Wednesday, November 30, 2022

FET students manufacture flood rescue boat

The Faculty of Engineering and Technology (FET) students have designed and manufactured a floods rescuing boat. The project, which commenced last year, is complete, except for the engine, and has been tested at the University of Botswana swimming pool.

One of the project team’s leaders, Dr Robert Batane said the project the brain child of his partner, Dr. Oboetswe Motsamai, both of whom are Senior Lecturers in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

“It is a requirement that there are projects that final year students embark on. So last year we felt there was need to alleviate floods that usually come when communities are unprepared. We wanted to come up with some affordable solution and the idea of a flood boat that can be used even in shallow waters was borne,” said Dr. Batane.

The Lecturer explained that the project did not use any external funding. Each project is funded with P2000. The students he said, there after source affordable material from the institution or elsewhere, so their project’s expenditure is within the budget. A company in Tlokweng, Fibre Land, helped with the construction of the boat’s hull.

“For the engine we hoped to get a motor from the University of Botswana. Unfortunately it proved to be bigger for the boat,” he said.

About the size or the capacity of the boat, Dr. Batane said it is designed to carry six passengers, including the operator. He further explained that the capacity is just a primary design and that it can be extended.

On whether the boat is a special one, Dr. Batane said: “It is not special as an invention because our team did not invent it. But it is special in the sense that it is designed for shallow waters, though it can be used in deep waters as well. It is also not designed to move at fast speed and its cost of design makes it special-it is a low cost flood rescue boat.”

He then explained that they tested it by paddling it instead of self propelling as they still did not have the right size.

But the design has met its objective as measurements to determine the speed and the manoeuvrability of the ship have been done. The original team has since completed studies, sure of the project’s completion and another three-student team has taken over and it is hoped that they will be able to fully complete it.

Like every project, the flood rescue boat faced challenges. Inevitably, top of the list is lack of funds.

The new team is waiting to be covered by next year’s budget to embark on the completion of the project. They have decided to redesign it so that it does not use submerged propeller system but instead use the engine fan system.

The submerged propeller refers to the system where the boat would be propelled from under the water. The Botswana Defence Force rescuing boat uses this type. The fan system is where the engine fan actually propels the boat. The latter is advantageous over the former in the sense that the former cannot be effective in shallow waters.

Asked how the community can benefit from the projects the final year students at his department produce, Dr. Batane said that depended on how much the projects are needed.

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