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We need greater cooperation between different cadres of engineers

Opinion
 Engineers and engineering technologists can only be produced by trainers who are themselves engineers and engineering technologists. [iStockphoto]

There have been many reports of failed engineering projects, mainly buildings, in the country, despite all the professional training going on in our universities and technical training institutions.

Short-cuts don’t work. The training of engineering professionals should be thorough, outcome-based and focused on developing specified competencies. Gladly, at artisan and certificate level, the training is hands on and the students are tasked to show proficiency by demonstration, not just theory. The various institutions involved in training this cadre of professionals ensure that outcome-based training is carried out religiously despite this being an expensive venture.

At diploma level, the same rigour is replicated. Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA) ensures all programmes offered are accredited by themselves and that the training institutions have the requisite trainers, facilities and infrastructure to produce the intended professionals. The trainers are further vetted and must register with the TVETA as trainers. This air-tight process ensures training is done effectively and all key competencies are built meticulously.

At university level, the Commission for University Education strives to ensure that programmes are adequately prepared by engaging trained peer reviewers. The engineering education in Kenya manifests itself in two main categories; engineering science and engineering technology programmes. Currently, engineering science programmes take five years and aims at producing graduate engineers. Engineering technology programmes take four years, aiming at producing candidate engineering technologists.

The Engineering Act 2011 clearly establishes who an engineer is and regulates his/her practice. The Kenya Engineering Technologists Act 2016 does likewise to the engineering technologist and technician professionals and defines and regulates their practice. It should be noted that engineers and engineering technologists can only be produced by trainers who are themselves engineers and engineering technologists.

Theoretically, one engineer working on a project of significant magnitude will on average require three technologists who in turn need 12 technicians and 60 artisans. Currently, while the Engineers Board of Kenya is fully established and running effectively, the Kenya Engineering Technologists Registration Board is yet to be reconstituted (since 2019) to continue to govern and regulate its engineering technology and technician professionals. In such a scenario, where one player is properly housed and regulated while the remaining 75 players are not, the result is a messy orchestra where majority of the players are disadvantaged and could result in failed projects.

Like a good orchestra, the engineer and the engineering technologist should have a common place where each comes with their instruments of trade, and together build the nation.

-Maina is a professor of Electrical Engineering, and trains both engineers and engineering technologists at Murang’a University of [email protected]

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