4th International Conference Begins
A three-day international conference organised by the Directorate of Research and Knowledge Exchange kicked off smoothly on the 21st February 2018 as scheduled.
The theme of the conference being held at the Sarova Panafric Hotel is: “Innovation and Technology for Social Transformation.”
Prof. Francis Aduol, The Vice-Chancellor Technical University of Kenya opened the event that has attracted participants from Belgium, South Africa, Nigeria, UN, local research institutions and universities.
While paraphrasinga 19th Century German scholar Wilhelm von Humboldt, Prof Aduol said there is no way one can effectively teach at university level is he/she is not involved in active and quality research.
According to Humboldt, teaching should be guided by current research, and that research should be unbiased and independent from ideological, economic, political or religious influences. The Humboldtian model strives for unconditional academic freedom in the intellectual investigation of the world, both for teachers and for students. Study should be guided by humanistic ideals and free thought, and knowledge should be formed on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism rather than authority, tradition, or dogma.
Prof Aduol decried the poor showbylocal institutions in World Ranking of Universities by Webometrics. “Most of our local universities are only ranked favourably in parameters such as presence but not on excellence based on the quality of research,” said Prof Aduol.
The VC appealed to TU-K academic staff to be proud of their institution and acknowledge it whenever they submit papers for publication in scholarly journals. “We may soon take some of you to task to justify why we should keep you on TU-K payroll yet you use the University time to conduct research yet you are reluctant to acknowledge that fact in your academic work,” warned Prof Aduol.
The VCpraised the Directorate of Research and Knowledge Exchange headedby Prof. Fiona Mbaifor making the conference a success.“We have for the last four years consistently held this conferences in various venues in Nairobi and I remember when we started with the first one, we were in South C and we did not have an audience this big. That we are here today on our 4th conference and with this attendance, is a very big achievement to those people who have been organizing it,”said Prof Aduol.
Joe Amadi-Echendu, a professor of Engineering and Technology Management, at the University of Pretoria South Africa and the founding Director of the Institute of Engineering Technology and Innovation Management at the University of PortHarcot in Nigeria, was the keynote speaker.
Prof. Echenduexplained that for human to run technology and not the vice-versa to happen, we must be treat technology as an asset. “An asset is something that gives you a means to the realization of value. So far, we are headed for a disaster because technology nowadays controls our young people. Why is it that nowadays you cannot have a descent conversation with a young person without them having to touch their laptop or phone?
Prof Echendu challenged Kenyans to be proud of their innovations, music and food. “When you board an Emirates flight, you will feel somehow that you are in Arabia. But when you get into the Kenya Airways flight, you may think you are in England! What happened to all the Kenyan niceties? Isn’t the aircraft a technology that can help us push ourselves on?
He went ahead to urge everyone to develop social entrepreneurship and stop talking about economic entrepreneurship. “People should start embracing technology in a different way. For example we have sewing machines here in Kenya, so we should start sewing our own textiles that add value and promotes our societies.”
He concluded by asking everyone to find values we share then we can have the technology to solve them because at the end of the day, it is not about technology but values that we share and as long as they diverge there is no technology that is going to solve our problem.
Among other guest speakers were Prof. M.H. Khalil Timamy at Pwani University, Dr. Nicholas Ozor (Executive Director, Africa Technology and Policy Studies Network), Mr. John Matogo (University Relations Leader at IBM in East Africa) and Rafael Tuts (Director, Programme Division/ United Nations Human Settlements Programme).