Varsity teacher advocates retraining of engineers to meet global challenges

A Professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, Prof Micheal Adewumi has canvassed a paradigm shift in the training of engineers to make them globally relevant and in tune with present demands.

Prof Adewumi who is the vice provost for global programmes at Pennsylvania University, United States of America said the world has changed, hence training of engineers must be in line with global acceptable practices.

The university teacher who was the guest speaker at the 2017 annual lecture of the Nigeria Academy of Engineering (NAE) held at the J.F Ade Ajayi Auditorium, University of Lagos, described members of the professional body as the ‘best and brightest minds’ who should be influencing policy making on behalf of the government.

Prof Adewumi who spoke on the topic, “Training engineers for the global century,” at the event, which also featured life achievement awards and induction of new fellows called for a review of the curriculum to make it locally relevant.

He said, “When you look at the membership of NAE, it comprises of the best and brightest minds in the country; so these people should be influencing policy making on behalf of the government. For instance, a situation where everybody has to teach the same thing does not make any sense. In the university, we have professors, they have to be creative and come up with new ideas to disseminate.

“In terms of the curriculum, you adapt it to be locally relevant and globally competitive. Therefore, there is no point training Nigerians who do not understand the problem of Nigeria, unless you train them on that, they would disengage and once they disengage, you are losing the capacity.”

On why people prefer to hire expatriates to handle technical jobs, Prof Adewumi attributed this to global mobility of labour and knowledge, adding, “people are looking for the best and the brightest. So you need to begin to train high quality engineers who are globally competitive, once this is done, there is no reason to bring somebody else to come and do the job, we need to really put our house in order”.

While highlighting some of its objectives to include promotion of engineering education, NAE president, Mrs Joan Maduka said the academy is out to draw attention to the problems confronting the sector.

“This advocacy, for instance is to bring engineering out to the people, tell our government that this is what we want, but before we start persuading government and other agencies, we must put our house in order. We want to improve the quality of our graduates and the rest of the engineering family so that when we now come out and say use us fully; we know what we are talking about. Over the years, we found that engineering education has been declining, first because government does not have enough funds to even refurbish or replace some of the equipment and technology is improving everyday.”

Already, Mrs Maduka stated that the academy is attracting the attention of relevant government agencies and expressed hope that things would improve in due course.

Minister of Communications, Alhaji Adebayo Shittu lamented that engineers in the country have not been given their dues over the years, especially in the civil service.

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