JKUAT: 1st African Team At Imagine Cup World Championship

The Knights: Ken Gicira and Michael Mwaisakenyi (right)

Two JKUAT Mechatronic Engineering finalist students dubbed The Knights, put on a splendid performance at the Imagine Cup championship that ended May 21, 2020. Team Knights, comprising of Michael Malombo Mwaisakenyi and Ken Kioria Gicira, was among the six teams at the Microsoft’s Imagine Cup World Championship; the first time an African team appeared in the World Championship stage in 18 years.

To grace the Imagine Cup World Championship held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Knights emerged winners, of the 2020 Imagine Cup European, Middle Eastern, and African (EMEA) regional final, March 2020, with their Weeding Bot Innovation, taking home USD 8,000 (Kshs. 828,000).

The Knights, created an automated robot using artificial intelligence to identify and remove weeds from rows of crops. Their solution uses cameras as sensors to gather input from the environment and eliminate farmers’ need to use environmentally harmful pesticides in their weeding.

Gratified to represent JKUAT, Kenya and the region at large, Mwaisakenyi said their participation regurgitated Africa’s potential to create solutions that directly address socio-economic needs facing the society.

“The championship has clearly augmented my passion for technology and I am confident that we have paved the way to see innovations from young bright minds not only in JKUAT, but the continent at large being showcased at the world stage,” said Mwaisakenyi.

Gicira on the other hand is buoyant that their dexterity in their innovation will not only be key in solving the issues of food production through technology, but will also encourage the youth to venture into agriculture as a viable venture.

“Youth often do not see the future in agriculture but with mechanisation and use of technology in the field, agriculture provides the single most important platform for employment, income generation and food security hence improving the livelihood of people in society,” said Gicira.

While congratulating Mwaisakenyi and Gicira for a job well done throughout the Championship, Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said The Knights performance, as envisioned in University’s vision, projects JKUAT as an institution of global excellence in training, research, innovation and entrepreneurship for development.

The Weeding Bot

“This is a great achievement for the students who have shown their innovative prowess, confidence and grit to compete, and as a University, we are proud of their exploits,” praised Prof. Ngumi.

Moving forward, The Knights observed that the award money will be instrumental when piloting the Weeding Bot for local farmers, reducing environmental pollution caused by herbicides while still increasing crop yield, thus improving food security in Kenya.

The Imagine Cup aims to inspire students to use their imagination and passion for technology to create innovative and inclusive projects that tackle some of the world’s biggest social, environmental, and health challenges.

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