Industry Immersion: The Root of Innovation and Progress
STEM, an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is an academic and industrial discipline that drives much of what we consider to be innovation. It attracts some of the best and brightest of every generation and ensures that as a society, we continue to progress forward. A highly technical discipline, it requires both academic instruction and industry experience. But how do our future engineers, techies, scientists and mathematicians bridge the gap between the classroom and the workplace?
The truth is, some don’t.
The Bridge Between
At the conception of the Industry Innovation program, the team at AIMS (Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences) identified a gap between graduates and professionals. A gap that is difficult to navigate, many struggled. AIMS saw an opportunity to transform the lives of young African STEM majors by partnering with EMST (European School of Management and Technology) Berlin, the top business school in Germany, to create a program that imparts in students of STEM, managerial, organizational skills and behavioral competencies, that are invaluable in industry.
This was the beginning of the Industry Immersion program, designed to build a bridge for the brilliant mathematical minds to navigate their way into industry. The program began in 2017 with 25 AIMS students in South Africa. It grew into Rwanda and Ghana and has since expanded to Kenya and Cameroon with 100 students in their 2022 cohort.
The Industry Immersion program is currently on its second cohort in Kenya. This was made possible through a strategic partnership with Strathmore University.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, AIMS was challenged to consider how to continue training STEM graduates and prepare them for an ever changing work environment. They believed that there is value in classroom interactions and wanted to retain that as much as possible. They partnered with Academics Without Borders to bring the program to Kenya through Strathmore University and in 2021, the first group of students began the Industry Immersion program.
The program is a fully-funded 20-week residential Industry Immersion Program that offers STEM students the opportunity to contribute to the economic transformation of Africa through a practical, skills-based employability program.
Twenty innovative and industry oriented Strathmore students were shortlisted for the 2022 cohort. Their specialties range from Financial Engineering, Informatics and Computer Science, Actuarial, Telecommunications and Business Information Technology.
2022 Program Launch
Students, faculty and partners gathered online from across the world to celebrate the launch of the 2022 program. Throughout the launch, it was clear to see that partnerships were at the core of the program. The partnership with ESMT provided a basis on which the program was built – it took the competencies from Germany’s top business school to create uniquely African solutions. Strathmore University was highlighted as an institute partner that supported the vision to expand this free program across Africa.
The backbone of the program is a 12-week internship module with participating industry partners, beginning five weeks after the program starts, during which participants will experience a business environment first hand and apply their academic learning. The edtech platforms chosen to teach across borders were Engageli, used to create engaging live virtual, hybrid, and in-person learning experiences and Insendi for self-study sessions with pre-uploaded content and features to communicate with lecturers and program managers. Harvard Business Publishing provided all the case studies for this year’s program. The platforms and services were provided free of charge to support AIM’s mission.
During the launch, Elias Kaburu, Faculty Manager, Institute of Management Sciences speaking on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, spoke of Dr Vincent Ogutu’s personal commitment to the program and Strathmore University’s continued support of the partnership. “Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to be part of this great program. I look forward to future sessions we may have together and to a very engaging program with fellow students.” He went on to thank all the Strathmore University members of staff for the dedication and hard work put into furthering the partnership and running the program smoothly.
Impact on Society
“Learning the STEM material and competencies during the courses is one thing, but learning how to apply them in the workforce is something else entirely”.
STEM disciplines are the foundation of the innovation and progress that build societies. It is critical that we support young professionals and integrate them successfully into the workforce. Undergraduate courses in Engineering, Informatics and Computer Science shape and inform and the Industry Immersion Program equips and prepares a well-rounded and capable professional who will leave their mark on society.
This article was written by Celia Kinuthia.
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