By Kingsley Adegboye & Gabriel Olawale
IN order to meet the engineering challenges of the 21st century in the country, Nigerian Academy of Engineering, NAE, the apex body of engineering profession in Nigeria, has observed the need for collaboration between the Academy and relevant organisations to up engineering education and practice in Nigeria, just as the body has said only innovations can meet engineering challenges of the 21st century.
Speaking at the NAE 2017 Annual Lecture/Induction of new fellows into the Academy at the University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, last week, the guest lecturer, Vice Provost for Global Programmess and Professor of Petroleum/Natural Gas Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, USA, Prof. Michael Adewumi said that the one-dimensional engineering education system in Nigeria does not meet the criteria to address the 21st century challenges.
Adewumi pointed out that students’ competency in technical knowledge without knowledge in other areas will deny them the opportunity to be globally competitive and locally relevant in the 21st century.
According to the professor who spoke on “Training Engineers for the Global Century”, Nigerian engineering students do not dabble into subjects like history, economics, management, international relations or psychology, nor are they provided what is called soft skills like communication, leadership and team building, stressing that more damaging is the fact that they are not taught how to integrate disparate knowledge in a coherent fashion to address emerging unfamiliar problems.
He said this knowledge would be useful for them to have some idea about the market forces that shape the adoption of their product and process. He said the need to train students to think in three dimensions namely technical, environment and human dimension, will make them bear in mind that their goal is not to create a product or process, but rather to make life better for people.
Limited non-renewable resources
“It, therefore, makes sense for us to attempt to understand the people for whom we are creating product or process. We must also realize that we only have small planet earth, with rapidly burgeoning population putting much pressure on limited non-renewable resources, and thus putting to jeopardy the welfare of future generations.”
The present reality is much more complex. Even in developed countries, a student needs to be taught on how to create value by solving local problems and bringing such solutions to the market place, thereby creating jobs, rather than seeking jobs. He, however, tasked NAE to make a difference in area of informed policy, curriculum reform and contextualization, and making use of the Diaspora community engineers.
On her part, the President of NAE, Engr. (Mrs.) Joanna Maduka, urged the newly inducted fellows to ensure the repositioning of engineering education and practice in the country.
Speaking earlier at a press conference to announce the 2017 Annual Lecture/Induction, Maduka said recently, joint collaboration committee of the Academy and ARCO Group on academia-industry linkage was established to lend credence and give vent to innovations in engineering that can be game changes for engineering education, industrial development and growth of Nigeria.