The economic and social disruption caused by the COVID 19 pandemic is devastating to say the least. The pandemic that ravaged the globe has caused loss of human life and presented an unprecedented challenge to public health, food systems and the world of work.
To JKUAT and the education sector at large, the pandemic disrupted the day-to-day activities of institutions due to the lockdown that was witnessed across the globe in 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
As much as the pandemic affected a range of activities in the sector, it was not all gloom and doom for JKUAT in year 2021. The institution achieved several milestones and witnessed outstanding strides thus creating fond memories for JKUAT.
The year 2021 saw JKUAT ranked top amongst Kenyan Universities in the “Usage of the KENET Remote Teaching Platform” by the Kenya Education Network (KENET); win the KENIA Commercialization Champions’ Award at the Kenya Innovation Week and become the number one institution in institutional ICT infrastructure and WiFi expansion. It was also the year JKUAT exhibition stand was voted the overall 2nd best at the Build and Interior Expo.
JKUAT has, since its inception, been at the forefront in fostering a culture of research and innovation among students and faculty. Year 2021 was no exception.
JKUAT research titled; Evidence-Based Rehabilitation Program for Controlling Morbidity, Enhancing Immunity and Physical Function for People with Severe COVID-19 in Kenya was shortlisted by National Research Fund (NRF) for allocation of research funds. The research spearheaded by Dr. Wallace Karuguti of the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences was among 13 out of 350 proposals that were submitted and shortlisted by researchers to NRF.
The JKUAT Scientific Technological and Industrialization Conference was held virtually, in strict observance of the COVID-19 containment measures, and attracted participants from over 15 countries, in academia, government and private sector to discuss a wide range of issues aimed at refocusing research, innovation and entrepreneurship for excellence in higher education in the era of COVID -19.
Sharing of data and research materials among researchers is a desirable practice that is often hampered by practical challenges. Three JKUAT researchers led by Dr. Petronilla Muthoni with the assistance of Damaris Waema and Robert Kibet innovated an interactive web-based portal that has multiple search criteria properties to enhance information sharing and retrieval.
JKUAT’s Mushroom Growing Resource Centre, introduced a new type of mushroom, Trametes also known as Turkey Tail. This mushroom variety has medicinal value and if consumed, could play a significant role in managing the impact of lifestyle diseases, while at the same time, reducing the cost burden on patients.
To strengthen the regulatory monitoring of compliance to food fortification standards and regulation, the European Union Funded Food Fortification Programme domiciled at JKUAT carried out a country-wide industry surveillance exercise. The two-week long exercise that commenced on July 12, 2021, targeting over 150 maize and wheat millers sought to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of the fortification process.
JKUAT in conjunction with Kenya Agricultural and Research Organization (KALRO) embarked on a mission to find solutions to problems facing farmers in Bomet and Kericho counties. The collaboration dubbed; Sustainable Participatory Enhancement of Finger Millet Value Chain is under the Kenya Climate-Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) funded by the World Bank and aims at leveraging on newly developed and adopted technologies, providing viable and prudent solutions.
Globally, institutions of Higher Education have been criticized of being ivory towers, distant from the interests of their communities. To dispel this notion, the Pan African University Institute for Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) domiciled at JKUAT, launched a Kshs. 10 Million Incubation Center of Excellence dubbed, PAUSTI CoE.
A team of scientists at the JKUAT’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (COANRE), led by Dr. Agnes Kavoo (Principal Investigator), Dr. Rashid Mwashasha, Dr. Leonard Kiirika and Dr. Lilian Kariuki successfully implemented a research project aimed at promoting Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OSP) in Isiolo County to address nutritional challenges.
Partnership and collaboration is a critical component for JKUAT as it strives to be a research university of global excellence in training, research, innovation and entrepreneurship. 2021 saw JKUAT enter a number of partnerships as it sought to position itself as an academic giant in the region.
JKUAT and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services, entered into “a mutually beneficial partnership aimed at promoting the development of Korogocho Level 5 Hospital in terms of training capacity in health sciences and improving delivery of health services” in Nairobi County.
The University signed a Memorandum of Cooperation towards the actualization and optimization of the blue economy in the Lake Victoria Basin Region. Parties to the agreement will work together on matters relating to Lake Infrastructure, Maritime Transport, Tourism, Maritime Education and Training, Fisheries, Aquaculture, Cultural and Aquatic Sports, Trade and Investment, Environmental and Natural Resource Management, among others.
The Kenya State Department of Maritime and Shipping Affairs and JKUAT strengthened and solidified their existing partnerships to accelerate the achievement of the vast potential in the blue economy, both in the country, regionally, and across the globe. Through the Maritime Technology Cooperation Center for Africa (MTCC Africa) the two institutions held a number of conferences including the virtual Energy Efficiency Conference and Exhibition, the first of its kind in Africa.
