Kevin Odongo is a fourth year electrical engineering student at the University of Nairobi. Kenya Engineer got an opportunity to catch up with him to tell us more about him and his future endeavours as the newly elected Engineering Student Association (ESA) chairman 2015/2016.
People are inspired to do different things or pursue different careers. What motivated you to study engineering?
While in secondary school, students would get the opportunity to choose the courses they wish to pursue in colleges or universities. In my case, I chose engineering, medicine and law due to the fact that they are courses that people aspire to do. Having realized that i was good at science subjects, i decided that in my post secondary education i would pursue engineering. The other thing motivational factor that made me specialize in engineering is by interacting with people who majored in electrical engineering which gave me courage to do it.
What are some of the greatest challenges you encounter while pursuing engineering?
One of the greatest challenges that we have is lack of adequate laboratories to accommodate the high number of engineering students. The other challenge is acquiring softwares that facilitate learning among students in various departments as the softwares are deemed expensive. When looking at the cost of the softwares they are a bit expensive and students can’t afford to buy. Finally acquisition of resources ,for example HELB loans has long processes in applying so students are not able to access it faster.
Engineering or engineers play a critical role in achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). What role do you see engineering/engineers playing in the next 10 to 15 years towards attaining Vision 2030?
Engineers play a big role in attaining Kenya’s Vision 2030 as it is through them that the country has developed both economically, politically and socially too. There is immense growth in the field of energy production as Kenya eyes the production of 5,000MW of power by 2017. In general, engineers are involved in different sectors including education, health and natural resources exploitation among others.
Being an electrical engineer student, what partnerships has your department formed to aid students learning?
Since I got admitted here in 2012, i have seen the African Development Bank(AfDB) in conjunction with University of Nairobi donating equipments such as control equipments, transformers and test benches that have facilitated easier ways of doing practical’s. I hope that other partnerships will be formed even in other departments to make learning easier and acquisition of practical’s better.
Can the laboratories accommodate the huge number of students? What would you propose to the University?
In terms of structure of the laboratories I would say they are not accommodative as we are forced to go in groups to do our practicals. So we have a schedule where each class visits the Laboratory on different schedules. Therefore, I would propose that the government and the university to come in to support engineering as a course and engineers too.
As the newly elected chairman, are there any projects that as an association you plan to do or have already done?
We plan to have a very active Association that closely works with students in order to achieve laid out goals. We have recorded various achievements like we have gone for an academic trip something which our previous predecessors didn’t manage to organize. We still do and continue to do sports tournaments and high school mentorship among girls to take up the engineering course.
What changes will you implement that will be differentiated from your predecessors?
We plan to have an Annual General Meeting (AGM) once new engineering students are admitted so as to have them as members of ESA. This meeting will give them a chance to interact with the industry players, who will offer advice on the various available opportunities in engineering or the reasons one needs to train as an engineer.
Together with our Dean, School of Engineering we intend to have an engineering open day next year. In addition, we have included engineering class representatives to work with us in the Association. We intend to have more partnerships with associations inside and outside other universities such as Women Student Welfare Association, Rotaract Club, Makerere University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT), Technical University of Kenya among others.
What is your advice/parting shot to the young people who aspire to be engineers?
Have an open mind with what you are doing. Engineering is a wide profession and very interesting. Being a student engineer, i have seen engineers play a critical part in building the nation.