The Nigerian Society of Engineers, Eket branch, embarked on an educational visit to the Engineering Faculty of the Akwa Ibom State University, Ikot Akpaden, Akwa Ibom State, on the 27th of January 2015. This visit was in line with the Society’s resolve to bridge the gap between Engineering Professionals and the Academia, and also to offer professional advice and career counseling to the students. NSE also used the opportunity to share with the authorities, some of the challenges encountered in engineering education in Nigeria, hence, positioned to identify the possible ways of ameliorating such setbacks. The NSE team was led by the branch chairman, Engr. Godwin Umoh, MNSE. The first port of call during the visit was the office of the Dean of the Engineering Faculty, where NSE identified with principal officers of the university. He welcomed the NSE team on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, management and staff of the institution and described the visit as a welcome development for both the institution and the Engineering students who would definitely perceive such gesture as an inspiration to strive towards their chosen career. He mentioned that some of the key challenges in engineering education would be better appreciated, some of which border on difficulties encountered by students in securing a place for Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES), as well as lack of adequate facilities for practical application of theoretical knowledge. He then called on NSE to take the message home and assist to improve the situation in various capacities.
The highpoint of the visit was the interactive session with the students, in which the branch chairman delivered a seminar on Roadmap for professional development. At the seminar, participants were enlightened on the requirements and procedures to attain the various grades of NSE membership which are broadly categorized into: Student, Graduate, Associate, Corporate Members etc. Engr. Umoh, also highlighted roles of an Engineer in the society which demands focus, diligence and honesty, giving no room for incompetence since an error from an Engineer could be very costly, and could lead to loss of life, property and the natural environment.
The students were further enlightened on the vast opportunities that exist in the profession, and encouraged them to register in NSE as student members. On this note, the branch chairman reaffirmed his commitment to fulfill his promise of assisting two hundred students with their registration into the student membership of the society.
The President of the Nigeria University Engineering Students Association (NUESA), Akwa Ibom State University, Mr. Tom Kingsley Akpan, on behalf of the students, lauded the branch for their continuous support for the students of the institution. He recalled that the branch had on various occasions made the NSE bus available for students to attend NSE activities, remarkable among them was the transportation and logistics support provided for some students to enable them attend the recently concluded World Engineering Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure (WECSI – Abuja, 2014). The students were also given opportunity to raise burning issues regarding their expected benefits of becoming members of the society. The key challenges of engineering education raised by both staff and students of the university were properly identified and adequately noted. NSE therefore, proposed a road map for improvement of the Engineering Education on Nigeria. They called for an in-depth review and evaluation of Nigerian engineering education curriculum, due to the fact that curriculum of Engineering is not static but dynamic.
NSE equally stressed that attending national and international conferences should be encouraged among teaching staff of universities by creating incentives in form of subsidy arrangement, in order to keep them abreast with the recent works and researches in various fields. It was also proposed that students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) should be reviewed periodically to make it more effective. Industrial attachment for teaching staff should be encouraged at least once a year, especially during the vacation period by some sort of Industry-University arrangement. It was equally proposed that there should be a proactive collaboration between academia, government and industry with respect to engineering education, as regards funding research and development.