Bidco Africa and JKUAT entered into a partnership agreement that saw the two entities collaborate on strategic fronts including agricultural research, innovation, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and the general improvement of agriculture and food security in the country.
JKUAT School of Law was one of the universities in Kenya collaborating with the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University (USA), on a project titled: COVID-19 Law Lab. The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic.
Early comprehensive testing for COVID-19 is essential to curb the deadly virus that has ravaged the globe and presented a threat to health care systems worldwide. JKUAT and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) collaborated in COVID-19 testing and treatment under the project dubbed Catalytic COVID Action Project, in an effort aimed at curbing the COVID-19 scourge.
Researchers in the School of Mechanical, Manufacturing and Materials Engineering (SOMMME) and the School of Bio-Systems and Environmental Engineering (SOBEE) in collaboration with Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg (TUBAF) of Germany, launched an additive manufacturing project christened; Sustain AM. The project aims to enhance sustainable additive manufacturing by incorporating bio-based materials that currently go to waste, underutilized or unwanted.
JKUAT was selected as one of four institutions in Kenya, to partner with Nagasaki University, Japan, on a student exchange programme aimed at promoting groundbreaking research in planetary health. The programme dubbed: Planetary Health Africa – Japan Strategic and Collaborative Education (PHASE) was launched in January.
JKUAT and Universitas Ilmu Pengetahuan Bogor (IPB University) agreed to kick start their collaboration of student and faculty exchange as the two institutions draft a memorandum of understanding to cement the partnership. The partnership was spearheaded by the Ambassador of Indonesia in Kenya, Dr. Mohamad Hery Saripudin.
The Technical University of Munich (TUM) and JKUAT, resolved to leverage on their existing partnership to strengthen research collaboration in the areas of Renewable Energy and Entrepreneurship with a view of enhancing sustainable development in rural communities.
JKUAT selected 16 students; comprising of 5 males and 11 females, all in their third year of study, in the Department of Rehabilitative Sciences, pursuing BSc. Physiotherapy to participate in a joint digital course between JKUAT and German-based University of Paderborn. The three-month programme took place between April-July, 2021 and culminated in a digital exam and thereafter, a week-long summer school at Paderborn University.
As part of institutional efforts aimed at enhancing the academia-community relations through development and outreach programs, JKUAT constructed a urine-diverting dry toilet (UDDT) at Gachororo School that operates without water and does not have odor or vector problems. The project which was handed over by the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Engineering to Gachororo Primary School was funded by Africa-ai-Japan to the tune of Ksh. 800,000.
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), JKUAT, through its Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology (IEET), and Japan-based Tobe Shoji Company Limited are working towards the establishment of a recycling plant in the University for used PET Bottles.
After months of consultations and co-creation with the Olderkesi community members, Narok County government and other stakeholders, the JKUAT Sustainable Energies, Entrepreneurship and Development (SEED) Project broke ground in December. This gave a green light for the installation of a 12 Kwp mini-grid plant, that will see the Narok community members, who are otherwise currently off-grid, access renewable energy and consequently entrepreneurial opportunities.
JKUAT is guided by a clear vision of being a University of Global Excellence in Training, Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship for Development. On the academic front, JKUAT’s standing as a regional center of training in 2021 was affirmed following the introduction of a number of academic programmes in consultation with various accreditation and professional bodies.
The emergence of the second industrial revolution, coupled with the challenges of providing global solutions to societal problems has attracted attention from information and communication technology companies keen to make a strong impact of their work through students’ innovations.
To foster this, JKUAT became the latest beneficiary of Huawei, who introduced a short training course in Data Communications targeting second-year students on internal attachment in the University. Fifty students piloted the programme in 2021.
The global demand for combined statistical and computing expertise outstrips supply, with evidence-based prediction forecasting major shortage in data analysts, at least, in the next 10 years. To address this gap in the country and the region, JKUAT launched the Bachelor of Science in Data Science and Analytics programme offered at JKUAT Karen Campus.
The School of Medicine in partnership with Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) launched the first ever Masters programmes in Emergency Medicine and Dermatology in Kenya.
On the students’ academic achievement front, JKUAT made history, becoming the first University in Kenya to confer a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Health Communication during the institution’s 36th graduation ceremony, conducted virtually on Friday, April 9, 2021.
During the graduation ceremony, Dr. Agnes Mercy Wahome, became the first person in Kenya to attain the PhD degree.
In the same breadth, as JKUAT marked her 37th graduation ceremony, the School of Nursing graduated its first PhD graduate, Dr. Jostine Ndunge Mutinda.
