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Kenyan winners of Chinese-funded tech contest eye brighter future

26 October 2015, 21:30

Nairobi - Since childhood, Morris Gatobu knew his calling was in engineering and while in high school, the 24-year-old Kenyan devoted immense energy to mathematics and science subjects in order to clinch this coveted discipline in college.

Born in a rural family of modest means, Gatobu knew that a good education, hard work and commitment to noble ideals would open numerous opportunities later in life.

Currently, a third-year mechanical engineering student at Meru Technical Training Institute, Gatobu is convinced his profession will remain a prized asset in Kenya as the country charted a new industrialization pathway.

Gatobu and his two friends represented Meru Technical Training Institute at the month-long Africa Technology Challenge sponsored by the Chinese firm AVIC International.

The trio was part of a large group of Kenyan students who participated in the technology boot camp that involved intensive training on use of modern industrial machines by Chinese experts.

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Gatobu's thorough preparedness combined with attention to details and courageous spirit came in handy during the rigorous training.

He beat highly talented rivals to emerge the overall winner of the second edition of Africa Technology Challenge.

AVIC International on Oct. 23 announced cash rewards and scholarship opportunities for Gatobu and other top winners of the highly competitive technology contest.

Gatobu, in an interview with Xinhua on Monday, hailed AVIC International for providing a platform to meet trailblazers in mechanical engineering who improved his grasp of the coveted discipline.

"I feel honored to be among a select group of Kenyan students who participated in the Africa Technology Challenge. The training was very challenging but rewarding too. We honed our skills and feel confident to contribute to the country's industrialization," said Gatobu.

His group received a cash prize of 3,000 U.S. dollars from AVIC International for their prowess in operating state of the art industrial machines.

Gatobu is also among the three Kenyan students who secured a scholarship from AVIC International to pursue further studies in China from next year.

Besides acquiring new skills during the AVIC International sponsored technology boot camp, Gatobu learnt critical virtues like commitment, team work, sacrifice and hard work.

His interaction with Chinese experts not only refined his worldviews but also improved his appreciation of people from a different cultural background.

"An opportunity to meet Chinese experts and learn how their country became an industrial powerhouse was refreshing. I will always cherish the memories of my stint at the Africa Technology Challenge, it was a transformative experience," Gatobu told Xinhua.

He revealed his team learnt new dynamics in mechanical engineering during the Africa Technology Challenge that took place in Western Kenya from July 27 to Aug. 31.

"We were trained on all genres of mechanical engineering that included designing and assembling steel frames alongside machines operation and maintenance," said Gatobu.

He was upbeat the scholarship to study in China will sharpen his engineering and entrepreneur skills.

"I aspire to become an accomplished engineer and work in a big company after my studies in China. Likewise, I have always toyed with the idea of starting my own company and employ young Kenyans," Gatobu said in Nairobi.

The Africa Technology Challenge has provided a platform for ambitious Kenyan youth to hone their skills and explore new opportunities in the country and beyond.

Khamis Amin, an engineering student at Mombasa Technical Training Institute said his participation at the premier technology contest marked a turning point in his pursuit for vocational skills.

Amin was among the top winners of this year's Africa Technology Challenge who were awarded a cash prize and scholarship to study in China.

The eloquent 24-year-old mechanical engineering student revealed this year's technology contest raised the bar higher.

"The competition was very stiff and it required intensive practice for one to master how to operate different machines. Our Chinese trainers helped us navigate the challenging journey," Amin told Xinhua.

Born and raised in the coastal city of Mombasa, Amin attended private schools while his performance in mathematics and science subjects was impressive.

His passion to study engineering in college grew stronger during the teenage years thanks to mentorship from a family friend.

Now in his final year in college, Amin's ambition is to start a company dealing with engineering works.

Like other youthful contestants in the Africa Technology Challenge, Amin gained immensely from mentorship provided by Chinese experts.

He noted that the training manual provided by Chinese tutors was rich in content while the machines were not only modern but efficient.


- Xinhua

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