My name is Noah Isang Fred Udosen a Nigerian from AkwaIbom State who does not only dreams but like all other Nigerians wish his dreams could come true. Lately, I have stopped wishing and have decided to take the bull by the horns since it appears those expected to do this are no longer interested in keeping to their words and pledges of which they appended their signatures to. This post will concern itself with the Nigerian Young Chemical Engineers And Industrialization.
What do I mean? When I was in secondary school, I would walk around my school and discover certain things that shouldn’t be. One of such things was waste paper. I started thinking of what to do in order to convert these waste papers to something useful and if they pose any challenge to our environment at all. Good enough, I discovered that when paper decays, it forms methane which is very harmful to the soil especially the microbes and boom goes the dynamite! I started working, forgetting about everything else. To cut the long story short, I made a waste firewood project which I presented at a national conference, the 2013 NTA-etv Science and Technology Expo, Abuja. To God be the glory, I came first in the senior category. Videos are on YouTube till date (winners of nta-etv science and technology expo 2013). In some countries, that is a million dollar enterprise but the reverse is the case in Nigeria, I will tell you all about this as I proceed.
I have attributed the title of this paper to chemical Engineers because there are countless numbers of opportunities present in the chemical engineering industry that we, the young undergraduates are not even thinking about. The most annoying part is that every year, graduates are churned out in their thousands, unemployment turns our graduates into beggars and yet, everyone is doing the same thing the same way but expecting a different result. No one thinks of going out of the box and changing the narratives. Everyone just wants to go to the university, study chemical engineering, apply to work in Mobil, Chevron or any other oil company and be called an Engineer.
What then are the problems with young chemical engineers and industrialization and how can these problems be solved so that this issue of unemployment can permanently be brought to an end and posterity will forever be grateful that our works has bequeathed for them a brighter future?
To start, let’s look at the problems so can we truly understand where we are and where we are going to if nothing drastic is done and done fast!
PROBLEMS AFFECTING YOUNG CHEMICAL ENGINEERS AND INDUSTRIALIZATION
The following problems have been carefully submitted in the course of writing this article for the good of the young undergraduate chemical engineers in particular and the African continent at large! These suggestions are in no way intended to make anyone or group of people feel bad as they are constructive criticism and statement of facts:
PASS AND GO MENTALITY OF BOTH STUDENTS AND LECTURERS:
In a typical Nigerian university, the lecturers just want to complete the syllabus and the students just want to pass all their examinations and leave school after five years. Nobody arouses the intellect of the students towards inventing and converting waste into wealth or working on an already existing idea except their final year where some students even finish their project defense without knowing a dime about what they were doing. The funny thing is that some lecturers dump materials and notes on students who have to cram every single thing as the questions are set across board. In the chemical Engineering practice, no law says engineers cannot go in with their phones and reference materials if they encounter any task. The vest they wear has portions for phones, maps, jotters, calculators, etc where they can refer to formulas when needed. Some lecturers do not prepare students to be qualified engineers; they simply prepare them to pass exams. Little wonder why many students were so happy when one lecturer said that he will provide some formulas at the back of his question paper since he doesn’t want the students to cram formulas that will be provided for them if they end up in the Industry, you need to see the joy on the faces of the students who shouted and thanked the lecturer.
Worse still is the way some students respond to this fire brigade approach. It is very difficult to see a student who is thinking of building an industry from the knowledge imparted into them. They all want to cram, write the exams and pass, after all, there is so much to do and ‘they cannot come and go and kill themselves’. This Is a major problem of the Nigerian Young Chemical Engineers And Industrialization
If there is no paradigm shift, if the same materials, methods and modus operandi used to teach students twenty years ago are still employed today, then we are headed for doom. Unemployment will continue to be on the rise and universities will continue to churn out graduates in their thousands who will have nothing to offer the outside world.
