A Kenyan student has put Kenya on the continental map by emerging runners-up in a global computer networking challenge by American computer accessories company Cisco.

Charles Mutua, 23, a Bachelor of Computer Science and Physics finalist at Kenyatta University, made a triumphant return from a five-day study trip to the US last week.

He came in only second to an information technology expert from Morocco, Hamza Jebbour, who emerged the best among 20 entrants drawn from African countries in the 2017 edition of the yearly competition dubbed Netriders. Mutua and Jebbour had competed against more than 15,400 entrants globally to win a study trip prize to Cisco headquarters in San Jose, California.

The competition involved designing and configuring a computer network in a real life situation and remotely presenting the work to a panel of industry players through tele-conferencing.

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“When I left on January 6, I was very nervous because it was the first time I was flying. But it was exciting to fly eight hours to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and another 11 to San Jose,” he said.

Sunday morning Mutua arrived on Sunday morning and spent the day resting. On Monday, the team met with Cisco engineers and were introduced to the firm’s networking academy curriculum. “We were taught many courses on computer security and on Tuesday, we had a session with a panel of engineers who showed us how to make a smart doorbell which, when you open your door, sends a message to you,” Mutua said. On Wednesday, they visited Stanford University, which is also the headquarters of tech giants Google and Facebook.