Faculty Drives Sustainable Design Through Tech at NIW 2024

The Faculty of Built Environment and Design actively participated in the 8th Edition of the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW 2024), held on May 8th -10th, 2024. The event brought together key stakeholders to discuss accelerating innovation in the built environment and design sector in line with the theme Accelerating Innovation in the Built Environment and Design Sector for Sustainable Development through Academia, Industrial, Intergovernmental Collaborations and Community Linkages."

The event featured keynote speakers who are leaders in their respective fields. Ms. Lorna Juma, Program Manager for Eastern Africa at Oracle Academy, highlighted the transformative power of technology in areas like project planning, property management, and architectural drafting. Arc. Alexander Mwangi Kamunyu, Project Manager at Konza Technopolis Development Authority, emphasized the use of geospatial technology in designing, planning, and managing settlements, showcasing its application in the Konza Technopolis project. Mr. Jacques Matara, Deputy Director of the Kenya Space Agency, stressed the importance of equipping students with the necessary technological skills to thrive in the job market.

The first session, moderated by Dr. Rose Kitur, Director of NEPAD Programmes at the EPAD/APRM Kenya Secretariat, explored "The Role of Digital Technology in the Built Environment and Design Industry." Panellists Ms. Juma and Arc. Kamunyu, alongside faculty members Arch. Musau Kimeu and Arch. Peter Njeru Njue, discussed how advancements in areas like modular construction, 3D printing, and artificial intelligence can revolutionize the sector.

The second session, moderated by Dr. Arthur Munyua Mwaura of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, addressed "Bridging the Gap between Academia, Built Environment Industry and Design Sector through Appropriate Training." Mr. Matara and Dr. Musyimi Mbathi (Urban and Regional Planning) along with Dr. Samuel M Maina (Department of Art & Design) explored ways to bridge the skills gap by integrating technology into curriculums and fostering collaboration between universities and industry through student exchange programs and internships.

The discussions highlighted the need to leverage technology for sustainable development in the built environment. There is a need for the university to leverage technology in areas such as modularization in construction, infrastructure and safety, property management, project planning, building engineering, planning, and architectural drafting. Additionally, the importance of technology in disaster management in human settlements and the building of resilient, inclusive, and smart cities were emphasized.

Key areas identified during the discussions included:

  • Disaster management: Utilizing technology to build resilient and smart cities to withstand future disasters like floods.
  • Technological proficiency: Equipping students with skills in construction robotics, 3D printing, drone technology, and AI for improved employment opportunities.
  • Policy and education reform: Re-engineering policies and educational structures to mainstream technology in the built environment and design sector.

By actively participating in NIW 2024, FBED demonstrated its commitment to fostering innovation and collaboration. The faculty's focus on sustainable development through technology positions it as a leader in shaping the future of the built environment in Kenya and beyond.