Alliance High School recently hosted a Computing and Robotics Fair to nurture an innovative approach to problems solving among students.
Hosted at the school, the fair drew together participants from other secondary schools in the region, including the Nova Pioneer Academy, Alliance Girls, the Nairobi School among others.
During his welcome note at the Fair, Walter Ombiro, the Head of IT at Alliance High said, “Students you are the makers of the future and you must start today. Africa has been an importer of technology for the longest time a narrative that young generation must change.” Adding; “Alliance High School welcomes you to this fair to help you understand the basic need for innovation to the society and to help grow such talents walking into the future.”
The Computing and Robotics Fair was conceptualized in 2017 by an alumnus of the host school and would officially start one year later in 2018.
The old student, a former IT captain at Alliance, only knew too well to innovate solutions for societal problems after his forth form. His advancements were frustrated though as he barely found peers to resonate with and to take challenge from.
He then approached Ombiro, who like he expected, granted his request to roll out an innovative fair to the students. Ombiro would then incorporate the completion element that allows for peer schools to participate. The duo then named it The Alliance High School Computing and Robotics Fair (AHS-CRF).
Arial Boutcher, the brain behind the fair, attended the second AHS-CRF and gave pieces of encouragement to students especially girls to embrace innovation while in school so as to have the practical or hands on skillset on how to solve societal problems when through with secondary education.
“Innovation ignites a passion for learning and provides students with the tools they need to succeed in this competetive economy,” said Boucha who has innovated his life into fame.
At the annual event on its second year running, students were give four minutes to pitch on innovative solutions categorized as follows;
- Mobile App development (Android/IOS/Windows)
- Hardware Programming (Robotics, Open hardware (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel)
- Software Engineering (Python, C++, Java, Microsoft Azure)
- Website technologies (HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL).
Winners were drawn from each of the above categories with a winner for boys and girls and an overall winner who was the AHS-CRF 2019 Champions, a tittle carried by Nairobi School.
Students generally viewed the event as informative and liking the interactive element of the fair. I spoke to a few of them who had this to say;
Ashley Samantha, a form two student at Alliance Girls said, “It has been a nice experience, I like the competing element because I’ve learnt a lot from my peers. I wish to participate even in future so as to sharpen my skills through this exchange.”
Ashley was part of the Alliance Girls team that presented a solution on an electro-quake machine that can convert earthquake vibrations into electro-energy for power and other industrial uses and will eliminate any possible destruction as caused by earthquakes.
Another student, Benson Mwangi from the host school could not hide his joy for having part of the team. Although his bubble was burst that Alliance did not win, and for two years in a row, Mwangi wishes to carry on with the fair eyeing the big win in the coming year.
He said, “Innovative ideas always start small, students should not shy off for having small ideas. N matter how small the idea seems, just work around bettering it. The impact of such small ideas to the society can be massive in future.”
Mwangi was a member of a two-man team called Artechx, that provided solutions around the adverse effects of acid rains by installing digital gas sensors that would detect excess Sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere. He also designs phone covers made of a technology that enables the covers to scavenge for body heat, changing it to electro-energy thereby recharging the phones without the need for electricity.
A member of the Nova Pioneer Academy that carried the BEST Girls school award input her thoughts about the AHS-CRF. Unable to hide her joy after what she called as tough win, Nelly Pation said, “This is a great platform for learning. I like how ideas are shared and the challenges judges give you opens you up to a new way of reasoning.”
Nelly’s team pitched on a ‘Quick Health’ app to help with the ever slow responses from ambulances companies at emergency times. The solutions offered by QuickHealth are among others; ambulance services that responds almost immediately to emergency and that do not require an upfront payment as has been the norm.
Brian Sanare, the youngest of all the participants and a form one student at Alliance High was elated at the fair. He says that of all the inter school competitions he has been part, this left an indelible mark.
This is a great learning opportunity, says Brian, adding, “For me, it is a start of something great, maybe my career path.”
Brian vowed on his continuity with the fair going forward even promising that his team will emerge the overall best in the coming years. Good luck to that dream!
Finally, I talked to the current IT captain at Alliance High, Eddy Ogola who individually pitched on a healthcare project he calls Tunza.
On his closing remarks, Ogolla wittily encouraged losers of the day that there is always another day to make a change that brings a next chance to better skills. He commended the brains behind the fair and confessed having not settled into any clubs in the school until the IT joining the It Club, where he calls home. His advice surpasses the brick and mortar that is classrooms for students and surges the zeal even into the entire society to just innovate around their problems.
He says, “Let us create a Silicon Valley in Africa and Kenya and stop importing solutions that we can innovate back home. It is all in the mind, it is achievable.”
Ms Laura Chite, CEO of CIO East Africa who was present for the awarding ceremony, encouraged the students further to innovate their lives out of poverty. She reminded them of the perennial unemployment problem in the country that has unfortunately grown upwards in the recent past.
“There are no jobs in Kenya, and the available few are all taken by the older generation that is not about to leave them soon,” says Ms Chite. She adds, “Embrace innovative approaches to solve problems in the society and commercialize your solutions. Be employers not employees.”
She encouraged the girl child to uphold the technology journey even into work places, reminding the potential next generation of Women in Technology of the unpopular 1:10 ratio of women to men in the technology space. Her ask for the girl is to achieve gender parity in the tech industry.
Other guests included representation from the three other sponsors that is together with KIPI, Serianu, and Zalego. Together with CIO East Africa, the three had worked towards the success of the computing and robotics fair, working closely with Alliance High, the host school.
Alliance High School, through the ICT department headed by Walter Ombiro, wishes to convey utmost gratitude to all the partners and sponsors of the fair.
“We could not make it without your invaluable support our sponsors and partners, thank you,” read part of his thank you notes to the partners.
Look out for updates about the next computing and robotics fair, AHS-CRF 2020 to participate.