Address by Mr. Booker Ngesa Omole to the Engineering Students, Technical University of Kenya on July 3, 2014. 


Thank you for your invitation. My appreciation goes to the Engineering Faculty that has availed this opportunity for me to come and share with you my life as a practicing Engineer. This is an emotional moment for me; it actually brings me back to my university student life. It will also be a possible revelation for you on how you can make your student life much more useful through networking.

The topic is quite broad. I should maybe condense it as the role of an engineer as one of the key drivers of economy and possibly then put into perspective the engineering consultancy work in reference to myself. 

Engineering is an art and a science of harnessing natural resources more sustainably to the benefit of all of us. If we think of countries that have transformed their economies then Engineering has been the center of planning. A good example being India and China, they got their independence nearly the same time but one, China, deliberately placed engineering at the center of it while the other India chose the neo-liberal route as a supply of cheaper labor and raw materials. 

China chose the path to look at its internal conditions and invested on agro-based industries supported by heavy industries. Today they economically stronger than the rest of the world! 

In my experience as the Executive Director for the Amazing World of Engineering TV program dubbed ‘awesome’ .The point even became clearer in that, there is an engineering solution to all our daily problems. The engineers tame nature, so don’t be drawn back until you make that exiting discovery that will change the world!

As the secretary of the Journal Committee of the Kenya Engineer Magazine and a believer that there is need to have quite a very high-level of communication platform within the industry players. I thought its wise today to have a representation from the Kenya Engineer Magazine. This is a deliberate effort to encourage you not just to organize an internal magazine but come with ways of sharing information.

I do not know if you have an Engineering Student Association within your faculty? If not then it would be a possibly a good way to start this discussion. It ties very neatly on how horning our organizational and leadership skills can be a very important tool not just at the factory floor but also in our day today lives. You can also use such instruments to address your daily student challenges from engineering pedagogical methods to your professional development.

In a broader sense we can come to the conclusion that Engineers can use their analytical skills to come with solutions of major world problems apart from the textbook definition of design, build and operate.

My next issue is the role of a consulting engineer. I’m going to tell you what a consulting engineer is, what he does and how he operates.

The field of consulting engineering is immense. It can range from individual giving advise in his spare time on, for example, the failure of a particular building material, on a defect in some system or the other, on some aspect of an irrigation scheme to a large firm operating world wide and employing many staff.

Definition: A consulting Engineer is defined as a person possessing the necessary qualifications to practice in one or more of the various branches of engineering, who devotes himself to advising the public on engineering matters or to designing and supervising the construction of an engineering works and for that purpose occupies his own office and employs his own staff or, if an individual consultant, operates from his home, or, in some cases in the employers premises, that is if he has permission from his employer to offer his services to others.

Specialization: The field of engineering is so wide that consulting engineers are bound to specialize to a greater or lesser degree. No individual can encompass up to date knowledge on every aspect of engineering. Small firms will tend to specialize on particular expertise of the founders but as time goes on and they become larger, they will employ expertise on other branches of engineering and thus broaden their activities.

The larger firms will usually employ civil, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as architects, quantity surveyors, economists and accountants. Nowadays the larger firms employ environmentalist, agriculturalists, ecologists, computer and experts, etc.

Duties:  The first and primary duty of a consultant is to safeguard the interest of his client and to ensure a sound engineering job at minimum coast.

The first requirement is usually to carry out a study to advise the client and the funding agency of various options and cost of each. Thereafter a preliminary investigation is carried out – indeed this must form the part of the first stage – these may involve topographical and geotechnical studies and thereafter a detailed design is commenced. This is followed by preparations of specifications, conditions of the contract, bill of quantities and a detailed cost of estimates. Once these completed the tenders are invited and, when received, reported on and the client is informed on the award of the contract. Following the award of the contract the consulting engineer supervises the quality of the construction work, prepares certificates for payment to the contractor and advises the client on how to deal with the contractual disputes and sometimes arbitration and litigation.

Selection of a consulting engineer needs careful thought. Clients with a steady workload are usually aware of the capabilities of particular firm and have no difficulty in selecting the firm they wish to engage. Where they are in doubt they can ask for assistance for organization or place an advertisement in technical press inviting the firm to submit details of their expertise and previous experience.

Associations: An independent consulting engineer is not directly or indirectly concerned with manufacturing; commercial and or contracting interests such as would tend to influence his professional judgment on the matter on which he advises.

Generally consulting engineers form themselves associations to govern their conduct amongst themselves and towards the client. In Kenya the Association of Consulting Engineers of Kenya was formed in 1966 and drew up rules of professional conduct on such matters as: upholding the dignity and the reputation of the profession.

Consulting engineers worldwide have formed an association called FIDIC which has a secretariat in Switzerland. FIDIC represents consulting engineering association in most countries in the world and acts for the profession in dealings with government and lending agencies like World Bank and Africa Development Bank.  

In conclusion I would like to tell you that in all my consulting and business the key drive has been the passion to contribute my professional expertise and to come with various communications platforms by the engineer for the engineer.

At Skyline E. A & Green Energy, we are consultants, at IPL we disseminate engineering information through various platforms

Next time, if opportunity allows. I would like to talk to you about the Engineer in Business and continuous professional development of an engineer.

Thank you very much.

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