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What is the intent of community engagement at UTAMU?

This week, the community engagement training kicked off at UTAMU and will run until end of July 2018.

A UTAMU instructor conducting the community engagement training.

This training being attended by first year computing students is to help them attain professional experience before joining the job market.

Every year, UTAMU gets students placement in various community projects and organizations where they train. The UTAMU mode of teaching requires students to spend four months every year working on community projects and in organizations. The News team caught up with Mr. Eugene Miheso Swinnerstone, a lecturer at UTAMU as he explained the aim and benefits of this community engagement training.

What is the intent of community engagement at UTAMU? 

The Intent of the Community engagement is to work more closely with local community partners to promote to uphold the theoretical bits that the trainees have acquired during their time of study at the University. This affinity between the theoretical and practical perspectives, are the ones that are meant to distinguish a graduate and a graduate trainee in the explosive competitive job market in this new era. 

The University taking mantle to formalise this into a curriculum-based aspect, adds value to all the interested trainees. Though, for now this is being encouraged for computing students, the Vision is to have students with interdisciplinary collaboration thrive. So, therefore, I will want to encourage even some candidates from the School of Business and Management to be part of this training because at the end of the day, not only will a programmer make a product great, but the input of all people involved in it. The more panel beat a product is from different professions, the better it matters. 

Why start with computing students? 

Computing students are the first to be considered by the nature of complexity of their subjects and finding the right bearing between the practical bit and the theoretical bit. So the intent is to have them have a practical hands on approach and by the time they are going out to do community outreach at the end of second year, they practically have a clue how on; what work environment looks like,  ethics to be applied in a workplace and acclimatization of metrics. 

But I would like to reiterate that this program is open to any other candidate from any other school. The first cohort of this engagement saw through one student from the Business School and that’s commendable. 

What is the importance of this training? 

This training has a lot of merits and this includes:

  • Giving the students/ trainees the opportunity to own and align their opinions. This might sound a bit of a juggle but empowering a person to own up to what they are doing especially at a Trainee Level is a key characteristic of producing the right material for the community to embrace in.
  • More perspectives are sought and this will definitely increase the tactfulness and improve the thought process of the trainees. Even better, they will be having Chess Classes every Friday and this should even enhance this even better.
  • Network: Your Network is Your Networth. This Trainees will be having Wednesday sessions where they will meet industry persons from different backgrounds and the intention is they can learn a couple of things from them and more so network and that’s the start of a whole new level of engagement right there.
  • Ownership and General Jolly: The intent of this program is to make serious stuff fun. At the end of this program, the trainee should be able to feel satisfied with the product they created and being part of the program, of course NO LAZINESS is entertained; everybody is got to hold their end of the bargain. The house rules are very clear and the trainees know what will happen in case they construe them. 

What should students expect from this community engagement? 

There are five major interest Areas but other are implied, this include:

  • Technical Training in Agile Software Development using a number of tools
  • Client engagement and communication skills
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Teamwork skills

At the end of the Training, the anticipation is that in their respective groups we will have some products the trainees can showcase not only to the training team but the faculty and University at large.



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