…as Reverse engineering takes centre stage
The public lecture organised by the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Victoria Island under the leadership of Engr Rose Madaki is one of the finest moments for many engineers who grace the event. Not that it has not organised a bigger one but in term of practical solutions offered to address Nigeria’s industrialization challenges and the way engineers can achieve this, it lived up to the billing.
With the NSE President, Engr Adekunle Mokuolu in attendance, and many captains of industry from both civilian and military establishments, the event offered the engineers opportunity to share ideas as well as provided glimpses into reverse engineering process and our industrialization goal.
The Keynote speaker at the event, Engr Chima Ibeneche who has extensive industry knowledge across the broad spectrum of the economy both in engineering and management including being a principal partner at Execution Edge Limited and a former SNEPCo Managing Director, did justice to the topic.
In her opening address, the hardworking chairman Engr Rose Madaki, who is honoured to hold three distinctive chairmanship positions (Chairman of Victoria Island Branch, chairman of Lagos NSE Branches and Chairman of all national Branches Chairmen) had chronicled efforts and activities of the Branch to cement its legacy as‘…the branch that makes the difference. She had outlined some of her efforts at building the human capacity for engineers through various intervention programmes, both local and international which culminated in the organizing the first of its kind free 2 weeks intensive training in various fields in conjunction with Bank of Industry. Her enthusiasm that the keynote speaker will give audience something refreshing to take home was soon to be confirmed.
Indeed, the President of NSE Engr Adekunle Mokuolu in his address acknowledged these innovative, progressive oriented programmes by the Branch and commended its leadership under Engr Rose Madaki and her efforts at breaking many new grounds.. He pointed out that Victoria Island hold the unique advantage of hosting the Oil and Gas community who are the drivers of the Nigeria’s economy and host of other sectors. He urged members to continue to support the NSE and its programmes.
Reverse engineering must be backed with focus on addressing identifiable challenge…
Meanwhile, engineers shave been advised to focus on deploying their skills into addressing the challenges of the society if Nigeria must truly industrialize. This was part of the keynote address by the Managing Partner, Execution Edge Limited, Engr Chima Ibeneche at the event. He also advised the engineering community must learn to meet the market demands rather than adopting wholesale technological know-how from the developed countries.
Engr Ibeneche who is also a former Managing Director at the Shell Exploration and Production Company, SNEPCo was presenting the topic “Reverse Engineering and industrialization in Nigeria”.
In his address, he identified the many ways the engineers can benefit from and deploy reverse engineering. He however cautioned that the Reverse engineering itself is not the end but an end to a means. Saying that while we can glimpse a lot of things from reverse engineering it actual benefit “depends on the objectives of the reverse engineering effort.’’
He said that the information gained through the process of reverse engineering can also be “used as an input into the design of a new and different product. Or used to design an interface protocol that enables interoperability of the reverse engineered item with a totally different product.’’
For Nigeria’s collective growth the reverse engineering is interwoven to the industrialization because of the benefits it will have on the economy and the social well-being. He however noted that while reverse engineering by itself is not necessarily critical to industrialization, as engineering itself is a function of problem solving.
The extreme weakness we have in technician education in Nigeria is a major hindrance to turning engineering into industrialization.”
”Industrialization thrives however on the availability of raw materials that will be converted to more valued products; availability of energy source to drive machines and transforming materials; economic rational and justification for the investments in machines and factories, including market for products and, in most cases, benign government policies that reduce the risks initially faced by industrialists to a manageable and acceptable level.’ He said.
”A good industrialist can often buy the required engineering competences by purchasing a process machine and paying the vendor to train her employees. In fact, investors in general focus on availability of market for products, the availability of energy and raw materials and on securing a favourable regulatory regime.” He emphasized.
“Once these are in place, the industrialist simply procures the machines and the associated engineering as a product or service. Alternatively, assurance that the raw material, energy, market and regulatory requirements are in place enables the investor to commission the engineering and manufacture of the factory. When the industrial process is commissioned, its operation can be leveraged to build local engineering capability.” he explained.
