Pauline Korukundo: Shinning Female Auto Engineer Makes Mark at Kiira Motors

Korukundo displays her expertise during the interview with ChimpReports at kiira Motors headquarters in Ntinda, Kampala on March 19

Although education statistics in Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries show that women continue to lag behind men in education in general and specifically in Science, more about Mathematics and Technology (SMT), seek a number of women in Uganda have still managed to rise and shine.

And of the bright stars is Pauline Korukundo.

Korukundo is an Electronics Engineer with a particular interest in control systems development.

She is the Vehicle Integration Manager in the Product Development Department at Uganda’s automobile manufacturing company, Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC).

Korukundo is one of the brains behind the Kiira EV, the Kiira EV-SMACK prototype and the recently launched Kayoola Solar Bus.

The engineer has been part of the company since 2011 with nearly five years’ experience developing and testing vehicle control units.

She applies her systems engineering knowledge and skills in requirements specification, design analysis, programming and technical documentation to fully fledged projects.

Korukundo now joins eminent auto engineers such as Alicia Boler-Davis who was the first General Motors plant manager to also lead a vehicle launch — for the Chevrolet Sonic.

At Chrysler, another female engineer Chris Barman headed the team that designed the new Dodge Dart while Rebecca Seiler and Jennifer Shaw helped develop some of Ford Motor’s advanced safety technologies that prevent crashes.

Below Korukundo speaks to ChimpReports about her story with insight on her background, profession, social life and future plans.

Who is Pauline Korukundo?

Pauline Korukundo is an Electronics Engineer working as the Vehicle Integration Manager in the Product Development department at Kiira Motors Corporation.

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Telecom Engineering and a Master’s degree in Electricals and Electronics Engineering.

Korukundo is one of Uganda's rising stars in the automotive industry

Korukundo is one of Uganda’s rising stars in the automotive industry

Tell us about your birthplace and family background.

I was born in Entebbe to Maj Gen Samuel and Annie Turyagyenda. I am from a family of five; three boys and two girls. I am the third born.

Which schools did you go to?

I went to Kings College Buddo for my O and A Level. Then I joined Makerere University for a bachelor’s degree in Telecom Engineering and later the University of Nottingham in the UK where I did my Master’s degree in Electricals and Electronics Engineering.

While at school, did you feel at a disadvantage because of your gender?

Not really. After primary school, I joined Kings College Buddo, which is a mixed school. It was a good experience to study with boys and compete with them. I was the first female Deputy Head Prefect at the school.

What is your success story?

By the time I joined Kiira Motors in July 2011 after completing my Bachelor’s degree, I did not know much about cars.

The guys laughed at me for not knowing what the chassis was but I have now learnt.

After working on the Kiira EV and the Kiira EV-SMACK, I got interest in cars and that’s why I decided to go for a Master’s in Electricals and Electronics Engineering.

I have been able to write the algorithms for the vehicles.

What makes you unique?

I don’t see any limits to what I can achieve. I am a determined person and I believe in myself.

What are the challenges facing Uganda’s Education sector today?

First of all, there is this mentality that everyone has to go through University and yet there are other ways to become professionals without going to University.

Students need to be encouraged to go to Technical Institutions because there is a lot of knowledge and skills they can acquire from there.

Uganda also lacks enough platforms for students to put the knowledge they learn from class to use. Many students do not get the chance to exploit their skills.

How are innovations driving Uganda’s economy?

Currently innovations in Uganda are still in the initial stage. We haven’t gone to the production stage yet. I hope that soon we shall be able to make our technology innovations productive so that we can improve on different sectors of the economy like Agriculture is already doing.

What will be Kiira Motor’s contribution to the growth of Uganda’s economy?

When production starts, Kiira Motors will provide Ugandans with employment opportunities, people will be able to buy good quality cars at affordable prices and other companies that deal in some motor vehicle parts like batteries will emerge.

What your future plans?

In future as Kiira Motors, we shall be able to make some of the spare parts and components of the cars by ourselves.

I also hope that my team will grow bigger because we are a small team at the moment. I plan to find ways to encourage female engineers to join the team since they normally present unique perspectives.

Apart from working with Kiira Motors, what else do you do?

I play hockey for the Weatherhead Hockey Club and I do gym a lot. I also run a business called Pashion Street. It sells shoes.

What message do you have for female scholars who would like to take on engineering as a profession?

I encourage them to join. Engineering is not only for men, but women as well so there is nothing to fear.

They also ought to know that Engineering is about making life easier. They should be ready to make life easier whether it’s through innovation or maintenance.


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