar module, and so on. I feel good and strongly believe in teamwork which can come in any form.

Many people are of the opinion that the car would not last long because of the popular notion that made in Nigeria products are of low quality. Is your solar car still functioning?
People’s opinion and their beliefs sometimes may be wrong. Let me give you an example. While I was still an undergraduate of Electronics and Electrical Engineering at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, I was able to study few electronic devices that are products from other countries. After a close study of these products which many Nigerians believe will last longer than Nigerian made ones, I noticed that the products were inferior. I discovered that, if used, these devices will not perform as effectively as they are supposed to, and will not last long too. I was able to notice this because of my expertise in the field of engineering. Therefore, my opinion is that, not all made in Nigeria products are substandard; also, not all foreign products are of good quality. The solar car I made is presently in good condition and functioning well. I am currently upgrading it using better technology and, yes, it will last long because we keep improving on it and we are bringing in novel technology.

What is your plan towards making more of that prototype of solar powered car, in view of the clamour for cars that maximise fuel consumption?
My model cars are a future project. Our plan is to make more prototypes available to whoever desires to have one. Our plan is for the future where you will be able to decide which car you want to buy whether the one that runs on our traditional fuel or the one that runs on pure renewable energy. So, it’s a project for the future and will be optional for those interested to choose.

Why did you choose to upgrade the car?
The upgrading was necessary due to the fact that the ‘model one’, that is, the solar car, was made from what I can call ‘crude implements.’ The Volkswagen Beetle was an abandoned car and the other metals I used were from scrap. I also had to upgrade in order to come into commercialising my idea into something that the public can benefit from. Although, it might appear like a long term project but I believe, with time, we will ride solar cars on the streets of Nigeria. A day will come when our traditional cars will become things of the past while our cars will run on renewable energy.

Do you think if you make more of your solar-powered car, Nigerians will buy them?
The Federal Government has a great role to play in encouraging Nigerians to buy made in Nigeria products. This is because there are many Nigerians who make good products but do not enjoy good patronage. Nigerians are not patronising made in Nigeria products. The present campaign by the Federal Government called BUYNAIJA is a good idea. But for it to work, the government has to continue to sensitise the public on the importance of patronising made in Nigeria products for our economy. On whether Nigerians will buy my solar-powered car, I believe that after we are done with the present upgrading which the model car is going through, and after satisfying the required standard to build the cars, Nigerians will buy them.

What are the new innovations in the offing?
I am an engineer that is passionate about generating power in a dynamic way. What I am working on presently, although I won’t like to disclose the concept entirely, is on power generation. I am presently working on a power project that will benefit farmers and those in agricultural work.

What can you say is the reason behind your creativity? Did your parents nurture the interest in you from when you were young or you just took interest in engineering?
The fact is that once creativity becomes part of one’s nature, it reflects in all that one does. Of course, my parents did a lot by nurturing me when I was a kid but I naturally took interest in engineering. Throughout my study, nurturing the interest and maintaining it has been the most important thing to me.

Also, during my first year, when I met my part adviser Mr Kola Ogunba of the Department of Electronics and Electrical Engineering, OAU, he looked at me and said, “the beauty of you studying this engineering course is to be able to solve the problem of your people.” I have never forgotten that statement. It has kept me going and made me to keep trying to proffer solution to problems of many through engineering.

Also, I can’t easily forget my experience during my third year at the university. Our first lecture then was EE309 (Sound and Acoustics). Our lecturer then, Professor Osansoan introduced the course to us and at the end of the lecture, he said, “you guys should be able to build a device that can determine the speed of a car while moving on the road at a close distance to it.” We all laughed then, because we did not understand what he was saying. The class ended that day but when I got to my closet I thought deeply about what he said. For this man to say this, it means it is possible. Eventually, I built it, I was able to build a car that I can determine its speed.

Finally, my final year project was another swell experience. I designed and constructed 5KVA power inverter. After the defence, my supervisor, Dr Adeniran said, “let me advise you, don’t go home and start playing around because you are now a graduate. Keep reading textbooks and if you can’t find one; come, I will lend you.” Then, I really didn’t value those words, but now I can say confidently that those words of advice brought me this far.

What are your words of advice for young inventors who look up to you?
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a step and there is no short cut to it. Take your time to learn all that is required of you in your chosen field. Also note that in this 21st century, illiterates are not only the people who can’t read and write anymore; it also includes people who can’t unlearn to relearn. No matter what you do, make sure it does not affect the safety and peace of our society.

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  1. So interesting! Probably he do what he want. Instead of bad copywriter we have the great inventor.

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