USIU-Africa opens $6.5 million science centre

Wednesday March 18 2015

Deputy President William Ruto cuts the ribbon

Deputy President William Ruto cuts the ribbon to officially open the USIU-Africa Science Centre. With him is the Vice-Chancellor Prof Freida Brown (left), the Chancellor Dr Manu Chandaria (right) and Mrs Aruna Chandaria. PHOTO | USIU  

United States International University (USIU)-Africa officially opened its science centre Monday with the Deputy President William Ruto as the chief guest.
The 7,500 square feet building whose construction commenced in September 2013 and has cost the institution over $6,530,967 (approximately KSh600 million) will house 11 modern classrooms fitted with high speed Wi-Fi and internet, 3 lecture theatres and 46 faculty and administrative offices.
The Bachelor of Pharmacy course that is scheduled to commence in May 2015 will be hosted in the building under the School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Speaking at the event, the deputy president emphasized the commitment of the government in partnering with the private education sector and industry leaders in developing a workforce that will further drive the nation’s economy.
He also urged the youth to explore opportunities in the government’s fully fledged community service volunteering program targeting university students.
The program’s purpose is to give students an opportunity to apply knowledge in needy communities across the country with an aim of not only enhancing their skills but to also empower the communities.
“The government is committed to constructing at least two level 4 and 5 hospitals at every county to decongest the current referral facilities. The USIU-Africa Pharmacy program therefore links to the country’s vision 2030 in delivering the human capital required to realize this vision,” added the deputy president.
He also stressed the importance of STEM programs as Science and Technology is vital in the progress of the nation if we are to bridge the gap between developing and developed countries.
In an effort to go beyond the traditional roles of research and teaching, USIU-Africa has partnered with industry leaders in its soon to commence Bachelor of Pharmacy program.
One such partnership is with GlaxoSmithKline that will see students benefit from the professional practical sessions. The institution also has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Machakos County to allow students to do their practicals at Machakos County Level 5 Hospital; to enhance learning.
Also present at the event was Cabinet Secretary for Education, Jacob Kaimenyi who encouraged the promotion of research from local scholars whilst engaging and learning from global best practices.
He also urged institutions to put in place stringent measures for ensuring quality control in the delivery of education, holding instructors accountable for their responsibilities.
To align the education sector to the demands of the economy, Prof Kaimenyi urged institutions of higher learning not to reduce education to mere ranking but rather emphasize on the importance of acquiring knowledge and expertise thus developing wealth creators.
As a measure to mitigate the country’s shortage in technical skillsets, the government has set aside $39,185,806 (KSh3.6 billion) to construct technical training institutes in all constituencies,” said Prof Kaimenyi.
In line with USIU-Africa’s drive to be energy efficient and sustainable, part of the design process was to ensure that the Building Sustainability Standards were followed as close as possible.
Environmentally-friendly features such as hot water solar panels on the roof have been incorporated for kitchen water usage, occupancy censors to ensure saving on power and plumbing fixtures were carefully chosen to minimize the use of water.
Based on the nature of activity that will be carried out in the building, security of occupants was essential. Security monitoring systems have therefore been integrated throughout the location with key areas that have access control. Emergency generated power has also been provided for on the premises for safety.
The use of high quality solar control, low energy glass and natural ventilation systems will also go a long way in reducing the amount of solar gain in the building.
Accessibility for the disabled at the state of the art building has been catered for as the various levels are vertically connected by lifts as well as ramps that are wide enough for the movement of laboratory trollies.
Irrigation of the new landscaping will be done with water that is collected from the new Science building and the library building.
The landscape designer also ensured that indigenous tree species that were uprooted to make way for the construction have now been planted around the new building.
In her remarks, the vice chancellor Prof Freida Brown, expressed her confidence that the faculty would not only continue their commitment in providing high standards of quality education but would also delve deeper into research and patent creation to the benefit of the continent.
“This ushers in a new era for USIU-Africa and reemphasizes our commitment to invest in offering of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs which will fundamentally improve the nation’s competitiveness in technology development and in turn transform our society and other parts of Africa through opportunities for new inventions,” said Prof Brown.
Prof Brown also urged the government to reinstate the VAT exemption on software, books, computers and other educational supplies which would assist private universities to maintain reasonable tuition rates.
Dr Manu Chandaria, the USIU-Africa Chancellor, in his remarks urged the government to cease interfering with the management of private institutions of higher learning but rather focus on developing meaningful engagement with the youth to drive lasting economic growth.