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Strathmore students participate in a workshop in Austria

Ten highly motivated students from different faculties of Strathmore University were selected to participate in a Summer Semester Collaborative Lab (SSCoLab) in Austria organized by FH Burgenland University of Applied Sciences at their Pinkafeld campus. All expenses related to SSCoLab were funded by FH Burgenland and Harambee Africa.


The SSCoLab was the culmination of the project that has been running between the two institutions, Strathmore and FH Burgenland, from September-December 2013. This collaboration project consisted of three phases. Phase 1 was a 3-day Biomimicry workshop conducted by Austrian professors held in Strathmore in September on “Nature-Inspired Design for Sustainable Futures”. Twenty-eight students who were nominated by their respective faculties participated in the workshop.


Out of the 28, only nineteen continued on to the second phase which consisted of weekly on-line discussions with the Austrian engineering students to work on a nature-inspired innovation project. The students identified problems in energy and environmental challenges in Kenya and designed a solution to these challenges incorporating the life principles of Biomimicry. The Strathmore students provided the innovations, systems, processes and ideas from nature and natural organisms while the Austrian students translated these nature-inspired ideas into technological innovations applying their engineering know-how.


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Phase 2 concluded with project presentations which formed the major basis for selection of ten students to qualify for Phase 3 of the project which involved a 10-day trip to Austria in April 2014. The ten students came from different faculties: six from CTH, two from FIT, one from SLS and one from SFAE. They were accompanied by three lecturers.


The last phase of the project, SSCoLab, involved academic input in terms of lectures and project work in water and waste water management and innovations management. It also included field trips to ecological sites, and cultural events to strengthen interpersonal relations and cultural understanding.


The participants of the SSCoLab consisted of 29 Austrian students of energy and environmental engineering and 10 Strathmore students. They were then divided into five groups, with 2 Kenyans in each group, being given the task of designing a water system to provide drinking water to a hotel of 20-bed capacity near Lake Naivasha along the Malewa River. Each group came up with innovative ideas which they presented to a panel of six professors, three from FH Burgenland and three from Strathmore.


During the workshop, the professors selected one Austrian and one Kenyan student to appear in a national Austrian TV talk show featuring Biomimicry, a new science of learning from nature and then emulating its natural forms, processes and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs. The two students showed the prototype of their solar panel and water collection project based on the Biomimicry concept. Those interested to watch the TV show, please click on the link: http://www.servustv.com/de/Sendungen/TM-Wissen. The show is in German, though.