Dr Victor Mwongera, 35

Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering

Kenyatta University
My Story

Some men walk into a room and make it larger than it is. Some men walk in, and the room shrinks. Dr Mwongera is neither. He is the room. And he just might as well because he has always had big shoes to fill. The apple does not fall far from the tree. His father, Eng. Erastus Mwongera is the chairman of the Engineers Board of Kenya. He, Dr Victor Mwongera, is the chairman of Youth Enterprise Fund. If his father is the sun, then he is the moon, which reflects that light on a night. “I wanted to finish my academics before life begins,” he says.

Victor went to the UK in 2005, after completing his studies at Hillcrest Secondary School to enroll for an undergraduate degree, and later, PhD in Aerospace Engineering at Bristol University. He got his PhD at 28, which comes with a lot of sacrifices because while his mates were starting families, he was buried neck-deep in books, crunching aeronautical numbers, like a calculative hermit.

Has he ever felt pressure to fit in?

“When you are abroad, you seem to feel intimidated when you go to a university and see the composition is almost monochromatic, even more in a niche discipline like aerospace engineering,” he says.

"“When you are abroad, you seem to feel intimidated when you go to a university and see the composition is almost monochromatic, even more in a niche discipline like aerospace engineering.”"

When did he realise he was smart? “I never read Math, Science, and Agriculture. I just used to pass. And that became my foundation of engineering.”

A former employee of Rolls Royce and Agusta Helicopters, he is guiding and shaping Kenya’s next aerospace leaders at 35. He is now mentoring Kenyatta University, USIU, and University of Nairobi students to design a nano-satellite, dubbed KU Cube, for agricultural use and disaster management, to be launched into space and funded by the Kenya Space Agency.

His hands are full. He is also working to unveil the viability of a Kenya Space Port, somewhere we can launch rockets in Kenya from. He is also dabbling with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones).

Eddy Ashioya