Bridging the Gap Between Young Engineers and National Economic Development through Leadership By Athan Oparaji

…No nation has ever achieved greatness without industrialization.

Engineering science and technology are the bedrock of every society towards national economic development. This development is achieved by societies through industrialization to be self sustaining and self sufficient as strong economies.

Take for instance United States of America as a case study. We all want to go to America but have we asked what made America great. It would surprise many that a number of tech advancements and products that came out of America after the Second World War were the work of young German or Japanese scientists and engineers. America lifted about 1500 German scientists and engineers to U.S and gave them citizenship and work permits.The aim was to make America great.

In the present administration, President Donald Trump has already found success pushing specific companies to expand their manufacturing operations in the U.S. Shortly after he won the election in November, 2017 Trump touted a deal he negotiated with Carrier, an air conditioning company with plants in Indiana, to spare thousands of American jobs by canceling a planned move to Mexico. Although Carrier has laid off some workers in the months since Trump visited the Indianapolis plant, the deal was one of the first achievements Trump notched as president-elect.

President Trump also unveiled a $10 billion investment in Wisconsin by Foxconn, an electronics manufacturer, that he said would create 13,000 jobs in the Badger State. For Foxconn to invest and decide to open operations in Wisconsin, in the U.S. was due to Trump’s pro-growth agenda.

Trump has dedicated significant attention to his job creation plans, including by hosting events that promote apprenticeships, launching a “Hire American, Buy American” campaign and delivering speeches focused on technological innovations. This boils down to leadership as written in my article: Understanding the Principle of Leadership by Athan Oparaji

China is another case study. The socialist market economy of the People’s Republic of China is the world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP and the world’s largest economy by purchasing power parity. Until 2015, China was the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% over 30 years. You can see the great effect of the current president of China: Xi Jinping who is also a chemical engineer.

When you know about the president you will understand that engineers not only study about engineering but also the economy of the world. What am I saying? Engineering is a global profession because we are problem solvers and we should encourage our young vibrant and talented engineers to be a part of the leadership process in driving the economy to its national economic development.

Also in China, after studying abroad, the government encourages its youth to come back and practice despite having one of the largest population in the world.

Recently, I had a conversation with the Chairman of a company in Korea and we established a strong relationship because he saw something in me as a young engineer. We have even planned to share many values together. If we are willing to identify talents, encourage them and help them achieve dreams that will benefit all it will make underdeveloped and developing countries a great place to live. Look at talents in places like Aba,Nnewi, Abakiliki,Kano and other places in Nigeria as case study, you see that a lot needs to be done in our leadership process but we can still rise again if we implement some of these models that will take us out from under development and dependency.

Look at some of our young engineers.They know how to create value, as well as engineer artefacts. They may be entrepreneurial or inventive, collectivist or individualist, but they will all be exceptional if they are encouraged by those in the upper echelons of leadership. They will bear no resemblance to the generic, interchangeable, compliant, dependent, characterless, clueless so-called “engineers” so many universities presently turn out, unemployable as engineers. To paraphrase Roosevelt, “I could carve a better engineer out of a banana than most of that lot”, but it’s not their fault. Wrong students, wrong class sizes, wrong teachers, wrong curriculum, wrong institutional focus. What else can we expect? I do feel sorry for them. They have been conned but all hope is not lost as we can still rise again with the right leadership needed for national economic development.

Therefore, a bold vision is needed, to give engineering students,young engineers, teachers,employers and decision makers the engineering education and support they need in the leadership process to bridge the gap between our young engineers and national economic development.

To crown it all, I think leadership should be taught as a subject from the grassroots. This will help rewrite our story.

Ikenna Athan Oparaji is a poet, creative picturesque writer,chemical engineer and currently an Asset Integrity Engineer at Liquid Energy Global Services Limited. Kindly follow him on Twitter @athanoparaji


  1. The author has highlighted some topical issues, worth analyzing, while buttressing his point.
    We must understand certain things from their fundaments to properly handle them.
    1. Engineer, an adulteration of Ingenier – from the rule of English word formation – means Brainworker. Engineers are therefore brainworkers, as opposed to handworkers.
    2. National Economic Development entails that citizens of such nation acquires the capacity to build and implement its felt-needs.
    3. China was, originally, a communist – not socialist – state but currently worships no economic ideology. She is currently focused on providing for her population, irrespective of the procedure employed.

    Even if we choose the best economic ideology in the world, we can’t develop Nigeria with our type of mindset. In Nigeria; government appoints people to jobs as a favour, to give them salary to feed themselves and meet other responsibilities, not as a necessity to increase yield in profit for government to meet her social responsibilities. For this reason, they could afford to appoint anybody to any position wothout recourse to competence or innate potential. Federal Character is more important than industry and resourcefulness while mediocrity is valued above ingenuity. The result is gradual but sustained impoverishment and poverty in the midst of plenty.
    We can’t do the wrong things and expect the right results, praying and fasting will never change the result. We cant continue to do the same thing and expect a different result, that would be foolishness.
    If we (Ingeniers) must be taken seriously, we must value this profession for what it is or should be.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here