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Local Kenyans take twinning to the next level

TAFE NSW Newcastle

Local Kenyans take twinning to the next level

TAFE NSW students

Paul and Peter Birgen share a home country, parents, birthday, looks and now their studies - both recently begun the Associate Degree of Applied Engineering (Renewable Energy Technologies) at TAFE NSW Newcastle.

The identical twins are two of nine Kenyan nationals who this year enrolled to study at a TAFE NSW location across the North Coast. They moved to Jesmond in March and immediately jumped into the two-year engineering degree, each with plans to continue on to university locally then head home to ‘help rebuild Kenya’.

Paul and Peter will be well-placed to succeed wherever they land, with the renewable technologies industry growing rapidly. $10.2tn is forecast to be invested in new power generation capacity by 2040, with nearly three quarters of that in renewables*.

Paul, who has his eye on a career in mechatronics, said, “I’m going to be the next Nikola Tesla of the world! As a kid I used to like playing with electricity and wanted to be an inventor, and that has continued.”

“Can you imagine having the ability to build something amazing, something awe inspiring? The sky’s the limit and education is the foundation, and TAFE NSW is pretty damn cool.

“The teachers are so great, so knowledgeable and really passionate. They have a way of keeping things real, of explaining how what we’re learning applies in real life and giving examples of projects in Australia, Africa and beyond. It helps make the theory side of things much easier to understand.

“I had a strong feeling that moving to Australia to study would be a good idea, and I was right.”

Peter, who is considering either mechanical or electrical engineering as a career, said, “In Kenya they offer the same course but it’s not as up to date and the facilitators aren’t as good.”

“Our mum travelled over here last year to be showed around the TAFE NSW Newcastle facilities. I looked at it online myself and it looked pristine. I have not been let down at all - studying here has been lovely.

“I am getting a lot of support from the teachers; they take their time and are happy to answer questions. It’s very hands-on study, which I like. It helps me adapt. I’ve only just completed first semester but have already learned a lot and it’s been very helpful to have my brother alongside me through this journey.

“This associate degree has inspired me to focus on finishing it then going on to uni. I will probably stay a while, to get my feet wet in Australia and give back to this country as a thank you for teaching me so much.

“Then I am determined to return home and better our country. There are so many opportunities for Kenya to grow and learn, and I am looking forward to helping it improve through my new skills and knowledge.”

Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers over 1200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital, when and where it suits. Visit or call 131 601.


*New Energy Outlook report, Bloomberg NEF



Media contact: Sarah Lievore, TAFE NSW Media Officer,