Collaboration between UETCL-CEDAT: CEDAT hosts the collaboration strategy workshop

The College of Engineering, Design, Art, and Technology (CEDAT) entered into a partnership with Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Ltd (UETCL) as one of the strategies to step up the Industry-Academia Partnership.

CEDAT hosted a 2-day UETCL-CEDAT collaboration strategy workshop from the 6th to the 7th of March 2024 as one of the initial steps in the actualization of the provisions of the memorandum of understanding signed some time back between the two institutions.

While making opening remarks at the event attended by participants from both CEDAT and UECTL, The Dean, School of Engineering, Assoc. Prof. Dorothy Okello noted that the strategy workshop was one of the first fruits of the journey that started with the signing of the MoU with UECTL.  We have used a different approach in how we action this MOU and it will be a more sustainable way, she said, while explaining that the workshop would clarify not only what was to be done in the short term or activity by activity basis but also how to carry this forward on a long term.

The Dean, School of Engineering, Assoc. Prof. Dorothy Okello while making opening remarks

She said in the partnership arrangement, two aspects were looked at namely the research component and the training aspect. ‘You are all alive to the comments that the engineers coming out can do nothing, they only know brain power, and they have no skills’, she observed, noting that such statements that they often get confronted with were a concern to the academia.  She said at CEDAT this was a big challenge because the college takes on the best brains in the country. We are challenged to think seriously about what we do with them so that at the end of their four-year training, they come out as the best contributors to national development, she said.

The Dean explained that the college had done a lot of soul-searching through the UNESCO project supported graduate tracer studies and the labor market analysis.  She said one thing that has resonated across the board was the need to have closer collaboration with the industry. 

Dr. Okello said although the college undertakes curriculum reviews every four to five years,things were changing very rapidlyin the field of Technology, coupled with the need to keep close tabs onthe industry to figure out how to keep adjusting the curriculum.  She said the process of reviewing the curriculum includes one or two stakeholder workshops which may not be adequate. If we walk closely on a day-by-day basis with the industry, it means that we shall be better aligned with what the industry is looking for and also for the industry to appreciate what it is that we are doing, she said, while emphasizing the need for increased and improved relations between the industry and the academia.

She said there was some work to be done by the Industry since academia cannot handle everything and that through such partnerships, the two were to mutually support each other by identifying what each needed from the other for a smoother journey towards realizing the goal.

In addition to having open communication channels, Dr. Okello proposed having a joint steering committee involvingother stakeholders that influence what the two parties do for example Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA).  She said other stakeholders like the Government of Uganda were making a great contribution through the research and innovation fund which has to date supported several research activities.

In the area of training, she said it was important that focus be put on improving industrial trainingand that the partnership was an opportunity to strengthen how it is delivered.  Given the ever-increasing demand for industrial training, the model has to change, and the fact that we need to increase our local content contribution to our development she observed.

The Deputy CEO of UECTL, Matsiko Richard extended a welcome to the Makerere University fraternity to share knowledge and ideas to realize the growth of the industry.  He said UECTL has five licenses, to export and import power to and from neighboring countries, which called for efficiency, and hence the need to work with CEDAT, Makerere University to keep losses at minimal levels. The other license is to operate a high-voltage grid above 33,000 volts. He said UECTL is licensed as a system operator which involves supervising other players the distributors and generators, the other license allows the purchase of power from other generators and sell it to the distributors or export it.

Deputy Chief Executive Officer UECTL Eng. Richard Matsiko

He extended appreciation to CEDAT for the opportunity in the collaboration which he described as an important step in the right direction. Research and training are a foundation for engineering and once we succeed there, there will no doubt we shall be taking on well-qualified and competent engineers whose contribution will go a long way to stabilize the power system and make it more efficient.  Matsiko said UECTL would support whenever possible and welcome theCEDAT fraternity at UECTLat any time.  One of UECTLs strategic goals is to attract and retain talent and through such arrangements, this is very possible, he observed. Want to participate in such engagements that help train and builda strong foundation for engineers so that when we take them on, they are worthwhile.

The Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at CEDAT Dr. Abubaker Wasswa Matovu said the collaboration has been running for some time.  He expressed optimism that the collaboration would strengthen the ties between CEDAT and UECTL. We hope that through this collaboration we can dig deeper into several research areas that the students and staff can engage in to produce viable solutions for UECTL, he said.

The Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at CEDAT Dr. Abubaker Wasswa Matovu

Dr. Abubaker Wasswa Matovu noted that through the Memorandum of Understanding, CEDAT started realizing some fruits like researchfunding. He said the college had some labs that needed to be modernized, to be able to handle several things.

He said the strategy workshop was to make clearer the respective business for the two organizations and how through research endeavors CEDAT can push UECTL business forward and make them the market leaders not only in Uganda but also in the region.It is our wish that through such endeavors we shall not only build Makerere and UECTL but also the country of Uganda, he noted.

By Harriet Musinguzi, Principal Communication Officer, CEDAT

Posted by Isemaghendera Alex, Web Administrator, CEDAT