Veteran insurer Stain Singo inspires 17 young minds selected for MUST’s inaugural Vice-Chancellor Young Engineer Academy

Veteran insurer, Stain Singo — who is founder and chief executive officer of Smile Life Insurance Company — was guest of honour on Monday at Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) for the official launch of Vice-Chancellor Young Engineer Academy, where he inspired 17 young minds who were selected for the inaugural programme.

The first Vice-Chancellor’s Young Engineer Fellowship Programme intake will offer the young minds, drawn from various primary and secondary schools across the country, a one-week training programme in engineering and drone technology.

Vice-Chancellor, Address Malata initiated the programme in association with MUST Institute of Industrial Research and Innovation (MIIRI) and in partnership with UNICEF, who finances the African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA), which the University trains young African aged between 18 years and 24 years in drone and data technology.

Singo inspiring the young minds

Most of the youths in the ADDA programme, drawn across Africa, are either university students or would have graduated from university at a Bachelor’s Degree level, but Malata envisioned the Young Engineer Fellowship to introduce primary and secondary school going students to concepts in engineering and drone technology — in line with Malawi’s long term development blueprint, the MW2063, whose  key pillars are industrialisation, agricultural productivity, commercialisation and urbanisation.

Looking at the variety of ages of the first intake, with one as young as 14 and the oldest at 17 years old, Singo — taking cognizance of the tough challenge ahead of them in just five days — first inspired them to “remove from the minds the word ‘impossible’” saying they should have the “strong mentality that nothing is impossible in the world”.

“When growing up, my mother instilled in me that chopanda manja sichingakukanike (what doesn’t have hands is easy to manipulate),” he said, much to the amusement of the young minds.

“Reach out for your desired goals; aim by setting targets on what you want to achieve in life and step by step make sure you achieve them — remember, nothing is impossible in this world.”

He explained to them his background in insurance that finally led to founding Smile Life, which many executives in the industry gave him not more than three years before it folded.

Dr. Mkwambisi, Director of MUST’s MIIRI

“Today, Smile Life is in its 13 years old, has an asset portfolio worth billions of kwachas and employees and trains many people — some of whom are graduates.

“As you focus on drone technology and its management, you too will be employers as successful entrepreneurs in their own right and I am going to need your services because I am retiring soon to concentrate on farming.

“I and many farmers shall require services of drones as part of improving agriculture, which you must aim to provide in the long term future,” he said.

Representing Prof. Address Malawi — who was engaged in another equally important engagement — Director of MIIRI, Dr. David Mkwambisi also inspired the first intake by unfolding his background from a poor family to what he has achieved in life — with final lap to attain a PhD.

A demonstration of a drone in real life

In her prepared remarks, Prof. Malata said as “a progressive university sensitive of the happenings in its operating environment, MUST strives to always develop and implement cutting edge innovations to addressing emerging challenges and create a pool of skilled youths that are able to provide solutions to our national, regional and global challenges”.

“As a university, we opted to focus on industrialisation through human capital development, a MW2063 enabler of which I am an ambassador,” she said. “Today’s youths are technologically survy and we need to build on their inquisitive mind by giving them real life skills that would help them solve real life challenges.

“There is potential that their technological skills and efforts can be channelled towards negative and wrong areas, hence the need to deliberately shift their focus in this area to productive areas. This is where the Young Engineer Fellowship comes in.”

She added that being an expensive undertaking, the university has courted partners such as UNICEF Malawi, “with whom we have a long-standing collaboration through the African Drone and Data Academy.

“UNICEF Malawi have also come in to support needy rural students to ensure that the skills and exposure is not only restricted to those who are coming from well-to-do families or backgrounds.”

Of the 17 youths, five girls have been funded by the Vice-Chancelor — with financial support from Singo’s Smile Life — other five girls by UNICEF Malawi and the rest sponsored by their parents.

Malata said: “The problems facing Malawi, the region and the world at large, are not only affecting selected groups, hence the need to diversify a pool of skilled youth to help in coming up with all-inclusive solutions.

“We are determined to make this an annual event at MUST, as we do with other downstream integration initiatives such as the Girls Science Camp to prepare our youths for university life and beyond while they are in primary or secondary school.

“To make this fellowship better and bigger, we will need more support from cooperating partners. Otherwise, on our part, we are committed to deliver this project long term and going forward, we envisage development of other similar technology and innovative initiatives targeting pre-university youths.”

The programme has four key work packages — the first being Work Package (WPI) to cover drone science and technology; WPII to engage the young engineers to use facilities in MUST’s Design Studio with WPIII being a mentorship session whereby each young engineer has been paired with MUST students pursuing engineering programmes.

The mentorship programme is for 12 months while Work Package IV covers the advancement of its technology to produce a computer-aided prototype.

This final Work Package covers social innovation, including the engagement with the Vice-Chancellor and other senior members of staff to a luncheon at a hotel.

“Once again, congratulations and welcome to MUST, where our philosophy is “Doing Business Unusual,” said Malata in her prepared speech.

Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :

Sharing is caring!

Follow us in Twitter
Read previous post:
NICO Pension champs of Blantyre ‘One NICO Executive Golf Challenge’

NICO Pension men's team emerged champions of second edition of the annual One NICO Executive Golf Challenge after outclassing their...