TU-K to Benefit from a Safaricom Sponsored Innovation Laboratory Worth Ksh. 225 Million

The dream of the Technical University of Kenya (TU-K) becoming the “MIT” of Africa is nearer than earlier imagined. Safaricom Ltd will sponsor the innovation laboratory dubbed “TechAvenue” which will be used by engineering students at TU-K, to a tune of 2.5 Million dollars, the equivalent of Ksh. 225 million at current exchange rates. The money will be inform of equipment to be purchased and installed by Safaricom Ltd. This was recently revealed by Mr. Bob Collymore, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Safaricom Ltd during his visit to the university.

Mr. Collymore noted that his company has interest in working with young innovative people and will nurture their talents as much as is practically possible. “Innovations and enterprise development are considered to be the engine of economic growth of any country. Therefore as young innovators, we will step up and offer whatever assistance you require,” he said.

The CEO who had a session with students from the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and Technology (FEST), responded to their questions. Earlier on, he had visited the exhibition stand where he was impressed with the innovations on display. He urged the students to explore areas they are good at, develop passion on what they do, work hard and improve on their projects at whatever cost. This, he explained, will help in creating jobs and wealth in the country. “Safaricom has been an active partner of learning institution. Whereas TU-K focuses on practical orientation of students, the industry needs this calibre of manpower,” he said. Click here to view photos

The two institutions identified key areas of partnership which include; innovation, securing the input of industry practitioners and professionals into the training, and academic exchange programmes where students and staff will be attached at Safaricom Ltd for a certain period. This means that they will receive hands-on training at the facilities of the company and students will be allowed to go for academic tours of the facilities.

Vice-Chancellor Prof. Francis Aduol thanked Safaricom Ltd saying that the company will help accelerate the university’s capacity in teaching and learning and improve on what is already available. He welcomed the partnership saying that the training will impart on the job experience of the trainees for the real world of work. He observed that innovation will solve problems of unemployment, industry as well as the community.
Prof. Aduol is optimistic that this will ensure that skills of the graduates meet the new challenges of the job market. He explained that the university has made it mandatory for students to undergo 12 weeks of internal attachment commonly known as Internal Industry Based Learning (IBL) under the supervision of the lecturers and 12 weeks of External Industry Based Learning.

Student Innovations.
Mr. Collymore was impressed that the students could handle systems and machinery while still on campus. He was particularly interested with the Off-Road Buggy vehicle, designed, developed and fabricated from scratch by the fourth year mechanical engineering students during their 12 weeks Industry Based Learning. He caused a stir at the university when he drove the buggy vehicle. The students have now set their sights on competing in the prestigious Formula Student competition organized by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, U.K.

The journey that led to funding by Safaricom Ltd, started after a presentation on innovation capabilities of TU-K and the need to fund an innovation laboratory. This was done by the Director, Centre for Engineering Innovation and Production (CEIP) Dr. Eric Ogur, in October 2013 to Safaricom’s Products and Services Development Manager Ms. Martha Githui. Subsequently, this then led to a visit by both the Head of Products and Services Development, Mr. Kenneth Okwero and Head of Innovation Ms. Veronica Ogeto, who were very impressed with the innovations from students who included Elizabeth Ondula, Peter Mbiria, Catherine Maina, Daniel Kamiru and Monica Maluta to name but a few. The members of staff included Mr. Winston Ojenge and Ms. Mary Ahuna both from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Prof. Wilson Ogola and Dr. Eric Ogur of the Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering .
Dr. Ogur, exudes confidence that “Techvenue” will provide a platform for students to develop and sharpen their skills. This in turn will enable them innovate and develop products and services that are required by industry and have a direct impact in improving lives in the community at large. The innovation laboratory will transform the way people perceive engineering education in the country and make a positive contribution to the entire region. “This is an exciting opportunity for me because we will soon become the most advanced Technical University in Africa with equipment to rival any leading university in the continent,” he says. Click here to view photos