STEM METS Partners Airbus to Train Future Female Engineers

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Yinka Olatunbosun

The girls at Methodist Girls’ High School were kept busy recently with a project that is designed to help them develop their skill set for future. Organised mostly in trios, these students in each group had a common goal- to assemble and fly a mini plane.

It was called the official launch of the Airbus Little Engineer workshop, a project which has trained more than 1,000 school students in Nigeria. The project is a part of Airbus Foundation’s youth development programme which took off in 2017.

It was discovered that the Nigerian school curriculum is yet to include subjects that can empower young students to build up exciting careers in science and technology in line with the global standards. These subjects include robotics and space exploration. Therefore, to encourage students to understand and embrace technology, the Airbus Foundation thus partners The Little Engineer and STEM METS Resources in training 30 students at Methodist Girls’ High School.

The students were aged between 13 and 15 years. They were taught to identity the various parts of an aircraft while given the opportunity to build an A380 scale model from scratch. The four-hour workshop was running simultaneously with talk sessions on why this project is essential for the Nigerian child. The founder, STEM METS Resources, Jadesola Adedeji extolled the values of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education during the panelists’ session.

“We want nothing more than for children in Nigeria to have access to innovative and alternative means of learning using and also creating an environment where STEM education will be embraced and enhanced in our society,’’ she said.

She also urged the federal government to review the current school curriculum in the light of current interventions to enhance the knowledge economy.

The Executive Director, Airbus Foundation, in her statement said that “investments in education and training are essential in building an educated and skilled workforce.’’ This clearly explains why Airbus is supporting a country’s effort in creating sustainable education.

Nosazena Amiengheme one of the trainers from STEM METS resources at the workshop described the initiative as one that exposes the child to the basics of aeronautic engineering.

“Airbus has the dream of creating different types of aircraft that will make life easier. Most children make career choices in medicine or arts or law, forgetting that we have aeronautic engineering. It is Airbus’s desire to have these children learn more about it.

“We also enlighten the school to initiate a follow-up programme to encourage these students who are hands-on. They will develop problem solving skills, critical thinking and learn collaboration. They are also taught that the airplane is not built in one country. The different parts are built in different countries and assembled in one place, usually France. We let them know that they cannot always work alone as individuals. We also organize field trips, camps and after-school activities and clubs to enhance their skills,’’ she said.

It is also interesting to see the project launched in an all-female school. In the trainer’s experience with the workshops, girls are faster at learning the skills than their male counterparts.

“There was a group that we had in Ikeja. The girls didn’t just write a program, they named it and we didn’t teach them that. That was quite brilliant. They even gave the plane a horn. We have seen that we need to encourage our girls, not just to be full-time housewives,’’ she added.