On December 12th 2009, at his request, the President of the Republic of Uganda paid an official visit to the College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology, MakerereUniversity where he toured selected on-going innovative projects. Subsequently, he invited a delegation of representatives from the projects he had visited to state house on December 28, 2009 to present project proposals to Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and other Technocrats from line Ministries. The President then issued a directive for the Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Education and Sports, and the Ministry of Finance, to financially support the Innovations at the College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology to a tune of UGX 25 Billion spread over a Five Year Period with UGX 5 Billion committed in the Financial Year Starting July 2010.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has on several occasions visited Makerere University, the major hub of the countries intellect, and has developed particular interest in College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology. The visits and particular interest have been stemmed from the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
The MDG annual report 2009 notes that: Countries will need to recognize the benefits from advances in science and technology and develop strategies to harness the explosion in new knowledge; and Technological innovation and the associated institutional adjustments underpin long-term growth and must be at the centre of any strategy to strengthen the private sector.
Over the past 10 years, the College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology has institutionalized research and innovation in her programmes. Many under-graduate students have produced very interesting prototypes of machines and implements, while PhD students and senior researchers have made innovations with the potential for transformation of our societies, especially the rural communities. However, there are constraints with resources, mainly modern research and teaching labs.
The Presidential Innovations Fund for College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology was then adopted by the Government of Uganda as part of its strategy to build the country’s scientific and technological capacity to facilitate its development efforts on a sustainable basis. It is a UGX 25 billion five-year project financed by the Government of and implemented by College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology through ten projects.
The ten key advanced projects highlight the potential of triggering an innovation process to propel Uganda into a real knowledge economy and the industrial world. These target human resource development, research to increase production, transfer of technologies between Higher Education Institutions and communities and increased relevance and knowledge generation by the College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology, Makerere University.
The project is to finance high quality research, undergraduate science and engineering programmes, academia- private sector partnerships, student internships, science policy and popularization of science in schools and the communities.
The Innovations Fund will contribute towards increasing and retaining a pool of highly trained professional scientific and engineering manpower with relevant skills to meet the country’s development needs; improved research infrastructure; modern and well equipped laboratories, online laboratories, improved automation with advances in electrical vehicles, increased use of research outputs by the industrial firms and appropriate channels through which firms will become aware of the available skills to propel a technology-led, competitive development process. It will also enhance the understanding and appreciation of the role of science and technology in the development process, especially among the young generation.
There are currently 10 projects in the College of Engineering, Art, Design and Technology under the Presidential Innovations program. These include;