On the 28th and 29th March 2018, the organizing committee of the Engineering Students’ Conference led by the very able Phelister Bogonko, stood in awe and marvelled as the events of the first ever student engineering conference unfolded. All their diligence and hard work of sourcing for funds and speakers had not gone in vain. It was a success! Engineering students from all over the country converged at the Manu Chandaria Centre for Performing Arts, University of Nairobi Towers to partake of the copious amounts of knowledge that was being delivered at the 2 day conference from experienced key note speakers. The theme of the conference being, “Empowering the Youth in attaining innovative engineering solutions” rightly observed that only an educated and empowered workforce can drive innovation and growth in our country. This is how the event went down;
Conference Opening and Chief Guest Opening Speech
The conference was opened by Professor Mbuthia (The Dean of School of Engineering), Professor Ngao (The Principal College of Architecture and Engineering) then followed by the keynote opening address by the Guest of Honour, Dr. Manu Chandaria.
The Manu Chandaria Speech
‘Be buzzing, be alive!’
‘I am not here to tell you where to find jobs! I am here to remind you of the opportunity you have been given by the University of Nairobi to dream. Each of you has that possibility to do something for this country; to be able to build this country but this cannot happen if you sit around lazily waiting to be given jobs. I am not here to tell you where to find jobs! Stand up and find something to do, create jobs. Any little spot you find, fit yourself in it. Get up and develop yourself. You have an even bigger assignment of developing your country. Anything that comes your way you should even if it is sweeping the floor. Always engage yourself in doing something and resolve to do it consistently. Be buzzing, be alive! Farm and practise agriculture, write articles, visit schools and teach. This carpet written University of Nairobi in this lovely auditorium is really nice, but it is made in China. The day we will stop feeling pity of ourselves is the day we will wake up and believe in our own products. 58% of food products in Kenya were imported in the last three months. Pathetic, pathetic! The day you get patience, to think about your village, city, town, slum, you will start getting answers and motivation to stand up and produce what is necessary for this country. Kenya is ours, let us work to build it. What are you doing for this world? Innovation only comes because someone got tired of not doing something. Are you prepared? Unless you are, you will never get anywhere. Your work speaks. Your commitment speaks.”
Engineering as a cornerstone to the realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030. Mr. Raphael Chesori: Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology ‘Manufacturing is key; it opened doors for Korea’
Mr. Raphael Chesori, the Secretary General African Young Generation in Nuclear Science, basically presented the importance of nuclear energy towards realization of Kenya’s Vision 2030. From irradiation facilities for food preservation to nuclear medicine in treating cancer and industrial application of isotopes in radiography and quality assurance nuclear energy will play a big role in accelerating Kenya’s industrialization. Manufacturing is key as it opened doors for South Korea and for Kenya to have large scale manufacturing, we need a lot of energy. Nuclear energy has the potential to supply all this required energy.
The Future and Opportunities explored in AI
Gearbox Kenya and Dr. Kendi from African Nazarene University
‘Data is the new gold!’
Artificial Intelligence is more than just programming. It is technology that is within the 4th Industrial Revolution where informational technology (IT) is meeting operational technology. When a child is born and they are learning to do things it takes time but he or she eventually learns everything. What if we create something that does this? Something that mimics how we learn things. Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change based on a certain known truth while artificial means other than original. So AI is computers implementing intelligence. There are various examples in the real world including, facial recognition, speech to text recognition, kinetic motion sensing, recommender systems, virtual reality, business intelligence and computational neuroscience. Gearbox is using machine learning algorithms in embedded systems to manufacture speed governor and tracking systems for vehicles. The system of the speed governor will slow down the vehicle when it is over speeding and approaching a bump or pothole. Deep learning is also part of AI and it involves training a model to make decisions for us. Data is the new gold, systems should be able to make decisions from existing information. .
