What’s your vision for Kenyatta University generally, but particularly for the School of engineering and Technology?
The Vision of Kenyatta University is to be a dynamic, an inclusive and competitive Centre of Excellence in teaching, learning and service to Humanity; with a Mission to provide quality education and training, promote scholarship, service, innovation and creativity and inculcate moral values for sustainable individual and societal development.
My Vision for the KU School of Engineering and Technology is therfore to be a leading provider of well trained and qualified engineering human resources for the provision of the physical infrastructural requirements for the attainment of Kenya Vision 2030.
Comment about the state of the Nation and its relevance to Kenyatta University
We are living in good times, Kenya is gearing to export crude oil by 2020, we have just commissioned one of the mega infrastructural projects, namely the Standard Gauge Railways. A few years ago we launched the biggest engineering project in Africa, the LAPSSET and so many roads and buildings are going to go up. We will be the ones to contribute the much-needed human resources to drive these developments. We as Kenyatta University want to be part and parcel in contributing to the implementation of the Government Development Blue Print, the Vision 2030. The KU School of Engineering and Technology will be at the centre of it, more so in teaching and research.
Talk of some the partnership that Kenyatta university has put into place to ensure they achieve some of these objectives
Kenyatta University is not only fostering important partnerships to achieve its core objectives. However taking into account the importance of engineering and technology in addressing our techno-economic problems to improve the lives of human beings, we have entered into successful collaborations.
These are geared towards improving the quality of our engineering and technology graduates and the general Practice of engineering in Kenya. In that regard, we have entered into strategic internship programs with organizations in the public and private sectors, as well as leading universities and research institutions.
What are some of the challenges that you face as trainers of engineering?
Our school of Engineering and Technology is a pioneer in Kenya. This is the first home grown engineering centre of excellence in Kenya. Most of the other schools have been using a Launchpad and funding from other international organizations, what this basically means is that we have experienced many challenges but we have faced them with resilience and calm. When starting an innovative, engineering school you need specialized human resource, some of them are not available locally so we have to come with ways to overcome this challenge, and today we have 28 adjunct and visiting professors from different parts of the world to help us meet the human resource gap, especially in areas where there are no local expertise. To address this HR challenge, will soon launch Master and PhD programmes in the field of engineering and technology.
Funding is an issue in most universities, how are you coping?
Kenya Government has been financially very supportive through capitation. However to meet our funding shortfalls we have gone out and we are continuously raising funds through generating a lot of research money as well as getting into partnership with international and national funding agencies. Certainly, given the needs for workshops and laboratories for practicals, one needs much more to train an engineer than other conventional courses.
At Kenyatta University, plans are underway to build 31 additional World Class and interactive teaching and research laboratories. In addition to this the upcoming Kenyatta University Referral Hospital will be a great training centre for our biomedical engineering students. We have ventured into energy generating projects like our recently commissioned solar power plant. In this regard, plans are advanced for the establishment of an Energy Centre of Excellence within the School.
This will be very key for our energy engineering and technology students to sharpen their skills. We have an on-going partnership with DEFTEC to use their facilities for our aerospace engineering students to conduct their workshop practicals using state of art equipment. As such, Kenyatta University is continuously not only improving how we train our engineers but thinking on various opportunities available to improve the quality of our engineering graduates.
How do you ensure the quality of your graduates?
We start from the Curriculum, the trainers, the training infrastructure, teaching methodology, practical experience and research. In every thematic area we have got top notch professors working every hour to improve our course contents before they go through the normal university approval process. We work very closely with the regulator; namely Engineers Board Kenya (EBK) and the professional body Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) to befit from their expertise and to ensure that we are playing within the rules. We also ensure that the students we are admitting qualify in our set of guidelines. As such, for admission into a KU engineering programme, one must have a KCSE mean grade of at least C+, in addition to meeting the cluster KCSE requirement of at least B+ in fundamental subjects like mathematics and physics, which is very important in ensuring the right entry criteria, and it’s the right start for us. It’s our desire to have engineering graduates who can practice in any part of the world.
What’s the future of engineering education in Kenyatta University?
Our duty as trainers of engineers and technologists is to go out there and interact with the industry, with a view of knowing exactly what their human resource needs are so that we are able to produce graduates who can be useful in our industries and are well equipped with the requisite soft skills for them to be productive in their respective fields of work.
In view of the above, we want to transform our school of engineering and technology to be a world class centre of excellence in teaching, learning and research facility. We want to reduce the gap between the academia and the industry. That’s our future!