JKUAT SES Tech Week 1.1

“The beginning is always NOW.” — Roy T. Bennett

Words can’t express how exhilarating the event was. Every moment is still fresh in my mind and I can still relieve it. Okay, enough with flattering 😉. Let us organise our thought compass 🧭 and unfold each moment chronologically ⏲️.

Before the event

The JKUAT SES Tech Week event was the first of its kind and as such, we, the organising team, had little knowledge on how to go about holding a successful event. One major setback was the lack of sufficient funds to cater for the event. Luckily, our sponsors came to our rescue with Microsoft and Africastalking pledging financial support two weeks to the event. Furthermore, in a splendid show of solidarity, some JKUAT SES alumni and alumnae managed to chip in on the budget and sent out their generous contributions. This was great. Really great! As one of the major hurdles had been jumped.

Due to covid restrictions, we could only accommodate 100 attendees at any one time, and it was surprising to see the slots fill up within a week. Perhaps we hadn’t anticipated such a generous response. However, when it came to registering speakers for the event, it was a bit fretting. The time slots did eventually fill up, and I also volunteered to give two talks in the course of the event.

The event also incorporated a hackathon, and everything seemed to be going well with teams changing their chassis up to the last week. With this being a school-based event, most of the hackathon participants were my colleagues which made it easier to coordinate and share knowledge on how to develop a fast and accurate line following robot.

Our preparations for the tech week highlighted some shortcomings in our club and seeing that we were able to resolve these issues. It was quite a fulfilling experience. As an added bonus, we were also able to design new merchandise for JKUATSES which has created a good avenue for raising funds for any future events.

“Ideas don’t come out fully formed, they only become clearer as you work on them. You just have to get started.” — Mark Zuckerberg

Day 1

I will relieve my organising committee duties and narrate as an attendee.

The morning was quite chilly and I had a great feeling that the gods were on our side. Everything went according to plan, albeit a few hiccups here and there. We were graced to have Kelvin Ndemo a GitHub student ambassador doubling in as a software developer in Twiga foods. We also had our alumni Ephantus Ngugi who works at Gearbox Kenya.

They kicked off the day on a high note and we were pleased to have them. The morning sessions were impressive just to mention but a few talks;

  1. PCB design from Chrispine Tinega from JKUAT SES
  2. Cloud functions from Josh Cardiff from Microsoft

In the afternoon I had my first talk under the structural track, computation fluid dynamics. Here, I was able to brief the attendees on how to carry out a CFD study with our case study, Nakuja N1 Airframe. This was the first model rocket we flew with the Nakuja team.

Other talks in the afternoon were;
1. Software Control from Felix Wanyoike from JKUAT SES
2. Building IoT systems with Kennedy Otieno from Africa’s Talking
3. Embedded systems from Calvin Mwadime. Here we explored the embedded system in the Voyager spacecraft.

I finished the day with a talk on building the JKUAT SES development board. I must say it was quite an exhausting day.

Day 2

Rest is paramount to any human being but I found it hard to catch a break as I had the hackathon to look forward to the following day. The objective was to develop a line following robot, which meant that I spent the better part of the night soldering some broken connections and getting our robot, Ludwig, ready for the next day.

My team, Ian Kibandi, Steve Munene and I, did not implement any adaptive control to our program at first but later on, we incorporated another control system, whose name is too embarrassing to mention. In the first track, Ludwig was able to finish the race fastest but lost on the second track which consisted of three laps.

We managed to finish first runner-up to Sammy Oina and ahead of Michael Kimani, Washington Kamadi and Felix Wanyoike and Spencer Mogire. This challenge provided some valuable insights on how to tackle our final year projects.

What Motivated Me to take part in JKUATSESTechWeek

I believe that with engineering we can make the world a better place by building products that empower and motivate lives. The purpose behind this event was to overcome today’s challenge for a better tomorrow.

Most Memorable Moment

When I entered the room, I immediately felt everyone’s energy and excitement. One of the most memorable moments was when Buni and Nakuja talked to us about their mission and some of the key issues they are currently facing. It was such a motivating moment and sparked even more ideas.
The free swag, food 🤣, and new friends made the experience even more memorable.

Thank You Note

I am grateful to have been a part of this event, as an organiser, as a speaker and as an attendee. One of the ways to build one’s skill is by participating in such events. I did that in every way possible.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. ” — Steve Jobs

Thanks to the JKUATSES community, JKUAT, and our sponsors, Microsoft, Africastalking, Elarian and Moringa School. A special shout out to the organising committee and JKUAT SES alumni and alumnae for making this event, JKUATSESTechWeek an experience so memorable and motivating.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

If you liked this article, click the👏 below so other people will see it here on Medium.

Let’s be friends on Twitter. Happy Coding 😉