A Look into Nelson Elijah’s World of Robotics  

The article was written by Maduemesi Chiagozie

Robotics engineering is a field of engineering which centres on building machines that replicate human actions. A robotics engineer creates these applications or autonomous machines (aka robots) for industries such as mining, manufacturing, automotive, services and more. This year’s edition of Stream Magazine shines the spotlight on Nelson Elijah; a young man drawn in by the world of robotics and is now on the journey to becoming a robotics engineer.

Nelson Elijah, a 300-level Electronic Information Engineering (EIE) student, fell in love with robotics and naturally gravitated towards it as a child at the age of 9. He said, “I remember when the torch light in my home spoilt. I looked for different ways to repair it and I repaired it. That drew me into robotics; I always wanted to figure out how things worked”.

When questioned on the first thing he built in relation to robotics, he laughed and said a car that you can control in three ways: through the human voice, remote control and a device. Elijah revealed that although the project was not successful, that experience built his interest more into robotics.

As an aspiring robotics engineer in Nigeria, Nelson has faced with many challenges. According to him, these challenges stem from the poor educational system in Nigeria that places more emphasis on being book smart as opposed to the practical application of what is taught, the lack of resources as robotics is expensive and this forced him to source for money in other ways through savings and doing business in school. He further explained how robotics is not a one-man job. You have to look for a team with the same mindset as yours to motivate and push you to do better.

His greatest creation yet to him is the fully-fledged drone he built; a project he undertook when his dad woke up one day and asked him “Hey Nelson, can you build this drone?” He immediately said yes even though he wasn’t sure why. In order to build this drone, Nelson had to read, watch videos and learn different programming languages which made his project a successful one. He talked about how he built the drone and made the drone into his own command. And to this day, building the drone is one of the most revelling times for him.

Nelson believes that contrary to popular opinion, Nigeria has hope in robotics. To him, the problem with the country is that we missed a lot of processes. Nigerian youths are just into “fast money” and nobody wants to work. He elaborated on the need for Nigeria and Nigerians to start from the ground up and ask ourselves questions in order to build better educational systems and human developmental hubs.

Finally, when asked for his advice to young aspiring robotics engineers he said they should try to discover themselves and try to build things; remain creative and remain foolish. And overall, ask a lot of questions and be curious.