Making a difference with Oracle Academy
The spotlight is on Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki, Head of the Center for Professional Certifications, Zetech University, Kenya.
Zetech University is a chartered university located in Ruiru, Kenya, 20 kilometers northeast of the capital, Nairobi. The university was named as a word fusion of zenith, which means at the very top, and technologies. Zetech was founded as a center for ICT education, aimed at increasing Kenya’s pool of ICT talent. Today, it offers a wide range of market-driven programs at master’s, bachelor’s, diploma, and certification levels in the areas of IT, Engineering, Media, Business, Journalism, Community Development, Counselling, Hospitality, Education, and Tourism, among other disciplines. The university also offers Open Distance and E-learning (ODeL) through Zetech Digital Campus.
The Center for Professional Certifications (CPC) at Zetech University aims to equip students with certification qualifications in skills-based courses that can set them apart in the job market. Working hand in hand with the Department of Information Communications Technology and Engineering, the CPC continually enhances the curriculum to fulfill the requirements of computer science skills in Kenya. The CPC’s target is to bridge the gap between academia and the IT industry.
The CPC department is headed by Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki, who holds a bachelor’s degree in Applied Computer Science from Kisii University and an advanced diploma in Computer Engineering from Aphax College. Along with his colleagues, he uses the Oracle Academy Cloud Program to teach networking, data communication, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and Internet of Things (IoT).
In addition, he is a cybersecurity expert who has represented Zetech University in regional and global competitions and received numerous awards and recognitions.
Oracle Academy: Can you share with us the role of Oracle Academy within Zetech University’s professional certification goals?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: The objective of offering CPC at Zetech is to equip our students with in- demand skills that will help them to find work. Cloud computing and database skills are fundamental to achieving this goal, and we are currently preparing students to sit the exam leading to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Certified Foundations Associate certification.
Of the 2,000 students in our ICT department, 500 are enrolled in cloud computing and database courses whilst 100 have signed up for the Oracle Cloud certification exam. I will be taking the exam before them to trailblaze for my students!
Oracle Academy: Do you use the Oracle Academy Cloud Program to prepare for the exam?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: That’s right, I use the program not only for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) certification but also as an integral part of the IT programs at Zetech University. We consistently harness what Oracle Academy offers in order to enrich the ICT curriculum.
Oracle Cloud Free Tier gives us the resources to develop cloud computing skills for all of our students. We have 30 educators using Oracle Academy materials. We’re aiming to have the students take the OCI Foundations exam in 2023 and have our own test center on campus to facilitate the process.
Oracle Academy: As a faculty member yourself, what specifically do you teach?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: My course, appropriately named Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, leverages Oracle Cloud virtual labs to teach students how to create virtual networks, configure server apps, and carry out projects such as creating and configuring databases and SQL servers. I also teach IP management, how to deploy a network in a particular environment, and how the domain name system functions and expands.
In addition, given that cybersecurity is my specialty, I draw on Oracle resources in teaching ethical hacking, penetration testing, and all the other cloud security practices. All of this is done through the Oracle Cloud virtual environment.
These hands-on tasks enable the students to quickly grasp the concepts online without using any physical devices or hardware. In the past we were hampered because our university servers did not have sufficient RAM to post projects and cater to so many simultaneous users. For the SQL work, we access content from the Oracle Academy Database Design and Programming with SQL curriculum.
Using Oracle APEX, I also teach the development and deployment of applications.
Oracle Academy: What other Oracle Cloud technologies does Zetech teach?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: We use the whole spectrum of Oracle Cloud technologies ― Kubernetes, AI/Machine Learning, Oracle Blockchain, and Internet of Things (IoT). I personally teach IoT to a class of 150 students and I am always looking into new Oracle cutting-edge technologies.
Partnering with Oracle Academy means we are always ahead of the game and we don’t have to search for materials because Oracle’s roadmap never fails to enrich the curriculum.
Oracle Academy: What about the Oracle Academy Member Hub?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: The Member Hub is a delight. It allows our educators and students to access coursework at any time and from any location. It’s a rich resource that we have yet to fully tap into ― there’s so much content and learning materials and we are still exploring.
We use the Member Hub to access the content, the software and, very importantly, for continuous professional development through self-paced learning. All of us undertake self-training, then later impart the knowledge and skills to our students.
And on the student side, we use the Member Hub to create accounts, set up learning paths, introduce new elements to the curriculum, and monitor progress.
Oracle Academy: What type of job opportunities can your graduates look forward to?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: There’s a myriad of opportunities and that’s why Zetech put in place the Center for Professional Certifications. We attempt to bridge the gap between academia and industry needs. Kenya has a new government that is intent on creating the digital economy, and naturally it focuses on building IT and technology skills. The country is no stranger to innovation. You may recall that the first digital payments platform in the world was built by a Kenyan telco, using Oracle technology.
Oracle is well-perceived in the country as a global leader and our graduates have a seamless transition when finding opportunities and placement in government, private industry, and multinationals, and some create start-ups. The partnership with Oracle Academy has been extremely fruitful.
Oracle Academy: Can you tell us more about this partnership?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: Oracle and Oracle Academy have given us fantastic support in software, training, and in events, and provide a panorama of technology innovation worldwide. We take students to visit the Oracle Kenya office, and people from Oracle Kenya or Oracle Academy Sub-Saharan Africa regularly speak at events and seminars we organize. Recent examples include an innovation bootcamp and a cybersecurity summit.
Zetech University is grounded on the motto “Invent Your Future.” Personally, my slogan for the Oracle Academy partnership is “We shall invent the future together.” My drive is aligned with the university’s motto, and this helps me and my students achieve our career aspirations.
Oracle Academy: That’s really positive! And, Samuel, outside of Zetech, what activities and interests do you have?
Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki: Cybersecurity is my passion. Last year I delivered a free course to 1,500 students and members of the public. I have been recognized as a leading light in this domain. I have represented Kenya in regional and global forums in South Africa and China, and have mentored Zetech students who have excelled in global competitions in networking and cybersecurity.
I am also a member of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and participate in several community working groups. In addition, I’m a member of the Intenet Governance Forum (IGF) and Internet Society Kenya Chapter, and I participate in forums that promote security and increase internet access nationwide.
Otherwise, I am a football aficionado and love watching soccer matches. Locally. I support Gor Mahia FC and internationally I support Arsenal. Arsenal has young players and a young coach and that’s a role model for me, because in my free time I also do some mentoring to coach young people.
Thank you, Samuel Kinuthia Kariuki, for your passion for Oracle Academy and for preparing your students to make a positive impact.