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Zimbabwe University Students Produce Crafty Scientific Innovations

Part of Mavis Marange's cooking stand invention on display at an exhibition in Zimbabwe. (Photo: Arthur Chigoriwa)

It's that time of the year when university students showcase their inventions which can translate into money-spinning projects.

But some final year students who are exhibiting their work to the public as part of their practical examinations say lack of funds is hampering their innovations.

One of the projects on display is a cooking stove stand invented by Chinhoyi University of Technology Fine Arts student, Mavis Marange.

Marange's adjustable multi-purpose cooking stand, she says, was inspired by Zimbabwe's popular three-legged pot.

She says the stand would end challenges faced by thousands of rural women, who since time immemorial, have been using what some may term unreliable cooking stands that sometimes break under the weight of cooking utensils.

To compound their problem of the small and easily-broken cooking stands, which are molded mainly out of earthly-mud, the rural cooking stands are largely small and designed to cater for big gatherings.

Maranga says her adjustable multi-purpose cooking stand will change all that. But she's worried the project may fail to kick off due to lack of funds.

Last week she was forced to use cardboard boxes as material to construct the cooking stand for the exhibition instead of the expensive prototype materials of brass and steel iron.

“Already it can be marketable. What is needed is money to make the actual prototype … It can be marketable at the stage it is right now it's a complete project its unfortunate I presented it using a model,” she says.

Marange says her adjustable multi-purpose cooking stand project was inspired by the popular rural three legged pot used mainly in the rural areas. She thinks it can solve the cooking problem faced by most rural women though it does not eliminate the use of firewood.

According to the student, the multi-purpose cooking stand is adjustable to the height of the user. It has wheels to reduce the labor of carrying pots and varies in size to suit the number of people to be catered for.

“The adjustable multi-purpose cooking stand has three stages, you can adjust it to a suitable position for the user and the stand has also wheels which can be used on all terrains to reduce the labour of carrying the pots from one area to the other. You just push the cooking stand using the handles and the wheels can be locked,” says

Chinhoyi University of Technology Art Department lecturer, Dr. Misheck Bere, praises the university's drive for innovation among its students.

“Chinhoyi University of Technology thrives to come up with programmes that answer to the needs of the nation and to the need of our industry,” he says.

Dr. Bere says the university will soon introduce a new program in industrial design and innovation that will equip students with skills to become employers and not workers.

“These programmes are designed to create students who will not only work as employees but we hope after they study these programmes they are able to perhaps challenge what is happening in the industry and if possible they will come up with their own industries and they are able to become employers.”

Marange also displayed another art work - a painting she named ‘Penniless Graduate” at the exhibition. The painting attracted many people at the exhibition.

Marange says the painting was inspired by the unemployment problem faced by many former college and university students.

The exhibition titled ‘Nhava Yangu’, literary meaning ‘collective bag’ was a collection of four years course work that will culminate in Marange being bestowed with a Fine Arts Degree and ironically join the ranks of Zimbabwe's unemployed graduates.

Studio 7 spoke with a number of people who came to the exhibition. They were in awe of Marange's innovation and urged the government to provide resources to help such students’ projects bear fruit in the end as what happens in other countries like America where multi-billion dollar projects, like Facebook, were invented by university students.

They bemoaned lack of government support in the country's youth failing to make a mark on the international market with their innovations.