Going Green: Inter-university Engineering Students Symposium
Engineering students have been challenged to come up with solutions to climate change and exchange ideas with leading innovators in the world, Israel.
Speaking during the event, Israel Deputy Ambassador to Kenya, H. E. Eyal David, opined that they are ready to help students with innovation. As a country, they are very strong on innovation. “We are ready to share our technology, our experiences and our expertise with you, " he said.
Israel has been a strong partner in supporting the University of Nairobi innovation ecosystem, dubbed, Nairobi Innovation Week, since its inception in 2014. During its launch, the Israel Embassy brought in Saul Singer, the author of Start Up Nation, who gave a keynote address on Israel's technology innovation and start up ecosystem. Saul Singer, spoke of the challenges, the success stories they have had in the past. He opined that the revenue from technology innovation has since surpassed revenue from agriculture.
Engineering students who held a two-day symposium with the theme: Going Green, were a encouraged to embrace farming and come up with technologies that will help in improving farming yields and dealing with climate change. They were urged to visit Israel under the program ‘Mashav’ based in Arava in Telaviv.
Over the last five years, Israel has been taking over 100 Kenyan students to Israel on 11 months internship program. During this period, students learn agribusiness techniques that have enabled Israel to be the bloom in the desert. The aim is to help students get experiential learning and gain skills that they can practice once they are back into the country. The Ambassador challenged more students to enroll for the yearly program after the completion of their studies. They will not only have a chance to learn high tech agriculture, but will also have a chance to visit the Holy Land and see some of the historical places as captured in the Bible. “You will walk in the footsteps of Jesus. You will see the places Jesus visited. The Bible will come real to you", said the Deputy Ambassador.
Making the desert bloom is about water management. The Ambassador remembered with nostalgia, how they were told as little children to 'save every drop of water'. Israel as a country uses 90% of recycled water for agricultural purposes. They use drip irrigation to conserve water. Water source is 50% from natural water and 20% from desalination.
The Ambassador invited Arava Alumni to an event in May, where all alumni have been challenged to bring their business plans and get funding from Israel financial institutions.
The University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor, Prof. Stephen Kiama took the opportunity to challenge students to be active participants in affordable housing and manufacturing, the two key pillars in the Big Four Agenda of the government. "We need secure habitable houses," he said. In the recent past, Kenyans have witnessed with shock buildings collapsing, this is partly attributed to poor workmanship and engineering.
"Manufacturing can be a game changer for our country. We need your creativity to grow the economy. Microsoft, Apple were all started by young people like you", he said. The Vice Chancellor was represented by Prof. Enos Njeru, the Principal, College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
The two days conference brought together the academia, industry and government. It enabled students to forge new frontiers with the industry players and to share knowledge. Universities represented during the conference include : Kenyatta University, Baraton University of East Africa, JKUAT, Makerere University and Kyambogo University from Uganda among others.