The National Chairman, Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE), Engr. Dr. Robinson I. Ejilah has called for closer working relationship between Professional Engineering Institutions (PEIs) and other critical stakeholders in the educational and industrial sectors with International Association for the Exchange and Science and Technical Experience (IAESTE) in Nigeria. This clarion call was sounded while making a presentation titled ‘Towards a Strategic Partnership of PEIs, IAESTE, Employers, Governments, and Universities in Nigeria’ at the Global IAESTE Forum, in the just concluded 72nd IAESTE Annual Conference that took place in January 18-24, 2019, at the Mediterranean Beach Hotel in Limassol, Republic of Cyprus.
According to the IAESTE Development Manager, Olga Legacka, the Global IAESTE Forum was put in place to encourage IAESTE members & co-operating institutions to share their knowledge and best practices on different aspects of ‘doing’ IAESTE, and to inspire each other. The Forum’s activities best finds expression once a year during the annual conference, to promote exchange offers and do better exchanges.
Dr Ejilah made this call in cognizance of the burgeoning influence of the 72 year old organisation in promoting mutual cooperation, international understanding and solidarity for purpose of advancing the course of peaceful coexistence of nations through student exchange programme for technical experience.
The NIMechE leader told the enthusiastic audience that Nigeria with a population of over 180 million people, rich cultural diversity and abundant natural and human resources, and a nation with about 160 universities is undoubtedly a fertile ground for thriving IAESTE activities. He added that the Nigerian engineering community, which comprise of the; professional engineering group, consulting engineering group, and engineering regulatory group are robust enough to facilitate the partnership IAESTE seeks,only if the proper framework of engagement is put in place. He also noted that the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) –the most influential of the professional engineering group – had emerged as a ‘mighty oak from a little acorn’ over its 60 year of existence and ‘birthed’ 25 professional engineering institutions (PEIs), with each representing distinct areas of engineering practice and professionalism.
The Chairman added that NIMechE is undeniably one of the leading PEIs in Nigeria, on account of its membership strength, spread of corporate and student chapters, vibrant partnership and collaboration with a propensity for deep social penetration, and professional networking across its wide range of members stretching across; undergraduate and graduate students, academics, practicing engineers, captains of industries, traditional rulers, university leaders, top government bureaucrats and politicians. He also assured the global audience that tapping into these key strength areas could promote and deepen the strategic relationship being sought by IAESTE, with employers, industries and governments. Dr Ejilah encouraged IAESTE to explore the inherent potentials of Nigerian PEIs, and broaden IAESTE’s access to job-raising, internship, and career building opportunities throughout its networks for engineering students.
In his brief remark before making a presentation of NIMechE memorabilia to the IAESTE President, Prof Bernard Baeyens, He thanked Prof. Baeyens for extending the AC 2019 invitation to him, and also providing him the opportunity to address the Global IAESTE Forum among other speakers drawn from; the Czech Republic, China, United Kingdom, Austria, Canada, Portugal, Tunisia and Brazil.
The NIMechE Chairman remarked that IAESTE is somewhat a ‘mini-United Nations’ for the fact that they both share similar values, and also enjoy a representation of diverse nationalities. He stated that besides providing access for the right technical and cultural exposure to young interns in their course of pursuit towards future technology leadership, IAESTE platform also provides an avenue for bilateral engagement on scientific, education and cultural levels, for mutual cooperation, international understanding and world peace. He assured Prof. Baeyens of NIMechE’s willingness to add its voice to the IAESTE advocacy on his return to Nigeria.
The opening ceremony of the Annual Conference was graced by the Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Dr Nikos Christodoulides, also had in attendance representatives from 86 countries of the world with over 200 delegates. The Nigerian delegation participated in the joint deliberations on the activities and future of the IAESTE organisation; in the exchange activities for research and industrial training placement positions (internships) between member-countries and participating in the Global IAESTE Forum, and also in the cultural interaction summits respectively.
The outing was considered a success on account of the following key achievements; New in-roads into building relations with IAESTE Chile, Cyprus, Ecuador, Kazakhstan, and Malta, raised our bilateral dealings to 51 IAESTE member-countries; A successful exchange activity of 46 pre-arranged research and industrial training offers with 29 countries was established; Deutschland Academic Exchange Service, DAAD (i.e. IAESTE Germany) was re-engaged in respect of incoming research students (i.e. at the Masters and PhDs level); receipts of concrete commitment from IAESTE Switzerland for developing bilateral training and cultural diplomacy programme to complement our IAESTE exchange relations were achieved. These among other offers, gave the Nigerian team a satisfactory feeling with the year’s event.
The members of the Nigerian IAESTE Exchange delegation are:
i. Prof. Jacob Ehiorobo – Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, University of Benin, Benin City;
ii. Prof. Emmanuel Ogujor – Rector, Delta State Polytechnic, Otefe-Oghara;
iii. Prof. Ikechukwu Dozie – Director, CRID., Federal University of Technology, Owerri;
iv. Dr Robinson Ejilah – National Chairman, Nigerian Institution for Mechanical Engineers (NIMechE);
v. Mr Otamere Akpata – Exchange Administrator, IAESTE Nigeria, and;
vi. Mr Otabor Ahanor – National Secretary and Programme Coordinator, IAESTE Nigeria
The IAESTE Organisation was established in 1948, and with more than 85 member-countries; it is the largest science and engineering exchange programme of its kind. As an independent non-governmental organisation, IAESTE has operational relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and maintains a consultative relationship with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). The main aims of the Annual Conference are: to exchange traineeships between Members and Co-operating Institutions and to decide on important issues about the future of the Association, and to bring together Members and Co-operating Institutions.
NIMechE is indeed grateful to the IAESTE asbl Board members, IAESTE asbl support team, IAESTE Cyprus AC Subcommittee, Cyprus University of Technology AC Planning committee and IAESTE- Nigeria for a very successful event.