Nurturing Talent to Drive Science and Technology Innovations

“Innovation is about breaking the status quo and venturing where few have dared to go.” Steven Jeffes’ words resonate with the Nakuja Rocket project team. Their mission is to launch a liquid propellant rocket to put a nanosat into Low Earth’s Orbit (LEO) by 2025, while nurturing talent in science and technology innovation in Africa.

Led by Lawrence Mwadime, Junn Hope, Shabach Baraka, and Paul Munyao, the team of 19 engineering interns presented their progress on the N-3 rocket at JKUAT’s iPIC center on May 10, 2023.
Since June 2019, the team has been developing the rocket’s airframe, recovery, solid propulsion, and liquid engine under the guidance of JICA Expert, Africa-ai-Japan Project, Dr. Aoki and academic supervisors in various engineering fields including thematic areas of propulsion, avionics, airframe and flight control.

With the aim of establishing a rocket industry in Kenya, the team plans to establish an Aerospace Engineering research group with JKUAT staff and students to catalyse aerospace engineering capability in JKUAT. According to Dr. Aoki, the team have already achieved the first firing test of a solid rocket motor in March 2020, launched the N-1 rocket in May 2021, and the N-2 rocket in November 2022. Their next goal is to launch the N-3 solid propellant rocket and test the liquid rocket engine in 2023.

The Jibebe project team, led by Mr. Kiprono, Mr. Chege and Dr. Aoki, comprises 14 JKUAT engineering interns. The team presented their work on developing an electrified tractor at the same seminar. In line with supporting technological innovation and advancement, Dr. Aoki, birthed this idea when the iPIC sub-taskforce visited the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK) in June 2021. Their aim is to establish electrical vehicle research capability to assist the Kenyan industry’s rising demand for electric vehicles.

Both projects were lauded by Prof. Koaze and Dr. Ndiritu for their potential to drive economic growth and urged them to continue developing more innovations for societal development.

Dr. Anthony Muchiri, who coordinated the seminar, commended all the stakeholders involved and highlighted the event’s role in enhancing capacity development.

Video recoding of the seminar
Participants listening keenly during presentations
Jibebe Project Teams pose for commemorative photo after the seminar

(Posted by Esther Ndiwa)