Growing up, I have always been fascinated with the idea of being an Engineer. Back then engineers seemed like intellectual ‘gods’ with the ability to proffer solutions to whatever problem society throws their way or were faced with.
I couldn’t wait to take the lead as a solution provider I myself, so I started with little things I could fixed from family problem to neighbour problem hoping some day it will be me in the front run of fixing society problem and making the engineering sector great.
I gain admission into the tertiary institution to further this dream of becoming an Engineer. I have always been fascinated by the principle of power generation and concept of circuiting making Electrical Engineering seemed like the best form of engineering for me. I had it all figured out, I’d graduate and get the COREN certification with the title ‘Engr’ in front of my name, I will be relevance and important because of what I have learned and acquired people would look at me with respect and tell their kids how important people like me are to the society. This dream was all the motivation I needed so I worked hard and gained admission into the higher institution.
I gained admission into the system and in the process of acquiring this knowledge, it hit me, that the system inside the school wouldn’t produce the innovative engineer I have been dreaming of becoming, nothing prepared me for the bitter truth. Most of the lectures were based strictly on imagination and ‘theories’. I couldn’t believe it, I learned about Electro-Magnetic Induction and Power Generation with no opportunity to see it real working principle or application. I was expected to learn from vivid explanation and pictures from textbooks as old as the bible. I’d never seen a 4-stroke combustion engine before yet I was expected to describe the combustion process with diagrams to explain my descriptions.
It was certain for me that if I didn’t make head-way, I will totally become what is tagged by UNESCO as Half Baked Graduate of Engineering. With the fear of the life after school came the realization that the only evidence that I studied Electrical Engineering would be my certificate. Did I make a wrong career choice? Or was I chasing after a false dream I could never realize?
HOPE OF THE ENGINEERING SECTOR
Every year, thousands of young engineers that have a similar experience like me from Nigerian polytechnics and universities. Somewhere along their years in the school, their dream of being a future problem solver is frustrated and assassinated and replaced with the desire to secure a plum job. These youths are supposed to lead the nations engineering industry tomorrow but may we ask what they are made up of today? Where is the passion and enthusiasm they started with?
Most laboratories in Nigerian school are actually antique shops/museums equipped with Stone Age machinery that most of the developed engineering world have abandoned or forgotten. It’s shameful to see that most engineering graduates have never seen or handled tools of their profession and in most cases machines and apparatus have a big 'DO NOT TOUCH' tags hanging over them. If there was a body responsible for auditing engineering equipment in Nigerian universities, many emerging engineers would have their certificates recalled.
Reports from the international community on the Nigerian engineer shows we are regarded as half-baked graduates and most first class graduates are subjected to tests in order to ascertain the quality of their degree.
IDENTIFYING AND UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEMS
We the students are not ignorance to most of the problems, we know the about the bureaucracy and government policies, we aware of the little funding, we know about the corruption of the non academic staff, we know about the family-involvement system and unqualified staff/lectures, we know about the non eagerness in most student to learn, we know the problem are much; but there are alternative and solutions even more than the problem, the bigger problem is who is trying to make it better.
The primary objective of every higher institution in any country is to secure a sustainable future of its next generation and that of the nation, if we all know this, then we should be aware that the primary objective is not for the government or for the management of the institution but rather for every stakeholder of the society involving private sector, public sector, families, neighbours, friends, social groups, cooperate groups, professional bodies and so on.
THE SOLUTIONS FOR ENGINEERING SECTOR
(CASE STUDY REVIEW)
The key solution is engagement of all stakeholders.
In the year 2013, I was involved in a nationwide competition tagged ‘’Light Up Naija Challenge’’ across almost all tertiary institutions in Nigeria under the platform of ENACTUS Kaduna Polytechnic sponsored by Sahara Energy Group, me and other team member designed and constructed a wind turbine with a capacity of producing 2.5kva power of renewable energy for a remote community of which we installed it in Ungwar Pa, a small community in Kasuwa Mageni Kaduna state.
This innovation powers 55 energy saver bulbs for about 5-7 hours every day. At the end of the project we defended it in a group competition in Lagos and our project won first position best impactful and innovative project and we were rewarded with a cash award. This was a practical knowledge and a practical experience that the class would not provide but stakeholders can provide this kind of learning experience through the school.
In the year 2014, we also participated in the phase two of the competition, of which we designed and constructed a Self Sustaining Hydro-powered System with coupled with a solar panel with a capacity of 4.0kva power of renewable energy, it powered a small farm and the community palace with a small reading centre which we provided in the sabon kakau village in Kaduna state. We also won the first position in the phase two of the ‘’Light Up Naija Challenge’’
Also from the year 2013, I have started to attend the NIEEEs (National Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering) and NSE (Nigeria Society of Engineering) meeting in Kaduna as an Engineering Student, it is an exposure to understand the present situation of engineering sector at the moment, an exposure to practical and intellectual training from professionals, an exposure to field trip and industrial visitation also direct interaction with made engineers and possiblely job and industrial opportunities.
From research, it has shown that exposure such as this, makes youth to be visionary and patriot of their society, reigniting passion within young engineering creating innovative solution from identified society problem, creating opportunity to learn new things, meet other prospective young engineers and share ideas and be relevance in the society
The big QUESTION is how many young engineers in the making will have this opportunity or how many private or public sector or individuals will provide this opportunity?
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The course curriculum needs to be revisited if we must break this stereotype. The government shouldn’t lay still and watch as the nation’s engineering future dwindles and fades out.
Nobody would help improve our engineering industry for us we need to do it ourselves. Private sectors should partner with institutions in both infrastructure availability and human resource development. The truth is that your manpower comes from these institutions, equip them today and have a capable workforce tomorrow.
Internship opportunities should be created for young engineering student while they are still in school, social organization should be form to facilitate engineering activities and provision for seminar, competition and training should be organised regularly.
We must realize that the present educational system is certificate driven, which should not be. We need to build our lives and careers around being proficient because that is the only way we can stand up to be counted. The task of building a new Nigeria is a general responsibility but I know that it is not a question of whether Nigeria will be great again, it’s only a question of when and who. I believe that the future of the Engineering discipline in Nigeria can only be assured if tomorrow’s key players are equipped today. What tomorrow will look like is a reflection of what we paint on the canvas of today.
What will NSE do?
What will NIEEEs do?
What will COREN do?
What will all stakeholders do?
JC. DANIEL ONOVOH
I am an electrical Engineering student of Kaduna Polytechnic
The Technical Project Developer Enactus Kaduna Polytechnic
The Junior Chamber International (JCI) Chapter President Kaduna Polytechnic
Initiative Developer for #TheGathering