UNN Engineering Student Finds Solution To Power Supply, Telecom Network Challenges  

UNN Engineering Student Finds Solution To Power Supply, Telecom Network Challenges  

2 months ago
3 mins read

In a bite to tackle the pressing issues of poor power supply and network connectivity in the University community, a 500-level Engineering student at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Raymond Chuma-Onwuoku, has spearheaded the creation of “The Garage,”  a smart co-working space that provides students in the campus with ergonomic shared workspace with high-speed internet and a 24/7 hours power supply which aimed at providing social and technical infrastructure for young specialists.

In an interview with the founder, he explained why he established the “garage,” saying “I couldn’t join Team meetings because of terrible network reception, and other times, I couldn’t meet deadlines due to power outages that spanned several days. So, after discussing with some people within my community, we discovered that this was a problem that they all faced, regardless of their location. We decided to build “The Garage”, a support group for young people in remote and campus areas,” he said.

According to him, this is to plug a critical gap in the work life of users, thereby increasing productivity and economic output among young people. We then decided to build a proof-of-concept branch at the University of Nigeria Nsukka.

Chuma-Onwuoku said he drew his inspiration from his frustrations while working for a company in the U.S where he encountered challenges such as unreliable networks and power outages which made him determined to address the issues back home, where he and his team co-founded The Garage, focusing on providing the essential infrastructure for remote work.

UNN Engineering Student Finds Solution To Power Supply, Telecom Network Challenges  

READ ALSO: UNN’s Solar-powered Electronic Vehicle Charge Station To Revolutionise Nigeria’s Auto Sector

The Garage, a campus coworking startup that achieved 5000 combined work hours in 2 weeks was founded in May 2023 but was launched on 13 November 2023. It was founded by a group of three undergraduates of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka who also hold full-time roles at different tech companies.

Raymond Chuma-Onwuoku is a student of the Engineering department at UNN, and also a Content Marketer on the board, of a digital tutorial platform, Darlington Nnam, a 500-level Mechanical Engineering student is the Developer Ecosystem Lead at Argent, a global crypto platform, and Peter Ajanwachuku,  a 300-level Mechanical Engineering student and a Designer at the digital investment company, Piggyvest.

The overall idea of the garage is to provide students struggling with remote work with all the infrastructure required to make working as easy as possible. To do this, the startup intends to provide smart co-working facilities with round-the-clock access to power supply and high-speed internet across several remote campus locations across the country.

 In an interview with Chioma Iheoma a 400-level student of the Department of Computer Science, she expressed her joy towards the innovation. “I love the space, it’s comfortable enough to work here, they handled a lot of issues we are faced with working such as lack of adequate light and network just like now I have issues with my network which made me come here and for that fact, they handled this, I couldn’t have been more grateful, my experience so far has been amazing,” Iheoma stated.

In the same light, John Ochigbo, a graduate  of Biochemistry who is also a UX/UI designer,

motion designer and  a graphics said:  “I enjoy the experience, they are always improving which is why I have been a loyal customer since day 1.”

According to Chuma-Onwuoku, The Garage was inspired by global tech leaders like Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, who started their companies in garages and have gone on to build world-changing businesses.

Despite limited marketing efforts, The Garage has seen widespread adoption, thanks to strategic collaboration with organisations like Thrivefest and Junior Chamber International communities. Chuma-Onwuoku emphasizes the importance of community impact, noting that understanding the needs of students led to affordable pricing to ensure accessibility.

While The Garage faces challenges such as adapting to user habits and operational issues, the team remains committed to providing 24-hour electricity using a combination of solar power and generators. Looking ahead, Raymond envisions The Garage as a launchpad for technical innovation, empowering students to achieve greatness with the resources at hand.

According to Chuma-Onwuoku, The Garage reflects a growing trend of student-led innovation aimed at addressing Nigeria’s socioeconomic challenges with a focus on community empowerment and affordable solutions, The Garage represents a promising step towards overcoming barriers to digital work in Nigeria.

Raymond oversees the operations of the company as the Head of Business while also handling marketing and partnerships. Darlington leads the Engineering team and is focused on developing the startup’s space as a service software. Ajanwachuku is the Head of Design whose role involves overseeing all visual and web design endeavors within the company.

The southeast is quickly becoming an emerging powerhouse within the Nigerian tech ecosystem. This is propelled by the activities of tech communities like Google Developers Club, Ingressive for Good, Blockchain University of Nigeria, etc. Between these clubs are nearly a hundred thousand young people looking to pursue careers in tech. However, they too suffer the same challenges that prompted the establishment of The Garage.

Raymond said the company is collaborating with these communities to provide its service to the techies. As such, the company has seen a good influx of unique visitors, receiving 317 of them, 88 percent of which came back as recurring users. The Garage has averaged over 17 hours of work per user and hosted three start-up teams. It also boasts a virtual community of about 1,000 people, many requesting the company’s services to be expanded.

The team is looking to make this software available to the public at large, allowing anyone to build a co-working space from scratch, at their convenience. This way, they hope to democratize access to co-working spaces for tech talents across the country and indeed the African continent.

 

Jacinta Chisom Oguadinma

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