The 5th Multidisciplinary Conference and Innovation Week officially began this morning with great excitement and anticipation. The event was attended by important dignitaries from Mombasa and beyond, including H.E. Salim Mvurya, the Cabinet Secretary of Mining, Blue Economy and Maritime Affairs, who was the chief guest. Other guests included Professor Friederike Meinel from the Academy of Art in Szczecin, Poland, Kwale County Assembly Speaker Hon. Seth Mwatela Kamanza, Mr Hamisi Mwaguya, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kenya Maritime Authority, Ms Annistain Ann Mogaka, Director of Kenya Maritime Authority, and Mr Mahmud Noor, Founder of Swahilipot Hub, among others.

The TUM fraternity welcomed His Excellency, Salim Mvurya, and his entourage with a guard of honour performed by the TUM cadets. The esteemed guests were also taken through the different innovations by TUM students.

Thereafter, TUM's Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Registrars, Deans, lecturers, and students gathered at the assembly hall for the official opening of the event.

In his keynote speech, His Excellency Salim Mvurya expressed his excitement to be part of this conference and engage with different researchers and experts, especially because his government role is also multi-disciplinary. He lauded TUM for being champions of maritime education and producing well-trained seafarers. Hon. Mvurya further expressed his desire to assist TUM in thriving even further in the Maritime industry by channelling grants to the institution in the near future. Additionally, he gladly shared that he shall be sponsoring the top five students of Maritime education, as a way of showing his support for maritime affairs and the institution.

Hon. Mvurya also shared the great news recently that a new road is currently being constructed in Kwale that leads to TUM's Kwale Site. Moreover, President Ruto and the County Government, led by Hon. Fatuma Achani, have identified an area around TUM Kwale Site where a new city will be built. The project is set to be launched after Ramadan, and the President will attend. The construction of the new city will significantly enhance the growth prospects of the institution and its people.

Professor Laila Abubakar warmly welcomed and thanked the attendees and emphasized the importance of this conference as a platform to instigate collaborations, build partnerships, promote creativity and forward-thinking approaches, incentivize innovation, and support risk-taking in addressing the complex challenges we face today.

As the institution embarks on the paramount journey of technological integration, the goal is to prepare the learners not just for jobs, but for careers that demand adaptability and agility. The students are nurtured to thrive in an era of artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality, with confidence and creativity.

Additionally, Professor Laila shed light on how economic freedom is intricately tied to innovation and creation. This is present in our TVET systems, where learners' creativity is nurtured and they are equipped with problem-solving skills and critical-thinking techniques to become architects of economic growth.

DVC-ARE, Prof. Peter Gichangi underscored that innovation flourishes at the intersection of disciplines, and this multidisciplinary conference is meant to facilitate cross-pollination among disciplines, fostering the creation of groundbreaking solutions to tomorrow's challenges. 

Before the chief guest's departure, he participated in a tree-planting activity within TUM premises as an effort to address the adverse effects of climate change.

In addition to the paper presentations and innovation exhibitions, TUM in collaboration with Swahili Pot Hub, ICP Hub-Kenya, Afribot Robotics and Web 3 Clubs, will also be hosting yet another captivating 3-day Blockchain Hackathon and Robotics Competition. This serves as a platform for the young upcoming engineers to exhibit their innovations in Robotics pitching and presentation of their Web 3D programming in the BlockChain Hackathon to attract sponsorship that will accelerate them to the next level.

During the opening session, Mr. Jasin Owili, CEO of Afribot Robotics and an alumnus of TUM, challenged the participants to learn about current technology to stay relevant, regardless of their career path. The robotics competition is designed to help them widen their knowledge and build solutions that are ready for industry use. Mr. Owili also spoke about the significance of preparing young people for the dynamic world of technology and automation, emphasizing the importance of TUM as an institution of higher learning and a hub of innovations. He reiterated his commitment to collaborating with TUM students to ensure their robots are competition-ready. The competition attracted not only university students but also Allidina Visram students and Swahili Pot Hub interns.

As the 5th Multidisciplinary Conference and Innovation Week officially kicks off, we look forward to hearing from more keynote speakers from different fields, participating in critical plenary discussions, and engaging in enlightening cross-sector conversations. The week will also include stimulating workshops on creative design thinking and personal development programs designed specifically for TUM student innovators.

Tags: TUM, Multidisciplinary Conference, Innovation Week, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Mentorship, Blue Economy, Technology, Health