Funny story, it took me about three years to start my journey in architecture and three more years down the line, I realized that I wanted to delve into robotics (interesting right?). I got introduced to programming when I attended a STEM Camp in Ghana while working with WAAW Foundation. It was mind-blowing to see that I could make an LED bulb blink by coding it to do so. I know this isn’t so impressive but I felt like a genius! Growing up in this part of the world (Nigeria), I didn’t get to experience a lot of innovations brought about by technology. And so, when I was able to programme an Arduino board to make an LED bulb blink (my first time seeing anything like that), I truly felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do. That was all it took to get me interested in tech in general.

I got back to school as a third-year student after the experience, and I struggled to find my place because doing just architecture wasn’t enough for me anymore. Whenever I was given a semester project, I always got excited because I couldn’t wait to see the end product, building the physical model of my design. After I was done building each model, I would hold it and reminisce about how I conceived the idea and what inspired each element of my design. That made the whole process worth it, even if I didn’t get the exact grade I wanted. One of my first project exploring this new tech in school was during an assignment when I was told to build a relief model. This is modelling just the front view of a building but, in 2D. I was itching to see how I could apply my newly found skill, and I used this assignment as the perfect fit. My relief model had a box attached to its rear and in it, I placed programmed LED bulbs that were visible through holes made on the model, displaying as twinkling star lights (To think that I can tangibly tinker with tech is incredible).

I really didn’t practice so much of robotics until a few years later. I got to showcase my flare for tech in a classroom project when I choose robotics engineering as a profession. As kids, we were told to play dress-up and show up in our prospective profession during career day. This classroom project as a final year student was similar only that we were being taught technical communications and were told to communicate technically in whatever profession we chose. Of course, I chose to be a robotics engineer and since there weren’t as many rules as to how we were to communicate, I shot for the stars. I built an automated miniature crane made out of recycled materials. This crane built with an Arduino board could lift itself and pull up materials tied to it based on the commands from my codes. After then, I knew that I wanted my final year project tailored towards that direction and so I researched and discovered that I could somehow merge IoT tech with architecture as in smart buildings.

I designed a Children’s Centre for my project and I designed it smart sensitive to the need of children that are physically challenged. They, along with their teachers and administrative staff would be able to communicate with the building. Now this is interesting because IoT devices like smart braille watches have been invented and children that are visually impaired could navigate the building simply by using their smart watches. I especially enjoyed this project because it was my first experience coalescing tech with architecture. I went wild with my model! I planned to make it smart and physically show some of the features I mentioned in my thesis, so much so that I was working on the model right till the very minute of my presentation. Due to some unfortunate turn out of events, my plan was unsuccessful, but I believe that it’s all part of the journey and I wouldn’t change a thing if I could. These experiences augmented my flare for tech and marked the beginning of my journey as an IoT enthusiast. Right now, I am researching some more about how tech could apply to architecture directly. You can find my recently discovery here.

Mercy Aboh-Author