SADC member states undergraduate students to build low-cost laboratory equipment at SANBio LabHack

working in a lab

SADC member states undergraduate students to build low-cost laboratory equipment designed for the African context at the South African edition of the LabHack 2018, arranged by SANBio / BioFISA II in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

Large numbers of students often have to share single items of equipment, making it difficult for them to gain the hands-on experience necessary for effective Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in Africa.

A model that was conceived by University of Oxford researchers Louise Bezuidenhout and Helena Webb, LabHack aims to bring the ideas and ideology of the Open Hardware movement to the African educational community by creating opportunities for equipping labs for and by Africans in a novel and sustainable fashion.

The first LabHack was piloted in June this year in Zimbabwe together with the Harare Institute of Technology (HIT), NEPAD Southern Africa Network of Biosciences (SANBio) and the National Biotechnology Authority (NBA) and other sponsors attracted 70 participants.

After successfully piloting the event in, the LabHack SA edition will be hosted from 11-13 November 2018 at the CSIR Main Campus in Pretoria and will serve as a platform for both students and educators to solve the shortage of laboratory equipment in their learning institutions. 

To achieve this, students are challenged to form teams of disciplines within engineering, biological science, economics and social sciences in order to build polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, centrifuges and magnetic stirrers, with an additional open category for medical equipment, using building materials and tools purchased at local hardware stores.

Prior to the event, teams are required to submit design plans, budget and any software code and even preliminary hardware prototype or design. Teams will work on their designs and prototypes from 11 to 12 November and will demonstrate and present them to a panel of judges on 12 November, followed by the presentation of awards to the winners. Challenge winners are assessed by criteria including excellence of design, completeness of documentation, frugalness of hardware usage, and ease of equipment use by downstream user.

The Details of the LabHack Presentation event are as follows:
Date: 12 November 2018
Venue: CSIR, Building 22, Meiring Naude Road, Pretoria
Time: 13h00 – 17h00
Media is invited to attend. Please RSVP by 2 November 2018. We look forward to seeing you there. Queries can be directed to or Kelebohile Sedieane at +2771 947 9990 or 0027 12 841 4039.