APWEN Rewards, Empowers Students on STEM

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Funmi Ogundare

The Association of Professional Women Engineers of Nigeria (APWEN) recently presented awards and prizes to some girls from public and private schools in Lagos, who participated in a three-day Mayen Adetiba Technical Boot Camp for girls with the theme ‘Creativity: The Pivot for Sustainable Development’.

They were taught to make sturdy bridges using home-made materials; trained in robotics, as well as made industrial visit to a motor cycle assembly plant for practical experience, aimed at ensuring that they pursue a career in engineering through STEM education.

Prizes were awarded to the best school in the bridge construction, as well as individual students in the written exercise. Out of the 11 schools that participated, Ikeja Junior High School emerged winner in the bridge construction category and got a cash prize of N50,000, trophy and medals for the participating students.

In the written exercise, Miss Deminiwei Ebiemi from Onike Girls Junior High School, Yaba emerged winner and received a laptop computer, while Miss Mariam Alade from Wesley Girls Junior Secondary School, Yaba and Miss Damilola Olusola from Ikeja Junior High School, who came second and third, received an IPad and a Techno phone respectively.

Aside the practical experience for the students, their teachers were also trained on 21st century Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects delivery methods.

Speaking at the second edition of the programme, the President of APWEN, Mrs. Felicia Agubata said the boot camp is an annual holiday programme held in honour of the first female engineer to be elected into the executive committee of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Mrs. Mayen Adetiba.

She said the boot camp is designed to encourage junior secondary school girls to be creative, innovative and inventive in technology, adding that it was part of APWEN’s effort to improve their participation in STEM, with a view to pursuing a career in engineering.

“The idea is to give them hands-on and practical experience through speaking sessions, experiments and site visit to engineering companies. In our estimation, the programmes serve us better than the conventional post humous activities that have become standard in Nigeria. It is our firm believe that this is the right way to celebrate and honour one of our founders, an inspirational figure and an engineer, who blazed the trail in the engineering profession,” Agubata said.

In her remarks, the Group Managing Director of Telnet Nigeria Limited, Dr. Nadu Denloye, described STEM as fundamental to solving challenges of the world, saying that as females, they have a shared responsibility for Nigeria to operate at its full capacity through their creativity.

“You must have a good grounding in STEM, which is very important for your future. We need females to be part of a change if they are creative. They need to expand their minds about things and have a passion to make a difference through learning and taking hold of opportunities.”

In a chat with journalists, Adetiba, who is also a fellow of APWEN, said a lot of girls are scared of science subjects because they are not been encouraged, adding that they need to explore and know what the subject is all about.

She regretted that most of the girls that participated in the boot camp, were not exposed to geometrics using their mathematical sets to construct, while blaming the government for the decay in public schools.

“From our experience this year, the 150 students that we brought, especially from public schools, find it difficult using their mathematical set to get the angle to build their bridges. The whole idea of building bridges is to expose them to geometrics and get an angle using their maths set, but they couldn’t do it because they were not exposed to it. What we are going to be doing is to bring them closer to reality and make them think critically, because for you to be an engineer, you must be able to think.”

She appealed to the government to improve the standard of education through adequate funding, adding that corporate bodies could also award scholarships to enable underprivileged students have access to quality education.

“We are going to send our report to the ministry of education so that they can look critically at these things, unfortunately some engineers will pass through the school and at the end of the day, they wouldn’t be exposed to the simplest material to work with.”