Professors in the field of engineering have called for a holistic review of the curriculum and training of student engineers for better productivity and national development.
This was among the recommendations made at the seventh African Engineering Education Association International Conference (AEEA-IC) 2019 on strengthening engineering education through innovation and collaboration, held at the University of Lagos.
The President of AEEA and Dean, Faculty of Engineering, University of Lagos, Professor Funsho Falade said engineers have the capacity of solving problems in the society if trained. “They become equipped with skills to analyse, develop and proffer appropriate solutions to societal problems. That is their function.”
According to him, though engineering by its nature is supposed to use scientific ideas to develop technology, any nation that fails to develop its engineering has failed to develop heterogeneous technology.
“Without this, no nation can develop. Hence, we continue to rely on imported technology, which is pricey and more often than not, unavoidable.”
The dean also regretted that Nigeria depends on foreign infrastructure, saying, “all our infrastructure is down because we rely on foreigners. There is need to develop ours.”
He stated that “by the structure of our curriculum, we have 44 weeks of industrial training for our students. The essence of this is to apply theoretical training to practical solutions.”
Falade observed that the industry is scanty, adding, “the captains of the industry are insinuating that there is a gap between the classroom and the fields; that is not the situation. The situation is that the practical application is not there.
“Our curriculum needs to be reviewed in terms of content. We talk about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). These components give hard skills. Sadly, people now talk about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics).”
The professor stressed the need to involve captains of industry in curriculum development. “We have done industry advisory board comprising engineering and non-engineering personnel who are looking at the curriculum holistically.”
Also speaking, the President of Threejoy, a consulting, coaching and training firm, Mr. David Goldberg called for a shift in engineering education perspective across the world to ease boredom in classrooms.
“When we sit them down in classrooms with professors in the front where they have to listen and listen and don’t get a chance to act, it’s boring and they check out. Sometimes, they don’t finish. Sometimes, they finish but move on to something else.”
He said for education to change, “we have to give youths the opportunity to do things on their own.”