Anniversary of KESA
Mr. Tom Juma, petroleum engineering student at Kenyatta University and chairman Kenya Engineering Students Association, introduced the whole KESA team and had a cake cutting session marking the official launch of KESA after their registration. The vice chair of KESA, Ertiman Oile, then took to stage to explain explicitly the importance of the professional body. Some of the issues the body were working on to improve included, internships both local and international, period of engineering registration, assurance of accreditation of engineering courses and more professional facilities.
Building a sustainable start-up and getting funding
Mr. Erick Nyadimo, MD Oakar Services
‘Business isn’t a democracy, you either put in or ship out!’
A start-up begins with a viable product (prototype) which has to be researched on to deepen the understanding of the product. A business will cease to be a start-up when it becomes a company recognized on the public stocks market as in Initial Public Offering (IPO). The critical tasks in the founding stage include; building a cofounder team, securing key skills and know how, establishing financial resource sources and conducting extensive market research. A good start-up that is to survive the baby stages will also require a shareholder’s agreement and a business model.
- Have a legal structure for you start-up e.g. a limited liability company
- Invest your time and funds to do extensive research
- Have a comprehensive business plan; mission, vision, goals
- Will it be online? Physical?
- Crowd funding
- Venture capitalists e.g. shark tank and lion den
- Business loans from banks
Why start-ups fail
- Lack of proper business model
- Poor marketing
- Disharmony between shareholders or investors
- Not having the right team in place
- Cash flow management
- Not the right time
- Develop experience by working under a registered professional.
- Undertake professional examination – IEK, LSK, AAK, KIP.
- Partner with like-minded professionals.
- Handle money with care – the money from the business is not yours; set up your defined salary.
- Develop policies and procedures and follow them religiously.
- Professionalize your management – accountants, HR specialists, marketing, and set up a board of independent directors.
- Follow requisite regulations – tax laws, labour laws.
Panel discussion on Green energy: the future of green technologies, and manufacturing and renewable energy for Kenya’s needs.
‘Kenya’s biggest resource is sitting in this room in those chairs. We can do more, we should do more!’
- Engineer Phyllis Gathoni Mathenge – Drilling Engineer at GDC, lead presenter of green energy
- Engineer Michelle Boit – Chemical Engineer, Tullow Oil
- Felicity Mecha – Gearbox
- Is the largest producer of geothermal energy in Africa.
- Has the biggest windfarm in Africa in Turkana
- Is using technology in exploiting geothermal energy that enables her to produce energy from plant manufacturing to full production in 6 months instead of 12 months.
Despite these achievements Kenya still has a long way to go in green energy generation. We should be able to understand the difference between energy generation and the grid such that energy and KPLC shouldn’t be in the same sentence. Civil engineers are challenged, in line with green energy, that buildings they design should all have solar roofs meaning solar heated water. It is the responsibility of engineers to deliver green energy to our country and curb global warming. However, since Kenya is still fully dependant on petroleum vehicles, transitioning to green energy fully could take 20 to 50 years. Careers of petroleum engineers therefore are still safe and intact. Engineers at Tullow Oil, as they exploit oil in Turkana County, try as much as possible to use chemicals that are not harmful to the environment. The discussions and research in which engineers should be passionately engaging in is how tapping into our natural resources can bring revenue without harming them and feasibility and affordability of the electric powered cars, electric charging stations.
Panel discussion on registration of engineers and professional training after graduation
‘Your network is your net worth’
- Mr. William Kendiwa – BSc EEE at Amiran Communications
- Miss Sally Musonye
- Engineer Moses Marenya
Technologists are doers. Scientists research extensively and are satisfied with mere results and conclusions. Engineers research extensively but don’t stop at mere results and conclusions, they dream, design and build on the results. The reason for registration of engineers is to protect the society against an engineer’s activities. You should not engage in what you aren’t able to do. To easen registration read EBK specifications and The Engineers Registration Act. Also join the professional bodies such as IEK, FIEK and ACEK.
- Joseph Yonga – Kuku Kisasa
- Nicodemus Wanjala – GICOR
- Eddy Mwenda – Aquaponics
- Mellany Mettah – Kilimo Digital
- Gloria Chebet – Solar Tower
- Nellius Mwangi – Voltaic Sag