Building on ICT
By Gregory Gondwe, Blantyre, Malawi
University of Malawi architecture students say the introduction of ICTs in their course has helped to improve their efficiency and time management as well as organisation in their studies.
The University’s Polytechnic constituent college recently exhibited its students’ work, as well as the subjects that form part of their work.
Two students from the college, Anthony Kaambankadzanja and Blessings Belekanyama, told Biztechafrica that most of the displays at the fair were a demonstration of how they have embraced software that is now being used to facilitate their learning as architecture students.
“Since AutoCAD is an industry leader in 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, modeling, we are using it for most of our architectural and engineering drawing,” explained Belekanyama.
Kaambankadzanja says the students have maximized their productivity by using software tools for design aggregation and documentation, connecting and streamlining their designs as well as documentation workflows.
During his first two years of study, most of the work was done manually. This was not easy, he says.
“Now that I am in third year and this is the first time I have started using ICT, I feel challenged to do even better because the computer has simplified most of the work, unlike our forbearers who had to manually come up with designs,” he said.
With the use of the right software tools, Kaambankadzanja says design work and organisation is vastly improved.
The students now use several software packages, including AutoCAD Architecture for 2D, AutoCAD Revet, 3D use, Google Sketch up, ArchiCAD, 3 Dmax, Antlatis for rendering, v-ray as well as Photoshop.
Research done by academicians Harry Gombachika and Chipo Kanjo of the University of Malawi on the use of ICT in Science and Engineering in the University of Malawi established that there is symbiotic relationship between higher education institutions and ICT.
“To this end, the University of Malawi uses ICT to enhance the institution activities and processes. On the other hand, the University is being used to increase awareness, skills and expertise in ICT sector,” he says in a paper.
The paper says science and engineering is used to model and analyse systems, simulate systems, calculate and solve engineering and scientific problems, and capture and explore experimental data,which has been made easy with ICT.
The two academicians, having observed this however say that, ICT in the University of Malawi faces several challenges including inadequate resources such as bandwidth, hardware and software, lack of policies to guide development and exploitation of ICT, and limited ICT awareness and skills.
Gombachika and Kanjo have since proposed that the University should formulate an ICT policy, train staff members on the use of ICT, and provide a conducive environment where novel ideas on the use of ICT are harnessed and exploited.