June 22, 2022

Day

Gayaza girls eager to study sciences at UCU: An outreach tale

By Mercy Auma Gabriella

A team of three from the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Department of Computing and Technology went to Gayaza High School, upon invitation for a Careers’ Day on Saturday, June 18, 2022. The team included Justine Mukalere, Patience Ankunda and myself, Mercy Auma Gabriella.

We set off from UCU in a private 14- seater van courtesy of the University. We carried along with us branded publicity materials, including UCU brochures, banners and flyers. But most importantly, our UCU-molded personality.

On sight, we were greeted by the Head Girl of Gayaza High School, who led us past the other teams from companies ad organizations like the Ministry of Works, Law Society, and Civil Aviation Authority, among others. She ushered us to a tent labeled “UCU”. Before we could even start setting up, a swarm of girls gathered around hovering over us with anticipation to hear what we had to share with them. Immediately, we introduced ourselves and began to interact with the young women.

Mercy interacts with some girls from Gayaza, at the UCU stall. Photo/ Courtesy.

The Career Day was organized in a way that Senior six and Senior five girls had the first hour of interaction with all the facilitators. They would then be followed by Senior four and Senior three girls for the next hour, then lastly, the Senior two and Senior one girls.

Our Experience: “Demystifying Uganda Christian University”

I speak for my colleagues when I say, the Gayaza girls were highly inquisitive: They wanted to know what UCU is, what it stands for, and how the university could serve their diverse career path interests.

Some of them had myths UCU was “strict” and “law and theology-centered”. In fact, they may have been surprised that we were wearing trousers instead of extremely long, nun-like skirts. In the delusion, they likened the strictness to that of a secondary school.

Patience Atukunda, one of the three UCU representatives/facilitators has a one-on-one with a Gayaza student. Photo/Courtesy.

Blessedly, Ankunda and I, both of us alumnae of UCU, and most recent graduates readily debunked the myths, to the students’ satisfaction: Matter of fact, they later marveled at the fact that UCU has many science-oriented courses it offers including Engineering, Information Tech, Agricultural Sciences, Computer Sciences, Accounting and Finance, and many more.

In sum, several of the students that approached the tent with questions left satisfied and certain that the University had something to offer in order to support their different passions. From agriculture enthusiasts to robotics fans, the girls were each guided on the courses they could take to further their passions.

Overall, I would like to thank God, UCU, the Department of Computing and Technology, and the three representatives from the Department for making the experience worthwhile for both the students of Gayaza High School and 

the University as a whole. More outreaches need to be done so that UCU’s bright light that has been shining for the past 25 years, is not hidden.

The trio share a photo moment after the outreach, at Gayaza High School. Photo/ Courtesy.

Digital Praxis: Young innovators hold first boot camp

By Emmanuel Isabirye

10 student teams have undergone Phase one of the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Digital Innovation Praxis Challenge. The phase dubbed ‘Understanding the User’ Ideation Bootcamp took place at the Hamu Mukasa Library, UCU, on Saturday, June 18.

The student teams were trained by digital innovation experts from the UCU Department of Computing and Technology in what is technically called the “structured and human-centered approach”, which involves quick and iterative building and refining of a product/service that would suit the needs of an end consumer.

Emmanuel Isabirye guides one of the student-innovators, Jacqueline Ainabyoona . Photo/ courtesy

During the training, Emmanuel Isabirye, the Co-Team Lead of the UCU Digital Praxis emphasized that “Designing innovations without understanding the user can be socially harmful, time-consuming and cost-inefficient,” he said.

Jacqueline Ainabyoona a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT), who is doing a project in Digital Agriculture says she learned the value of empathy; putting herself in the shoes of the user in crafting her “My farm” solution, which embraces crowd-farming to enable those who cannot afford to set up farms to rear cattle on a shared basis.

Hereafter, the teams will then be guided to do research, analysis & further rethink their innovations. At the end of the first phase, every student team shall have a well-researched problem, a theoretical solution that meets the user’s needs, and a visual sketch of the solution.

Student-innovators learning during the boot camp. Photo/ Courtesy.

Phase two will consist of prototyping and testing, where the teams shall develop a working prototype that innovatively solves the identified problem. The prototype shall be the proof-of-concept from the teams. Hereafter, the teams will advance to stage 3.

In phase three, a widely-publicized event shall be organized for the student teams to pitch their innovative solutions to the identified problems. The three best teams shall be selected and awarded cash gifts to further improve their projects.

The final (fourth) phase will consist of marketing the student’s innovations to attract potential funders for possible scaling up of the innovations.

An illustration chat.