Students Industrial work experience scheme (SIWES) was established by ITF (Industrial Training Fund) in 1973 to solve the problem of lack of adequate practical skills required for employment in industries by Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions. SIWES is an exercise created for students of higher education to enable them practice those things they have learnt theoretically in class. It also helps to expose students to the use of certain industrial equipment. The exercise reveals students skills as well as inspiring students’ ambition to become useful citizens in the future. It also helps them to interact with the highly respected and educated personalities. These students are willing and eager to prepare themselves to attain certain higher positions after graduation. This is a report of the SIWES experience I had at the national root crops research institute, Umudike, abia state.
The National root crops research institute (NRCRI), Umudike is one of the 17 Agricultural research institutes in Nigeria. The institute started as a provincial experimental farm under the national department of agriculture with headquarters at Moor plantation. It assumed a federal status to become Federal Agricultural Research and Training Station (FARTS) in April 1, 1972. By April 1, 1976 it became known as national root crops research institute by the Agricultural research institutes decree of 1973. In line with its national and zonal mandate, the institute has the responsibility of conducting research into: Genetic improvement of root & tuber crops of economic importance in Nigeria Agronomy of root and tuber crop production including farming systems development for the southeast agro ecology Design and fabrication of simple agricultural farm tools and equipment Storage, processing, utilization of root & tuber crop production.
NRCRI has taken giant strides with commendable results. These have earned the institute one of the best research institutes in Nigeria having contributed immensely to the economic development. The research findings of the institute have made Nigeria to become the world’s leading producer of cassava and yam with annual production of 33.1 and 19 million metric tons. The track record has also placed the institute in the top position for two years consecutively in the annual world food day. ACHIEVEMENTS:
Effective control of major pests and diseases in cassava, yam, irish potato & sweet potato Development of sweet potato starch & media for biological uses Development of true potato seed for irish potato production
Development of cassava, yam, sweet potato & cocoyam flour for baking, odorless fufu, cocoyam chips as snacks. Development of low cyanide cassava varieties for the savanna agro ecological zones
JOBS DONE/EXPERIENCE GAINED
INTRODUCTION TO THE WORKSHOP:
On arrival to the workshop, the first thing I was introduced to was the safety rules of the workshop which included the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times. After this, I was given a full orientation to the workshop staff and tools.
MODIFICATION OF A GINGER CUTTING & WASHING MACHINE:
When I arrived at the workshop, the ongoing project was the modification of a ginger cutting machine and a ginger washing machine. A ginger washing machine is a machine used for washing freshly harvested ginger from dirt while a ginger cutting machine is a device used for cutting freshly harvested matured ginger into two equal parts. For this the following jobs were needed.
USE OF HAND CUTTING/HAND GRINDING:
The hand grinding machine which is also called an angle grinder is one of the very useful tools in the workshop. It is used for cutting, grinding and polishing. They can be powered by an electric motor, petrol engine or compressed air. In the workshop, the angle grinder was powered by an electric motor. The motor drives the geared head at a right angle on which
is mounted an abrasive disk (used for grinding) or a thinner cut-off disc (used for cutting). It was used for cutting into metal sheets to a specified measurement, removing excess material and smoothing rough edges off the material. PRECAUTIONS:
-In the workshop, we were required to replace worn discs because the continuous use of already worn discs could cause parts or the whole disc to fly out thereby causing serious damage to body or machine. -The cutting disc should never be used in place of the grinding disc and vice versa -Never stay in an enclosed place and always use the right posture when cutting/grinding.
A HAND CUTTING/GRINDING MACHINE
USE OF THE HAND DRILLING MACHINE:
A drill is a tool fitted with a cutting tool attachment or driving tool attachment usually a drill bit or driver bit which is used for drilling holes in various materials. The drill bit is gripped by a chuck at one end and rotated while pressed against the material. A centre punch is usually used to indicate the spot where the drill is about to perforate so as to prevent the drill bit from slipping of the mark. PRECAUTIONS
-Apply just the right amount of pressure to the drill during use as too much can end up breaking the drill bit and too little would not do anything.
USE OF JOINING PROCESSES:
During the work on the ginger cutting and ginger washing machine, metals also needed to be joined together. We used processes such as welding, riveting and also bolts & nuts. PRECAUTIONS
-When welding, make sure the eyes are protected by a facemask -When riveting ensure staying on a flat surface.
MEASUREMENT & MARKING:
Before any work is carried out, it has to be put into measurements so as to avoid waste. Some of the instruments used were the vernier calipers, steel
rule, measuring tape.
THE USE OF THE RADIAL DRILLING MACHINE:
A radial drilling machine is a large gear headed drill press in which the head moves along the arm that radiates from the column of the machine. The arm of the machine can swing in relation to the base of the machine. This swing operation helps the drill head to move out of the way so a large crane can place the heavy work piece on the base of the radial drilling machine. This also helps in drilling holes at different locations of the workpiece without actually moving the workpiece. Common features of the radial drilling machine are the power feed of the spindle and the coolant system.
We also discussed problems when looking for solutions and also acquainted ourselves with the relationship between pulleys and the speed of a crankshaft. At the end of all these, the ginger cutting machine and ginger washing machine were tested and modified where necessary with good results.
RELATION OF EXPERIENCE TO FIELD OF STUDY
The relevance of my experience to my field of study is the fact that most of the problems and tools encountered in the workshop were those which have been solved theoretically in class and hence a better understanding of the course was achieved.
The relevance of this industrial training to Mechanical Engineering is the fact that it helps students to be more compatible with what they have been taught. Mechanical Engineering is more understood when combined with practice. The Industrial training helps to achieve this part. It makes the students not only knowledgeable but also quick with their hands and minds. This, at the end of all these, will result in better trained members of the mechanical engineering society.
Mechanical Engineering, in fact, is a practical course. Considering the situation of our country with respect to education, I would say that without SIWES, graduates of mechanical engineering would really be lacking when it
comes to practicing the course in the real world.
All in all, the experience was a very wonderful one. I developed a good working relationship with the staff and my supervisor as I had learned from my 200 level industrial training and I also had a wonderful time putting what is learned in the classrooms into practice. Safety is a very important issue in any environment but it can never be over emphasized in a workshop.