Not many people know Dr. Terry Kahuma as a teacher and academician having rose to national fame as the executive director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), a government agency mandated with ensuring that products and services offered to Ugandans are of the right usable quality.
He has however worked with defunct Uganda Electricity Board (UEB) and Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited (UETCL) as an engineer in different capacities including taking on managerial roles.
Dr. Kahuma who holds a PHD in engineering started as an assistant lecturer before moving to Nigerian Universities as a lecturer. He now takes on his new role at Dean Faculty Science and Technology at Jinja Road based Victoria University. In the the below he explains his plans for the university and Uganda as a nation. Read on.
Dr Kahuma, It’s indeed an honour to meet you today. It’s also interesting to know that you are now working with Victoria University. Please share with our readers what you do at Victoria University.
I am Dean, Faculty of Science and Technology at Victoria University. My responsibility is to ensure that there is efficient and timely transfer of pertinent knowledge and skills to the students to enable them contribute to national growth, while earning themselves a decent livelihood through gainful employment or entrepreneurship and economic self-sufficiency.
I must also ensure that the university obtains value to enable the investment grow steadily, as well as looking after the provision of adequate facilities and remuneration for genuine work performed by the teaching and support staff in accordance to approved policies. My position seeks to build professionalism in the students and an early linkage to industry through internship, as well as supporting research and innovation in the development of viable social, commercial and industrial applications.
What excites you about being at Victoria University?
The university has an excellent location in the Central Business District, making access by students and stakeholders easy using the cheapest means of transport. The building currently hosting the university is beautiful, spacious, meticulously finished with state-of –the –art materials and features, and the overall working environment is lovely and enabling while being secure and modern with appealing décor and upholstery.
It has an enormous underground parking together with clean and functional lifts. In addition, the university has friendly and co-operative staff, well - equipped laboratories, well-stocked library with ICT operating systems, lecture rooms and offices all of which are essential for serious work and research. All this is exciting as a workplace.
What uniqueness do you bring to the leadership at Victoria University?
A record of work at four universities outside Uganda, field experience in electrical engineering of 10 years in a major parastatal, managerial experience of 10 years as Executive Director of a government agency, and private consulting work of five years. This is a unique mix which give balance between theory, practice and managerial experience at a top level. It will definitely enrich my classroom interaction with my students and my contributions in administrative work towards the growth of the university.
There are a number of other colleges and institutions that offer Computer science and IT. Why should a parent send their child to do the programme at Victoria University
Victoria University has a competitive edge over other universities in three key areas in teaching IT.
Firstly the IT infrastructure is quite extensive, modern and used on a low student ratio, mostly one to one usage mapping, so there is intensive, personalized full-time availability of well-networked and administered computers, which enables quick learning and more complete grasp by the student.
Secondly, the callibre of lecturers is well trained and experienced to deliver the courses, which are IEEE compliant, based on the latest guidelines for degree programmes, developed and agreed by the joint task force on computing curricula within the IEEE computer society. The lectures are delivered in a hassle-free environment using smartboards. All students have a free laptop provided by the university.
Thirdly, there is a programme of internship under which students are attached to the IT sections of serious enterprises to acquire field experience. This enables our students to appreciate industrial application of systems and software covered in class, and they move on to innovation of more advanced applications due to contact with such experts.
What is the future of ICT?
ICT as a field of study is very secure, and it will gain relevance in all fields of human endeavor in the future. All machinery, manufacturing processes, media systems, health programmes and procedures, entertainment, transport, engineering, warfare, mining, agro-processing, education, sports, communication, supermarkets, policing, research, social interaction, banking, advertising, film etc are underpinned by systems using ICT to control, protect, calculate, compare, tabulate, synchronise, determine, regulate, report, etc. Thus a student with qualifications and competence in ICT is assured of opportunities for employment or self-employment for a long time ahead.
Do you have any hopes of offering certified programmes in ICT?
Certainly. Victoria University is determined to equip its students with necessary specialized skills in the ICT and other areas to the highest level in keeping with the needs of industry and the job market.
Share some tips for success for prospective students and their parents
The key to success is realizing the existence of opportunity, and then moving in to grab that opportunity through the acquisition of the following: knowledge, capacity to analyse correctly, skills, discipline, contacts, exposure, determination, doggedness, broad vision to expand means of attaining objective and avoiding tunnel vision, networking, capacity to bear setbacks and move on, capacity to raise performance targets, keeping with the leading pack.
What is in store for 2017?
2017 will see a broadening of our course coverage to embark on engineering programmes, particularly electrical engineering and telecommunications engineering. The aim of this initiative is to enable Victoria University to enlarge the skills base of our students to serve in wider sectors of the economy where opportunities exist for practical engineering professionals.
We would like our graduates to have skills that remain pertinent to the economic broadening of the economy and to participate in engineering design, operation, construction, repair, installation, maintenance, power system control, generation, transmission, distribution etc. This expansion will happen in other disciplines like health sciences, humanities and business studies as well.
Any closing remarks for our readers?
Victoria University is your university. It shares your vision of a growing and developing nation, and its duty is to train the required manpower for this development. The efforts taken in constructing, manning and equipping this university goes beyond the profit motive. It is an overriding desire to contribute in the development of our country. So I appeal to students and parents to join the VU family, participate in our programmes and together we move the nation forward. Thank you.