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Academy seeks alternative approach to engineering skill acquisition

By Victor Gbonegun
27 June 2022   |   2:11 am
The Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE) has reiterated the need for alternative approach to teaching of engineering in tertiary schools across the country.

[FILES] Engineering.Photo: IROZ GAIZKA/AFP/Getty Images

The Nigerian Academy of Engineering (NAE) has reiterated the need for alternative approach to teaching of engineering in tertiary schools across the country.

It also called for improve funding of education and provision of critical infrastructure for learning rather than establishing new institutions.

A past President of the Academy, Prof. Rafiu Salawu, made the call during a lecture at the investiture of the 12th President of the Academy, Professor Azikiwe Onwualu, in Lagos.

The forum, which attracted doyens of engineering profession in Nigeria featured presentation of life achievement awards to Olumuyiwa Ajibola, Gilbert Grant and Funsho Kupolokun, as well as induction of ten new fellows into the academy.

Speaking on, ‘Engineering education in Nigeria, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ delivered by the Professor of Electronics Engineering observed that engineering education started from Yaba Higher College where there has been a phenomenal growth in both the number of students and the numbers of universities in the country.

Unfortunately, Salawu stated there has not been commensurate increase funding for the institutions to improve teaching methods and critical infrastructure facilities.

He said despite the new scientific knowledge about teaching and learning of engineering, significant transformation of engineering education has remained elusive.

Salawu said it has been predicted that within the next ten years, increasing number of students will turn to granting Massively Open Online Courses (MOOC), causing a major shakeup in high education.

“If teaching can be replaced by video and department can be an online degree granting, area of change include revision in engineering curriculum and course structure, establishment of instructional development programmes for faculty members and graduate students, performance review of students, improvement in reward policies and other conditions of service and adoption of measures to raise the status of teaching in society and in institutional hiring and advancement,” he said.

To avoid obsolesce, he stressed the need for value addition that cannot be easily provided by video or technology. According to him, there was need for future engineers to acquire diversification of skills and knowledge, the use of active learning, engaging students in projects, design and laboratory experiences that prepare them for professional practice.

In his speech, the outgoing President of the Academy, Alexander Ogedegbe, said the academy under his leadership integrated the goals, principles and procedures of the academy’s five years strategic plan into its activities. This, he said resulted into restructuring process that allowed all the existing Council committees, refocus them on its core obligation concerning current national priorities and empower them with specific terms of reference derived from the strategic plan.

He said the mission of the academy is to generate and expand coverage of new ideas and increase their appropriate applications for policy formulations and present same to it’s stakeholders.

Ogedegbe said the academy procured a Cloud based data management platform to provide digital storage, access and use of all information and data available, organised several webinars on technical and technological subject of interest, among other achievements.

The new president of the academy, Prof. Azikiwe Onwualu, pledged to carry on with laudable plan already set out by the Academy, provide critical knowledge inputs to public policy and chart new path for the body.

Onwualu said the academy would collaborate with government and other stakeholders to generate an advice on knowledge and get policy makers in government and industry to implement them.

He called on the Federal and state governments and industry to partner with the academy on evidence based policy formulation to address the challenges confronting the country.

“We need to work with government and industry to save the education sector from complete collapse, revive skills, technical, vocational and entrepreneurship education to prepare future graduates of our colleges and universities for the future of work and work of the future, which is very dynamic. We need to use our wealth of experience to advice government on funding engineering and technology based solutions to current challenges of insecurity in Nigeria,” he said.