Kahorongo’s Journey to Daimler AG

As the world and trends in technological advancement move towards sustainable systems of running machines and systems, Himeezembi Kahorongo is a name for the future. He has just attracted interest of renowned vehicle creator Daimler AG in Germany.

Kahorongo, a Computer Science lecturer at NUST and alumnus of the institution, was recently selected by Daimler AG in Germany to undertake a PhD degree in Computer Science through the “Mission to Mars” project and he is the only candidate from Africa, having been selected in the top five among 23 scholars from around the world.

He is the creator of Namibia’s Solar Taxi.

He will be conducting research on “mega-trends and their implications for future organisational development” with the Mercedes-Benz Cars (MBC) Organisation Development Department.

“I am honoured and delighted to be part of this prestigious programme especially because it means that Namibia has potential and talents and the world have seen that. From this programme I intend to get a PhD and work for Daimler AG in Germany and to eventually start-up a company of Innovation and Research although I have already started working on that. When I return from Germany I would like to contribute to the Namibian economy through business in automation, manufacturing, consulting services and to pass on the valuable resources I will gain from my time in Germany,” he says.

The Mercedes-Benz Cars (MBC) Organisation Development Department is responsible for providing the best possible consulting and strategic support services to their MBC Executives. Their goal is to strengthen organisational development for Mercedes-Benz along the entire value chain through research and radical innovation in the fields of trend scouting, product and business model development.

This will be done by building up a new InnoLab team comprised of trend scouts, change architects and business astronauts. Prior to the selection, Kahorongo spent a week in Germany where he was tested on a variety of topics such as an innovative mind, leadership and creativity and also had workshops and pitched ideas.

“Our team won second prize for the ‘pitch of ideas’ event. MBC was looking for only five PhD candidates who shared their vision to focus their theses on the following up-and-coming megatrends: Digitalisation, Ubiquitous Intelligence, Co-Creation and Sharing Economy, Mass Individualisation, Startup Spirit, Agility and Rapid Innovation,” Kahorongo says.

His task will involve scientifically examining the research gaps within the aforementioned topics from an organisational development perspective and to conclude with a doctoral degree. As a member of the InnoLab, he will be responsible for the development of concepts, products and services for organizational development and will advise MBC managers on national and international contexts.

Academic and Professional Proficiency

Kahorongo’s recent selection is one of many exceptional accomplishments he has bagged since embarking on his illustrious journey in computer science. His history and accolades speak of a brilliant mind whose selection to be part of a globally revered company attest to his vast potential to bring new innovation in sustainable motoring.

No stranger to winning international awards, after completing high school he worked as an IT technician volunteer at the Franco Namibia Cultural Centre in Windhoek in 2001 where he was awarded a scholarship by the French government to study at the then Polytechnic of Namibia. In 2006 he graduated with a four year Bachelor of Information Technology (Business Computing) degree.

During his studies at the Polytechnic, he was awarded the Best Student prize in Software Engineering in 2004 and in 2005 he spent a year studying as an exchange student at the University of Applied Sciences, Flensburg in Germany. The exchange was funded by Namdeb and De Beers Marine Namibia.

As part of his studies during his sojourn at Flensburg he was required to complete a research project on the shortest path (roads and streets) for trucks to collect skip containers within the Municipality of Windhoek.

He completed the project with distinction and part of his research was implemented by the Municipality’s Solid Waste Department. Kahorongo has also assisted with research work on renewable energy concepts at NUST. In 2006, Kahorongo was nominated for the DAAD Good Governance Programme and selected as one of the eight best students in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) to serve a six-month internship at Daimler AG in Germany.

As an intern at Daimler in 2007 he led a team that successfully developed a middleware application needed to solve an interface problem between two systems for Daimler Company affiliates around the world. While he was an intern at De Beers Marine Namibia he developed a web board application that was used in different operational units and also supported the SAP ‘Ukumwe Project’ team as a trainee.

His next achievement was a Fulbright scholarship he received to pursue a Master’s Degree in Computer Science at University of Nebraska in the United States. The research project there was on a “Mobile Healthcare Application” which was implemented in the rural areas of Namibia.

Upon finishing his master’s degree he was awarded the “Best International Student” and this distinction earned him a research and development traineeship in the Hybrid Car Technology Department at Daimler AG-Mercedes-Benz in Germany in 2011.

Commenting on Kahorongo’s success, Dean of the School of Information Technology at the Polytechnic, Dr. Heike Winschiers Theophilus said, “The School of IT is proud to have played a significant role in the life of this talented young Namibian.

Kahorongo’s success is the result of a combination of factors-his own talent, drive and commitment; the generous funding support of different governments (France, Namibia, Germany and USA), the internship opportunities extended to him by industry partners (Namdeb, De Beers and Daimler AG) who recognised his potential and the knowledge development opportunities made available to him by the University of Applied Sciences FH-Flensburg in Germany, Nebraska University in the USA and, of course, the Polytechnic of Namibia.

His story demonstrates that the world is now aware of the depth of talent in Namibia, and is willing to support its development. Hopefully, Kahorongo’s success will inspire many other talented Namibian students to seize such opportunities to follow their dream.”

Kahorongo, was also involved in the development of an electronic health records system, a National Pregnancy Notification System and an M-Health System aimed to facilitate access to information and feedback between public health service providers and the public, and can be accessed using a mobile phone.

He says, “The electronic health record system enhances the records of the Health Ministry by allowing members of the public to update personal information on their medical records. The National Pregnancy SMS Notification System was developed to allow pregnant women living in rural areas to gain access to medical advice as well as receive notifications on checkups. The M-Health System is an information portal that allows the Health Ministry to communicate directly with the public, and is designed to inform and educate the public in cases of disease outbreaks. The public can also use the M-Health System to log comments and queries about health related issues.”

Kahorongo’s achievements are sure to inspire Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) students and others alike.

He says, “To all aspiring innovators and STEM students I urge you to never let anyone say your dreams are too crazy or too big. Continue to create, make and innovate. Learn and adapt to your challenges. I overcame major challenges, such as when I went to Germany as an exchange student for one year. I was told my courses will be in Germany and my exams as well so I had a week to decide if I have to back to Namibia or stay.

However, Namdeb and De Beers Marine Namibia (Debmarine) paid for everything so the thought of returning after a week after getting a scholarship and telling them that I quit because everything was in German was unthinkable. I had to find an innovative way to solve my problems.

So through recording every lesson, staying up late most of times till 3 or 4 am and taking up part time jobs as a product promotor to learn the language faster in the end I was selected as top international student at FH Flensburg and also taught Mathematics in German to the German students. Indeed, commitment is key in achieving all goals no matter how great they are.”

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