Two TVET institutions of Kiambu Institute of Technology (KIST) and Masinga TVC are today facing off with Dedan Kimathi Institute of Technology for the top three positions on the final day of the WorldSkills Kenya Mechatronics competition.

KIST team of Victoria Wanjiku and Disrael Ngeresa and Kennedy Munene and Margret Wanjiku from Masinga TVC qualified to the finals after edging out Philip Misikho and Furqan Hashim of North Eastern National Polytechnic and students of Katine TTI in the TVET category of the competition yesterday.

While the team of Elsie Makara and Maxwell Magoi and that of Audrey Nzilani and Joanna Oluoch from the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology proceeded to finals after outshining their college mates Edwin Ngari and Brian Mwangi from the same institution at the university category.

The competition lead expert Prof. Jean Bosco Byiringiro, said the four teams- two from TVET institutions and the other two from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology will today basically do the same task they did yesterday but from different work stations.

“They didn’t accomplish some of the tasks they were assigned yesterday and that is why we want them to repeat and ensure the Human Machine Interface (HMI) is properly communicating with the Programmed Logic Controller (PLC). During testing they will not use the laptops but will instead use HMI interface machine,” Prof. Byiringiro said.

“Unlike yesterday, we have assigned 50 per cent of the total marks on how the students have programmed and connected the HMI interface while other 50 per cent will be awarded to the teams based on how they have assembled, wired and programmed the PLC, the safety of the workstation and how they communicate the outcome of their work.”

Principal Masinga TVC Mr Kennedy Njoroge, who is one of the judges in the competition, said the competition has provided huge exposure to both the students and trainers participating in the competition either as judges and observers.

“As a trainer, the participation model where students were trained for two weeks with the interaction of their trainers opened them up to practical aspects of mechatronics using different, but similar technology. As a judge, the competition provided seriousness and opportunities for the competitors to continually improve and perfect their newly acquired skills as the competition progressed.”

Mr Njoroge said his college is lucky to have participated in the AVIC International Mechatronics competition held at KTTC in 2019, where one of his students emerged as the winner in the competition. The exposure enabled him to prepare his team, which has now reached the finals.

He said, which Mechatronics is fairly a new course, it has started attracting the interests of both students and parents. His college has now 12 students in the course from just one last year.

“The introduction of the Mechatronics course in the KUCCPS database is bound to improve significantly the entry behavior of the course. By WorldSkills Kenya preparing to have students from Kenya participate in the WorldSkills Competition, the course will gain much-needed recognition. The intention is for TVETA, WSI, DeKUT and TVET institutions to create synergy so that the competition can be held annually and the institution can be encouraged to participate while observing the age-group 23 years for participants.

In Kenya, there are only 13 TVET institutions offering Mechatronics course. Eleven of these colleges sent teams to the ongoing competition. As for Universities, it is only Jomo Kenya University of Agriculture and the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology that are offering the course.

However, a number of colleges including Moi University have sent lecturers and students as observers in the competition, with a focus to introduce the course and participate in future competitions.

TVET institutions use Mitsubishi PLC machines while the Dedan Kimathi University of Technology uses PLC machines, which are recognized by WorldSkills International.