In a remarkable display of collaboration between academia and industry, the Institute of Energy, Environment and Technology (IEET) at JKUAT in partnership with The Grass Company, organized a hackathon under the Green Tea Project.
The event brought together students from JKUAT and Dedan Kimathi University of Technology to tackle challenges faced by Kenya’s tea sector in a changing climate through decentralized energy generation from renewable biomass.
Throughout the hackathon, participating students demonstrated their passion and commitment to finding sustainable solutions. Divided into four groups, they focused on designing biomass collection and aggregation equipment, biomass drying systems, biomass chipping machines, and biomass processing units. Their objective was to create efficient, cost-effective, and safe solutions that would enhance the tea sector’s resilience and contribute to a greener future.
The hackathon aimed to tackle key issues such as reducing labor intensity, introducing affordable mechanization, optimizing biomass collection, and ensuring occupational safety and health standards. These guided the participants’ minds as they embarked on developing innovative solutions for the tea sector’s sustainable development.
While appreciating the students’ enthusiasm during the exercise, CEO, The Grass Company, Gerald Owino, underscored the critical role of collaboration in addressing the pressing challenges faced by the tea sector.
He said, the event served as a platform for knowledge exchange, mentorship, and collaboration between industry experts and aspiring young minds.
“The students’ active involvement exemplified the synergy between classroom learning and practical application, as they harnessed their acquired knowledge to develop tangible solutions for societal challenges,” said Mr. Owino.
By working together, Mr. Owino believes we can find innovative solutions to strengthen the viability of Kenya’s tea sector while ensuring sustainability and resilience in the face of a changing climate.
On his part, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, lauded the organisers of the hackathon saying it plays a significant role in bridging the gap between academia and industry.
“Events like this hackathon serve as a powerful catalyst in nurturing the talent and creativity of our students. By providing them with real-world challenges and encouraging collaboration, we empower them to apply their classroom knowledge and contribute to practical solutions that have a lasting impact on society,” said Prof. Kinyua.
Director, IEET, Prof. Joseph Kamau, emphasized the need to equip students with practical skills saying, the objective of the institute is not just to impart theoretical knowledge, but to also ensure students are well-equipped to apply their expertise in real-world scenarios.
“This hackathon provides them with an opportunity to bridge the gap between theory and practice, fostering innovation and problem-solving abilities,” quipped Prof. Kamau.
The students involved were determined to make a difference through teamwork, innovation and out-of-the-box thinking. They were adamant that the knowledge gained, connections established, and enthusiasm ignited during this event would continue to shape their future endeavors, reinforcing the commitment to finding sustainable solutions that will drive positive change in society.