13th of March 2020 marks one of my most productive days this year.

It was just before the Corona virus scare, specifically the president issuing the decree on closure of schools and institutions to curb the spread of covid-19. On this day, the Society of Engineering Students in JKUAT organized an in-reach event.

To ensure we are on the same page, I will explain some concepts.

The Society of Engineering Students (SES) in JKUAT has a number of committees that deal with specific issues.

The SES Outreach Committee mainly deals with encouraging high school students to pursue engineering courses.

There are two ways it does this: In-reach and Out-reach. Outreach involves the university students visiting the high schools, primary schools, children homes etc. In-reach involves the students visiting the campus.

 This gives them a wonderful opportunity to get inspired by engineering students as well as get a feel of what university life is like.

Mercy Nairuko, the chair of the Outreach Committee defined in-reach as; “An annual event for high school students that happens within JKUAT. Its main purpose is to impart knowledge with regard to engineering to secondary school students intending to pursue courses in engineering.” She further gives us objectives of this event:

  • To inform students on the various engineering courses in JKUAT
  • To impart knowledge on what each of the engineering field encompasses
  • To relate these engineering courses to what their respective job markets entail
  • To inform the students on the KUCCPS requirements in relation to the cut off for the engineering courses.

Four schools attended this year’s event: Starays High School, Olympic High School, Dawamu School and Chania Girls High School. We had a turn up of about 200 students, a program extending to more than half a day and a few eager engineering students ready to convince others to follow in their steps.

Our program for this day involved icebreaker sessions by our ‘fun person’, Sylvia Jebbet; a panel discussion, a demystifying session and presentations of a few projects touching various engineering fields. 

 The program transitioned smoothly through the help of Paddy Adallah, our MC. Moreover, the students got time to interact with both the students and the lecturers of JKUAT.

The panelists in the panel session were Mr. Simon Manegene (Electrical and Electronics Engineering Department), Dr. Florence Kiburi (Agricultural Engineering Department) and Dr. Rehema Ndeda (Mechatronics Engineering Department).

Among of the questions asked was why they had chosen a career in academia. 

All panelists agreed that working hours in academia were regular as compared to working in the industry and came with benefits such as the presence of a social life. 

They, however, did not discourage the students from pursuing other lines of career saying it all depends with the passion of the student.

In addition, Dr. Rehema mentioned that she was interested in research and being in the university gave her both the resources and the time to do so. They all agreed that it is important to work hard in high school, and especially in sciences and mathematics.

Dr. Florence, however, did encourage the students to perform well in all the subjects to ensure a good grade. The students also asked for information on the subjects required to pursue engineering courses. This information is accessible via the JKUAT Website.

Another thing that also came up was that the students did not necessarily need to have studied for particular subjects to do particular courses. To explain this, Dr. Florence, an agricultural engineer, did not actually study Agriculture in high school. She says that although students in her class that had studied Agriculture had an advantage, it was negligible.

All in all, the panelists stressed the importance of identifying your interests, your skills and dreams and work towards realizing them.

The demystifying session involved students from the various departments breaking down what their courses were really about. I was almost convinced to pursue a different course despite being in my 4th year of education.

The session started with Brunner Kibali, a Telecommunications and Information Engineering student, who gave an example of one sending a message, or rather shooting their shot. His presentation involved the process the text undergoes from the sender to the receiver.

Other presentations were by Thomas Nyanumba (Agricultural Engineering Department), Ivy Magara (Mechatronics Engineering), Joseph Musyoka (Mechanical Engineering), Lulu Chirumo (Marine Engineering), Neil Kibet (Civil Engineering), Ethan Eliakim (Mining Engineering), Godwin (Electronics and Computer Engineering) and Beatrice Wanjiru (Electrical and Electronics Engineering).

One of the reasons I (and I hope others as well), study Engineering is because of the ability to provide solutions to real world problems. In fact, it is the very definition of what Engineering is.

One of the ways we come up with these solutions is through projects. This is why we had the Projects Committee seal our pitch to these young people by presenting interesting projects, one of them being
a self-balancing robot designed and actualized by a vibrant and talented third year team, you can find more details on this project in the Embedded Systems section of our blog Our closing speech encouraged the students and everyone in general to dare to dream and not to be afraid. She especially encourages the girls in the room to break barriers due to the small number in STEM.

During and after the event, I talked to a few students to find out what they had taken from the event.

“In order to succeed, you need to put effort without ceasing” ~ Brian Osoro, Form-Four Student, Dawamu School.

Moreover, the engineering students also had a few things to say.

“Seeing them (the high school students) learn and enjoy the event in various ways was a great joy and inspiration to do more, in mentoring students. All thanks to the JKUAT Society of Engineering Students team who made this a great success. It taught me the importance of team work.”  ~ Mercy Nairuko, chair of SES Outreach.

“The in-reach event was a perfect learning experience for everyone who attended including the JKUAT engineering students. I learned more about other engineering courses in JKUAT and what they do.” ~ Vitalis Ayacko, Secretary General, SES.

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