Principal COETEC Prof. Bernard Ikua(Front-3rd From Right), Engineering Workshops Manager Dr. Peter Kihato(Front-2nd From Right), Africa-ai-JAPAN Project Chief Advisor Prof. Manabu Tsunoda(Back-3rd From Left), members of the Technical team from Japan, Technologist at iPIC and students from Japan among others who were part of the program pose for a group photo

This year’s skills upgrading program for technical staffs involved in the Innovation and Prototyping Integrated Centre (iPIC) activities at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) was carried out from 13th to 18th September 2017. The objective of this training was to equip participants with technical knowhow in the operation and maintenance of existing and newly acquired equipment donated by the Government of Japan through the Africa-ai-Japan Project based at JKUAT. This activity was part of the wider effort by the stakeholders to enhance Africa Innovation by providing the necessary infrastructure and human resources necessary in order to effectively tap the abundant indigenous African knowledge, and improvement of idea generation and product development. Similar training had been carried out in 2015 and 2016 for technical staffs of Engineering Workshops.

iPIC Technologists being trained on how to use various Engineering Softwares

The comprehensive training program was developed after a thorough needs assessment carried out by Prof. Bernard Ikua the Principal of the College of Engineering and Technology at JKUAT in consultation with Engineering Workshop’s Manager Dr. Peter Kihato and his team comprising of Mr. Daniel Omondi, Mr. Ben Maniafu and Mr. David Nderi on one hand, and Professors Takao Koide and Masashi Miura and a team of three technologists – Mr. Daiju Taketoshi, Mr. Ryuuji Kawabe, and Mr Kenichi Sakamoto – from Tottori University Japan. The training needs assessment identified gaps in specific skills required for effective maintenance and operation of existing and new equipment in the department in order to enhance student training, research, and innovation.

A brainstorming session by students from Japan and JKUAT Mechatronics students at iPIC Brainstorming Room

Specific areas covered included Involute Gear cutting using the milling machine; fabrication, installation and testing of a deodorization box for the Laser cutting / printing machine; and training on Computer-aided Design (CAD) and Computer-aided-Manufacture (CAM). Participants were also able to operate for the first time the laser printing / cutting machine as part of their training experience.
Those trained included members from Engineering Workshops – Mr. Ben Maniafu and Mr. Robert Kinyua from the Innovation and Production section, and Mr. Jared Ombui and Mr. Ellie Ogutu from Machine shop – and Mr. Boniface Kariuki from Mechatronic Engineering department. Selected students from JKUAT included Mr. Derrick Omondi, a first year student from Mechatronic Engineering Department; Mr. Protus Odie, Ms. Linda Wangui, Mr. James Ludenyo, and Mr. George Ngure all fourth year Mechatronic Engineering Students; and Mr. Walton Twele, a fifty year Mechatronic Engineering Student; while two students – Ms. Ayumi Nanjou and Mr. Kento Nishimura – joined the training from Japan. The students benefited from the training I terms of project planning and implementation, interaction with foreign students in achieving set objectives, and experience in handling and operation of new equipment installed at the iPIC building.

Principal COETEC Prof. Bernard Ikua addressing the team that was involved in the Training during the closing ceremony which he also closed officially

Experiences gained will be shares with other technical staffs within the department, students taking engineering programs at the University, and other interested parties in order to improve on indigenous knowledge creation, transfer and product development. Gaps identified through this training will form the basis for future training and skills upgrading programs. Consequently, it is expected that a number of patented products will be registered from activities at the iPIC building by members of the JKUAT community.

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