Youth of the Month: The Young Cameroonians of Hardware Innovation Valley Community (H.I.V.C)

Sustainable change requires a community of like-minded people willing to put in the work. As Better Breeders, this is our mission; designing a better tomorrow for Cameroon by developing ourselves today. This month, we zero in on a group of youths doing just that, the Hardware Innovation Valley Community (H.I.V.C). Below is our discussion with them:

Could you give us a brief description of H.I.V.C?
Our community tends to compromise hardware enthusiasts with the main aim of building products, branding our work, and improving the hardware sector in Cameroon. A field which for many years has been solely about building prototypes and demos.
Also, we are very passionate about our community. In this light, our activities are usually geared towards its development. For example, on the 26th of October 2019, we organized the first-ever robotic conference; the Open Robotics Conference. This was an open sensitization event aimed at informing secondary and university level students on the field of robotics and its applications.

What programs are run by H.I.V.C to achieve their goals of developing community-based solutions using STEM?
We organize intellectual conferences, open community events, and free training sessions. During the intellectual conferences, participants brainstorm on ideas and from the solutions generated, conceive, and build projects. The training sessions target youths and we teach on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Programming.

What specific programs and/or solutions were designed by H.I.V.C to help in the response against the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our first response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the release of a contact-less hand sanitizing machine called the Anti-COVID-19 in 2019. Here is a link to a video detailing the use of this machine, https://youtu.be/Q-1zIqK9Zqs. Its purpose is minimizing viral transmission by eliminating physical contact with sanitizer bottles. Its main features are:
Detecting hands before dispensing gel.
Ability to authenticate users using magnetic cards.
A rotating knob which changes the rate of gel flow.
Optimized circuitry and a battery-run for a period of 5days
Work on an optimized version of this machine has already begun. We hope to release the next version by September 2020 provided all necessary resources are available. This version is expected to dispense both sanitizer gel and liquid soap.

Generally, what challenges did/does H.I.V.C face and what strategies are being employed to overcome these?
The financial commitments we undertook to build the Anti-COVID-19 was a challenge. We had to use our personal savings to bring the product to fruition. In addition, balancing each member’s schedule to ensure consistent team meetings has definitely been a major hurdle to overcome.

Is the H.I.V.C community working on any plans or projects at the moment? If yes, could you tell us more about them?
As previously mentioned, work is underway towards the release of a fluid dispenser in September. In addition to this, we are working with a Common Initiative Group (C.I.G) to realize a completely autonomous poultry farm. Also, we plan on organizing a live-project construction event on 3D modeling and printing in the near future.

What should we look out for from H.I.V.C in the future?
H.I.V.C aims to build a community that solves problems through hardware automation. The plan is to continually transform our community using technology and in the process empower others to do the same.

Finally, what do you think Cameroonian youth need to know or do to be the Better Breed?
To become the Better Breed, we must get back to the drawing board. Be proactive in solving problems. Build a team and work together, you do not have to do it alone. Above all, do not limit yourself, always draw inspiration from others.

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