The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Forbes Marshall East Africa, have initiated a training collaboration with an objective of giving students practical industry knowledge and skills.
The training targets the areas of Steam Engineering and Energy Conservation and will see students from the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) and the College of Pure and Applied Sciences (COPAS) benefit from the hands-on mentorship.
Forbes Marshall is a leading multinational engineering company, specializing in steam engineering and control instrumentation, with a footprint of 75 years. In East Africa, the company has been in operation for the past eighteen years, priding itself as a leader in process efficiency and energy conservation for process industry.
Speaking at the commencement of a two-day training held at the University on Wednesday, 9 February, 2022, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Prof. Robert Kinyua underscored the importance of a sustained university-industry linkage in ensuring the products of academia are in tandem with industry needs.
“We are grateful to Forbes Marshall East Africa, through the Head of Operations, Eng. Anirudha Bhoite, for this significant partnership. As a University, we are keen on preparing our students holistically, which makes these industry insights invaluable. It is through such collaborations that we continuously review our curriculum to make sure it is up-to-date and relevant to the needs of our dynamic world,” he said.
Prof. Kinyua further challenged the students and alumni community to always remember their alma mater by coming back and mentoring students, citing the example of Forbes Marshall’s Elly Olang’o, a Steam Systems Engineer and a JKUAT alumnus. He pursued BSc. Control and Instrumentation at the Department of Physics, Class of 2015, graduating with First Class honors.
A total of 120 final-year students drawn from the Department of Physics and the School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Materials Engineering (SoMMME) were trained on a wide range of topical issues touching on Steam Engineering and Energy Conservation. From Steam Basics, Steam Distribution, Steam trapping, Condensate and Flash Steam recovery, to Pressure and Temperature controls, and introduction to Steam boilers.
Commenting on the fact that the training brought together students and faculty from COPAS and COETEC, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration and Finance), Prof. Eng. Bernard Ikua laid emphasis on the importance of multi-disciplinary approach to academia and research, citing it as a key factor in achieving sustainable development.
“If you come to think of it, engineering is basically Physics. A multi-disciplinary approach is very crucial if we’re to address the world’s challenges. We can no longer afford to operate in silos. Through this partnership, we believe we can get to a level where we can manufacture some of these equipment at the university,” he opined.
On his part, the Head of Operations, Forbes Marshall East Africa, Eng. Anirudha Bhoite termed the collaboration as a crucial first step in bridging the gap between industry and academia, as well as filling the knowledge gap in the field of steam systems.
“We’ve been doing similar engagements with universities across the world and I’m glad we’re now doing it in Kenya. The support by faculty, the enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge by the students has been overwhelming, and our interaction so far has been phenomenal. Going forward, we will be doing this on a regular basis, and it will include short certificate courses for both students and staff,” he said.
Forbes Marshall has further intimated at the possibility of establishing a full-fledged steam lab at the University to aid in the training of Steam Engineering using the latest technology and equipment. This, according to Physics Department’s Dr. Calvin Ominde, would be a game changer in the training of students.
“This will enable real practical experience for the students on matters steam systems, control systems, thermodynamics, thermal physics, instrumentation, system modelling among others,” he stated.
A similar training is expected later in the year, with plans in the pipeline to see more students from the two colleges incorporated in their earlier years of study, as well as initiating a graduate trainee programme.