In-tray full for incoming engineering lobby leaders ahead of defining polls

Prof. Eng. Christopher Maina Muriithi, PE Dean, School of Engineering and Technology. Murang'a University of Technology. [File, Standard]

The 2024 Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) elections mark a critical juncture for Kenya’s engineering sector.

A recent presidential debate, featuring prominent civil engineers, highlighted the profession’s pivotal role in shaping the nation’s infrastructure. The debate also hinted at IEK’s progress in gender inclusivity, even at the highest levels.

However, the scarcity of female engineering professors, numbering fewer than 10 countrywide, remains a stark reality. Despite this, the recent addition of the 1st consulting mechanical lady engineer marks a milestone, bringing the total to 20 women consulting engineers and advancing gender balance. 

Kenya boasts approximately 20,000 engineering students across 18 universities. Yet, the current engineer-to-population ratio of 1:15,714 falls far short of the ideal 1:500 for industrialisation. Bridging this gap through five-year engineering programmes requires strategic planning.

The Engineers Board of Kenya’s (EBK) Graduate Engineer Internship Programme (GEIP) plays a pivotal role in bridging academia-industry gaps and preparing engineers for real-world challenges. Kenya’s alignment with the Washington Accord, spearheaded by the EBK, and the development and accreditation of centres of excellence in engineering signal the country’s global engineering ambitions.

The convergence of IEK and the Institution of Engineering Technologists and Technicians of Kenya (IET-K) under one state department offers unexploited opportunities to bridge the gap between engineering technologists and engineers. This harmonisation not only enhances engineering regulation but also suggests the development of progression pathways for technologists to become engineers. 

Collaboration among IEK, IET-K, and TVETs is essential for industrialisation as evidenced by the success of the Asian tigers. The incoming IEK leadership faces multifaceted challenges, including increasing corporate membership, accommodating graduate engineers without voting rights. It also has to address the engineer-to-population ratio through increased graduate engineers and mentorship. 

-The writer is an IEK aspiring Ordinary Council Member