As children on their family farm in Hoima in the Western Region of Uganda, brothers Daniel Kakonge and Nicholas Kazairwe often entertained themselves by taking apart unattended radios, televisions and other electronics in an attempt to understand what made them tick. They transferred that curiosity to much more complicated endeavours as they grew.
Today, Nicholas is a graduate of NSCC’s Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Program—the Avionics stream—and younger brother Daniel is nearing the completion of his second, and final, year of the Mechanical stream.
“I remember one day, when we were still in Uganda, we were all together in our sitting room. Nicolas and I had spoiled something—a TV or a radio—and my older sister said ‘maybe one day you can become engineers, and fix aircraft!’ We didn’t take it too seriously at the time, but that is when the idea began.”
The idea stuck.
For Nicholas, an internet search of “Aircraft Maintenance” first introduced him to NSCC and the Aviation Institute at the Waterfront Campus. After applying, and soon receiving his acceptance, he arrived in Halifax.
“He didn’t know anyone,” says Daniel of an unfortunate turn of events that left Nicholas without a connection in the province. “He arrived and told a bus driver his situation: ‘I have come; I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know anyone; I don’t have a house. I need help.’” The caring driver took Nicholas straight to NSCC where he explained his situation and was given assistance to begin the next stage of his educational journey in Nova Scotia.
Moving to Nova Scotia
Daniel, who was still back in Uganda, soon made plans to join Nicholas in Canada. Interestingly, despite his intended career path, Daniel says that the trip to Canada was his first time on a plane. “Since it was my first time to fly, I didn’t know anything about airports or what I was supposed to do. But I knew I really wanted to sit by a window!”
While the window seat gave Daniel his first, up-close look of an aircraft, it certainly wouldn’t be his last.
“My favourite part of the program is when we are on the floor—in the hangar—working on frames, engines, helicopters. I like the hands-on work and engaging our brains to solve a problem.” Daniel says that his formal training in vehicle maintenance has helped him to stay at the top of his class and quickly complete practical tests given to him by his NSCC instructors. “It’s great when you get something right, but it’s even more encouraging when an instructor comes and corrects you—then you do it again and you realize that you have learned something new.”
Daniel says, although he misses being in class with his brother and is excited about entering the industry upon graduation, he’s not in a rush to leave. “I’ve gotten offers to come home and work in Uganda, but I want to become a Canadian. I’m also enjoying my time here at NSCC.” He added, “All the instructors here are great—they are the best. I have never regretted leaving home and coming to study here. These guys have really done a great job for me and I am grateful.”
Daniel is looking forward to travelling home to Uganda following graduation in May to see his parents and his ten siblings before starting his career as an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer in Canada.