With her thesis titled, “A model of pain management using opioid analgesics in palliative care nursing in Kenya”, she is the latest Doctor of Palliative Care in Kenya.
JKUAT fraternity in 2021 positioned JKUAT as a crucible for award-winning research and innovations enterprises that seek to address global challenges.
JKUAT fraternity in 2021 positioned JKUAT as a crucible for award-winning research and innovations enterprises that seek to address global challenges. During the Jamuhuri Day Celebrations, three JKUAT Dons, led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi, were recognized by the President, H.E. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta for their distinguished and outstanding services rendered to the nation in their various capacities.
Prof. Ngumi was awarded the Elder of the Order of the Burning Spear (EBS) while Dr. Reuben Wangari Thuo and Dr. Walter Bichanga Okibo were awarded Moran of the Order of the Burning Spear (MBS).
Dr. Jackline Mosinya Nyaberi, a lecturer in the Department of Environmental Health and Disease Control, bagged the inaugural Kofi Annan Global Health Leadership Programme (KAGHLP) of the Africa CDC.
Prof. Kenneth Ngure, Chair, Department of Community Health, JKUAT was among six awardees of the 2nd Maisha HIV/AIDS Awards organized by the National AIDS Control Council. The don took home the Social Sciences Research Award that targeted an established researcher whose work has contributed to understanding socio-cultural and behavioral processes that predict or influence HIV and AIDS outcomes.
Dr. Sheila Cecily Ommeh was recognized by the Kenya Education Network (KENET) as the top female researcher at the University. She was recognized for her “publications captured in the Elsevier Scopus database over the period 2015 – 2020 in all subject areas.
Dr. Nassib Tawa founder and lead researcher at the Centre for Research in Spinal Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, JKUAT was appointed to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Africa as a Rehabilitation Consultant.
Prof. Waweru Mwangi, Dr. Lawrence Nderu and Prof. Patrick Kareru were awarded the KENET Special interest Group of Computer Science and Material Science. The three emerged the top three researchers in the category.
Dr. Judith Oloo, a Senior Lecturer at the School of Law was selected to be one of the 100 laureates of French African Young Leaders Program, 2021 edition. She was the only one selected from East Africa in the education category, and one of the four Kenyans overall selected to join the leadership training programme.
The Director of Sports at JKUAT, Dr. Peter Waweru Kamaku, won the Best Referee of the Year Award at the 2020/2021 Football Kenya Federation Premier League Awards. The award comes against the backdrop of a spectacular year for the JKUAT Pure and Applied Mathematics don, where he made history becoming Kenya’s first Centre Referee to officiate a match at the Africa Cup of Nations.
With regard to students, Charity Kithaka, a 3rd-year Mathematics and Computer Science student won the Top 35 under 35 award organized by the Youth Agenda in collaboration with the State Department of Youth, anchored in the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs.
JKUAT once again reaffirmed its undisputed ICT leadership excellence on the global arena after four students dominated the top three positions at the Huawei Global Competition. JKUAT’s Evans Kiprotich, a student of Telecommunication and Information Engineering, came first globally in the competition, under the Network track.
Clinching the third place was JKUAT’s team Mazingira, under the Innovation track, with Michael Obwayo, Lydia Gathoni, and Dianarose Nasipwonyi flying the University flag high. The students were under the tutelage and mentorship of Mr. Philip Oyier, an ICT expert and Lecturer, Department of Information Technology.
Team Siren, consisting of six fourth-year Bachelor of Science in Information Technology students proved their innovation knack by emerging winners in the Red Bull Basement National Competition bagging USD 1000. Elias Ngugi Kariuki, Brian Murithi, Grace Kyalo, Josephat Wambugu, Timothy Kimani and Dennison Mutinda competed against 20 teams at the National level.
JKUAT Business Innovation and Technology Management Student, Bethany Jepchumba and her team, emerged winners in the Game of Learners season two, sponsored by Microsoft Africa Development Center (ADC), Kenya. Jepchumba’s team with their innovation christened Bloom-Learn came first in the competition beating 11 teams with 60 participants drawn from Kenya and Nigeria.
If you have interacted with JKUAT you will perhaps appreciate the fact that we could go on and on about how 2021 was a memorable and significant year for the University despite the effects caused by the COVID-19 scourge.
As we begin 2022, a pivotal year in the country, we have no doubt that JKUAT will continue to be resilient, provide leadership in research, innovation and entrepreneurship not only in the region but the globe at large.
Borrowing from the words of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi; JKUAT has top-notch brains and innovations to solve problems facing the region, specifically in manufacturing, healthcare, food security and housing for sustainable development.
We are optimistic, 2022 will be another opportunity for JKUAT to soar to the skies and create impact that is beneficial to the community and the country.