Engineering deans in Kenya have come together to tackle the challenges besetting them while striving to get their engineering education programs accredited. The initiative supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology together with the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) has formed a very critical response mechanism by the leaning institutions.

Engineering deans in Kenya have come together to tackle the challenges besetting them while striving to get their engineering education programs accredited. The initiative supported by the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology together with the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK) has formed a very critical response mechanism by the leaning institutions.

The Engineering Deans Committee comprises of elected Deans in the Faculties of Engineering, Science and Technology from all universities and Heads of Engineering in Kenya. The current chair is Prof. Bernard Ikua and acts as the head the committee.

The university deans are from JKUAT, Kenyatta, Egerton, Nairobi, Moi, Eldoret, Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Multimedia, Technical University of Kenya and Mombasa, and Dedan Kimathi University of Technology, which offer engineering, science and technology programmes. The Committee seeks to deal with issues arising in engineering accreditation, consult on engineering education, advice on quality assurance programs, curricula development and research, formulation and implementation of guiding policies.

On October 2, 2015, the Deans invited EBK Registrar, Eng. Nicholas Musuni to the Jomo Kenyatta Boardroom at JKUAT. In his keynote speech, he appreciated the efforts resulting in the Engineering Deans Committee, which is keen in ensuring that professionalism is inculcated in engineering students through their curricula, and promised it would consider proposals made by the conclave.

“As a Board, we are thinking of starting a mentorship programme through which one would become a professional engineer within two and a half years rather than the current 5-7 years. We are also looking out for partners to express interest in provision of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) which can be attained through short courses. Moreover, the Board will carry out sensitization seminars to encourage engineering students pursue further education in engineering,” said the Registrar.

Additionally, EBK is working on ensuring that the engineering profession has more practitioners in the country and are in the process of regulating and ensuring development of the profession. The Board is also keen on ensuring mobility of engineers worldwide and is in discussion with countries registered with the Washington Accord.

Musuni also acknowledged the intention and efforts by universities towards accreditation and that the Board is keen on creating internship opportunities for graduate engineers and provision of capacity development for professional engineers. He also observed with a lot of concern that engineers did not see the need to register unless registration gets in the way of their career development so therefore an enforcement committee will be established. EBK is also set to meet with the private sector to be able to align their efforts with industry needs.

At the meeting, it was noted that the field of engineering is slow and there is need to change legislation to encourage professional growth among engineers. Africa has recorded the least number of engineers and that adequate supervision at masters’ level is lacking. Therefore, EBK and Commission for University Education (CUE) should team up to improve the stature of the engineering profession in Kenya. It was agreed in the meeting that there was need for funding postgraduate training of engineers in Kenya.

Furthermore, the Engineering Deans Committee agreed to send a memo to the Board on issues of entry job for engineers, engagement of adjunct professors, capacity building and collaborations with other bodies like National Industrial Training Authority (NITA). EBK in liaison with the Ministry of Education will work to get engineering scholarships for accreditation purposes and create database of accredited foreign institutions to help as a reference. The EBK Registrar also announced that it acknowledges the challenge of recognition of professionals within Kenya and believes that regulation should be done from the training stage.

 “The Deans committee will support universities with programs yet to be accredited.  We recommend that more Deans should come on board to avoid difficulties in offering engineering programs. Moreover, we will share materials and information given to us to help in facilitation of the accreditation process. Sharing of equipments and facilities is another area of collaboration. For example, JKUAT may have some equipment that another university like Kenyatta doesn’t have, we advise Deans to buy or share them to facilitate learning process,” said the Chairman of the Engineering Deans Committee, Prof. Bernard Ikua.

“ Besides that, we have the Global Council of Engineering Deans and Conference of Vice Chancellors, Deans Science Engineering and Technology (COVIDSET) , who come together to discuss guiding policies and directions to take in Africa with regard to engineering, science and technology.  Resolutions at the conferences are then brought forward to the Deans in order to domesticate them in the Kenyan context,” Prof. Ikua added.

With regard to accreditation, progress has been recorded as follows:

Egerton University: Agricultural Engineering programme has been accredited while forms for the other programmes have already been submitted to the Board for review.  Egerton had indentified some adjunct professors and are exploring possibilities of getting adjunct professors from India to present to the Board.

Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (MMUST) – Two programmes are ready to be taken to the Board. One of the adjunct professors had been identified and plans are underway to install equipment in preparation for the Board’s visit.

Kenyatta University- Three out of seven programnes had been accredited. The programmes are Electrical and Electronic, mechanical and civil engineering. Agricultural and Biosystems and Petroleum were the next to be presented for accreditation.

Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT)- Marine, Mining, Materials, Aerospace, Electronic and Computer engineering are still waiting to be accredited. They were yet to identify adjunct professors for marine engineering and are working on getting adjunct professors from the Netherlands and University of Shanghai China.

Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) – Four programmes are accredited Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mechatronics engineering.

Moi University- All its engineering programmers have been accredited.

University of Eldoret- All their engineering programmes have been submitted to the Board.

MultiMedia University- They are offering four programmes and were making progress towards accreditation.

University of Nairobi, Technical University of Kenya and Technical University of Mombasa had not reported anything as per the meeting of December 3, 2015 at Kenyatta University. EBK ensures that engineering courses offered are only accredited upon meeting five mandatory requirements including programme design, curriculum, adequate faculty staff and training facilities as well as infrastructure, and duration of training. The Board has only accredited 29 out of 67 degree courses offered in Kenya. EBK advocates that for a university to teach or offer engineering programmes, it should meet the required standard and continuously show improvement in terms of quality education.

On August 10, 2015, EBK officials had paid a courtesy call to the Vice Chancellor, the Dean School of Engineering and Technology and Chairman of engineering department at Kenyatta University.  The EBK officials had a chance to interact with various engineering departments’ staff at the institution while they inspected various facilities put in place at the University. The officials inspected the laboratories, library, and lecture halls at the university engineering complex. They also got a chance to interview learners undertaking undergraduate engineering programmes.

Some of the challenges experienced in the accreditation process include inadequate and unqualified lecturers, lack of proper facilities and laboratories, curricula development and slow expansion of universities. In the case of inadequate lecturers, Deans are sometimes forced to share or maybe ask other qualified lecturers to assist.  In this regard, Deans have requested that Professional Practice fellows be brought on board at senior and ordinary levels. EBK has also encouraged engineers to advance in their engineering education by finding resources to ensure capacity growth to create a bigger pool of lecturers.

Engineering courses are some of the major courses pursued by the young people completing high school education after Medicine and Law. If proper regulations  and policies are put in place and followed to the latter, issues of accreditation would not impact negatively on the profession, students would not be pursuing other professions like banking  after spending seven years in universities and be branded ‘not qualified’ graduates. There is need for institutions to come and work together in unity to have the next generation benefit from engineering education and training.

On December 3, it was agreed that the chair of the deans would write a memo to KENET Executive Director, Prof. Meoli Kashorda who also chairs Kenya Engineer editorial board to attend the next meeting with the Deans.

Leave a Reply