Further, he drew attention to the weak link toward industrialization as the education sector. saying: “Engineers have a pivotal role to play in industrialization. As engineers who desire to see Nigeria industrialized, we must first improve engineering education and apprenticeship so we can do proper engineering and effective reverse engineering. The extreme weakness we have in technician education in Nigeria is a major hindrance to turning engineering into industrialization.”
“go beyond the engineering discipline and seek solutions that ensure we have the ecosystem in which industrialization can thrive.”
Engr Ibeneche, brought his vast experiences in both technical and management sections to bear when he charged the engineers to “go beyond the engineering discipline and seek solutions that ensure we have the ecosystem in which industrialization can thrive.”
“We must acquire the commercial capabilities that enable the right choices between industrial or project concepts. The foremost industrialists in Nigeria today are not engineers. The greatest of them all is a trader called Dangote. Other traders and bankers dominate the landscape. Why? Because they have focused on solving the challenges of the commercial and business processes and of the ecosystem. They, as traders have identified what the market wants and have proceeded to meet the identified needs using the industrial processes.” He observed.
As engineers, we must solve problems that the market wants solved.
Giving example of how engineers can apply this tested approach he said “Nigeria is in the humid tropics,which means that our ambient temperatures are around 30-40 degrees C. Here in the South, the relative humidity is usually greater than 70%. This information alone makes it clear that air conditioning will remain the greatest driver of consumer energy demand as the economy grows. It also implies that the sustainable and possibly cost effective, energy we can use for air conditioning is solar energy, because our built spaces are hottest when the sun is brightest.”
“Should we wait for the problem of solar air conditioning to be solved and then reverse engineer it? Should we not be the leaders in solar air conditioning because of our unique circumstances? The general air conditioning problem has been solved using AC motors to drive compressors and fans. Solar air conditioning only requires the replacement of AC motors with efficient DC equivalents, and the additional use of battery technology for powering night-time cooling. Solve this problem, and you are on your way to industrializing Nigeria, in addition to earning foreign exchange from all tropical and humid countries.” he challenged the engineers.
In concluding his address, Engr Chima reflected: “I do not think that reverse engineering is the optimal route for industrializing Nigeria. Surely, “it can play an important role, but I ask, why focus on reverse engineering? Is it most efficient, most cost effective or just plain fun? Industrialization is not an end; it is a servant of the economy and the market. I would say, use your engineering skills to solve the problems of the economy and the marketplace and you will be on your way to an industrializing Nigeria.”
“Is it possible to use reverse engineering or engineering tools to solve the debilitating problem of electric power availability and distribution? Can engineering reverse the desertification of the landmass in the northern part of Nigeria? Can it solve the erosion problems of the south? Can it solve the problem of over 60% post-harvest loss in our agriculture sector? Can it make it unnecessary for cows to trek for hundreds of kilometres from farm to market? Let us identify the big problems in our economy. Let us design solutions to these problems using engineering skills. If we do, I believe industrialization will be one of the collateral consequences.” He concluded.
Various contributors also share their ideas with almost everyone agreeing that Nigeria has enough human resources (engineers) with enough skills and knowledge to deliver first class infrastructures if given the opportunity. The main challenge however is the absence of trust by the politicians in their own professionals.
Some of the dignitaries in attendance are; Engr Adekunle Mokuolu, NSE President, Engr Babagana Muhammad, Deputy president, Engr Chima Ibeneche, former Managing Director, Shell Exploration and Production Company, Mr Osita Aboloma (esq) DG Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Engr Charles Maduka, Former President of NSE, Engr Joanna Olu Maduka, immediate past president of Nigerian Academy of Engineering, Major general B. O. Ogunkale, former Director General Defense industry Corporation of Nigeria, Col. M. C. Akin-Ojo, Engr. Dr. Felicia Agubata, President APWEN, Engr Akintunde Zedomi, Former President of Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, NIMechE, Engr. kayode Akiode, Executive General manager, Total E & P, Engr Joseph Ifiezua, Deputy General Manager, Total E & P and Engr Chinyere N. Igwegbe, , National Executive Member NSE, host of others.
compiled by Isqil Najim and can be reached on twitter (@isqilnajim)