The thought of new concepts such as printing of body parts (instead of looking for a donor) or a customized dream car may seem absurd, yet rapidly emerging technologies such as Additive Manufacturing (AM) also known as 3D Printing are set to revolutionize the future in more ways. This therefore calls for capacity development as a strategy to meet the demands.
It is against this backdrop that the Department of Mechatronic Engineering at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in collaboration with the Professorship of Additive Manufacturing, Freiberg University of Mining and Technology (TUBAF) of Germany, organized the January 2022 SustainAM School, which officially opened on Monday, January 10.
Speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi during the opening ceremony of the inaugural two-weeks training session, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua stated that Mechatronic Engineering was a flagship project of JKUAT and therefore there is dire need to continuously improve lecturer and student capacity to solve problems facing the industries.
Prof. Kinyua further said, competency-based learning needed to be characterized by the honing of skills through a problem-based approach, which is an efficient vehicle in promoting learning and consequently developing the country. The training, he hoped, would culminate in patenting the various outputs.
On his part, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Eng. Bernard Ikua, urged the participating undergraduate and postgraduate students drawn from JKUAT and Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) to engage constructively with the facilitators. He urged them to disseminate their outputs in order to benefit the society, adding that it will catapult manufacturing to a new level as well as reducing industrial waste.
The training aims to enhance the skills of JKUAT staff and students in sustainable additive manufacturing technologies such as designing using 3D modelling software within the CAD range. The strategy is aimed at rapid manufacture of crucial products using less materials at minimal costs.
3D printing involves the use of specialized printers in layering materials such as plastics, composites or biomaterials to create different objects that are useful to different industries.
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Henning Zeidler, Head of the Professorship of Additive Manufacturing in the Institute for Machine Elements, Engineering Design and Manufacturing at TUBAF, said that the SustainAM project (on which the January School is anchored) was keen on the upcycling and reusing bio-based materials in producing filament that are pivotal in allowing for innovations.
The January 2022 SustainAM School, which will be delivered in blended mode of learning, is the first in a series that will be conducted annually up to the year 2025. The Virtual lessons will be complemented by practical sessions at a state-of-the art AM laboratory domiciled at JKUAT.
The JKUAT team steering the training will be represented by Dr. (Eng.) Samuel Kabini Karanja, Dr-Ing. James Kuria Kimotho, and Dr. Erick Kiplangat Ronoh, Chairpersons of the Department of Mechatronics Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Agricultural and Bio-Systems Engineering respectively. Also in the team are Dr.-Ing. James Wamai Mwangi, Ms. Maurine Andanje, and Ms. Lucy Kariuki all from Mechatronics Engineering.
Apart from Prof. Zeidler, TUBAF will also be represented by Dr.-Ing. Lisa Kühnel, Dipl.-Ing. Leif Micke and Dipl-Geol. Manuela Junghans who are both research associates at the Professorship of Additive Manufacturing.