LACK OF FUNDING:
That waste paper firewood was not the only thing we did, there were many more, many laurels were won and Akwaibom in particular and Nigeria in general were placed on high pedestals, that’s not the crust of the matter, the issue is that directors of ministries and Engineering professors were used as judges in these competitions and after announcing the winners, the need for industrialization and commercialization of these ideas was never a need to them nor the federal government. When politicians present their manifestos and campaign for votes, they tell the people what the people want to hear like indigenous industrialization, development of local content, decrease in importation and increase in locally made goods and services, etc, when the win and are sworn in, they do what they want to do.
Lack of funds to finance the myriads of business plans developed by graduates is already discouraging the young undergraduate chemical engineers in Nigerian tertiary institutions who are taking a clue from their elder brothers and sisters from thinking creatively.
FAMILY INFLUENCE AND PEER PRESSURE:
The great Albert Einstein was said: “Everyone is a genius but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life thinking it is useless”. No one better captures the influence of family and peer pressure on the choice of course for some students like Albert. Imagine if the father of Mohammed Ali forced him to be a musician and the father of Michael Jackson forced him to become a boxer! What of a waste of talent they would have been and a nuisance they would have created for the world.
Sadly, a major factor why young undergraduate chemical engineers are not even interested in creating chemical engineering industries is because after a boring class, they run to the studio to finish up the scoring and recording of their songs while others continue in painting a portrait they abandoned to attend CHE??? Class. Expecting this class of students to think creatively as regards chemical engineering and industrialization is like expecting a fish to climb a tree or a monkey to swim across oceans.
Some students are doing Engineering because it is a professional course and at the end, they will be called Engineers or because their friends are doing it and are posting pictures of their lab sessions.
DEMAND FOR NIGERIAN LOCALLY MADE GOODS AND SERVICES:
America does not like China but they respect China. America does not like Nigeria and they do not respect Nigeria because even Nigerians do not respect their fellow Nigerians and the product and services created in Nigeria. Time was when Taiwan Products made no impact but the Chinese people knew better, they patronized themselves and it wasn’t long when the world started looking for their products. Here in Nigeria, the reverse is the case and it is discouraging the young undergraduate Chemical Engineers who do not see an available market if they go through the hurdles of industrialization in Nigeria.
SOLUTIONS TO THE PROBLEMS AFFECTING YOUNG NIGERIAN CHEMICAL ENGINEERS AND INDUSTRIALIZATION
Without much elaborations, the problems enumerated above is as crystal clear as the biblical teketekemeneuphasin, it is audible to the deaf and visible to the blind that the time has come for us to rise up to the task of building our nation and as you know, no nation develops without industries. It is important to recall that industrial revolutions led to the development of world powers like America, Britain, China, Russia, etc.
We too in Nigeria can help our nation if the following solutions to the problems affecting young chemical Engineers are implemented:
- Some lecturers should focus on making Engineers and not just preparing them to pass exams. Engineers in the society should be problem solvers and inculcating them problem solving spirit in them should start in the school.
- Funds should be provided by the Federal Government to sponsor at least twenty best undergraduate projects for commercialization and the industrialization of the country will be easy.
- Families should allow students choose what they want to study because they won’t write the exams or practice for them.
- Innoson motors is now making waves across Africa and so too can your products reach the lengths and breadths of the world when we start buying our locally made goods and stop tagging them ‘Aba made’.
It is worthy of note that China has been ruled for the last three dispensations by Engineers and Advocates for this supposed Chinese approach, such as the entrepreneur Elon Musk, argue that it produces leaders who adopt a pragmatic and technocratic framework to solving problems. And those engineer-politicians, the theory goes, are more likely to govern efficiently, in part because they are unburdened by ideology. As a matter of fact, the current President XiJinping is a chemical engineer by training and practice, little wonder why America respects China. Yes, these presidents of the most industrialized nation were once undergraduate chemical engineers and today, their nation and even Africa as a whole is thanking them for it. See you at the top!
Noah Fred is a 400 level Chemical Engineering Student.
He is the current Secretary General of the faculty of Engineering (NUESA – Uniuyo) and the current Secretary General of the National Association of IkotAbasi Students (NAIKAS Worldwide).
He can be reached on: email@example.com
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