About 400 students from tertiary schools in Nigeria are to compete for best engineering innovation ideas through the ‘Forging Africa’s Future Mechanical Engineers (FAFME)’, project of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers (NImechE).
The project is a game-changer in the field of youth development designed to provide opportunity to young person, to explore their entrepreneurial potential and move away from crisis reduction, to strengthen engineering based programmes.
It comes as a capacity-building programme under the Royal Academy of Engineering, United Kingdom, in association with Global Challenges Research Fund, (GCRF).
Participants are to be trained on engineering designs and skills, such as welding, automobile, maintenance, operations and metal fabrication. Other components of the projects include, chapter/campus competition, zonal competition, national capacity building boot camp for 200 participants and 40 mentors across Nigeria, sponsored engineering design training for 100 people, establishment of a digital design and fabrication hub in Ikorodu to create a sustaining environment for individuals and businesses and encourage growth of local innovation ecosystems among others.
The Project manager/grant awardee for the project, Mrs. Osazoduwa Agboneni told The Guardian at the flag-off of the programme, in Lagos, that the initiative aims to bridge the gap between the gown and the industry through capacity building, prepare young engineers to be entrepreneurs and make them believe that whatever they think, they could do, and achieve it.
According to her, the task of nation building requires the selflessness of all, and FAFME is a call to nation building stressing that NIMechE and the Royal Academy of Engineering cannot do it alone, hence the need to solicit the support of all and sundry, the government and well-meaning individuals to assist in the bold step of producing change makers.
She said the in the course of the project, the students with best mechanical innovation idea, will be attached to a mentor and be given money to fund their inventions and transform it into reality.
“We are looking at building the mechanical engineering skills of Nigerian students and graduates who has left school between zero to four years, on how they could improve their skills because many of them are out of school and jobless. We have a lot of innovative ideas coming from our schools but nothing is been done to commercialise the projects. We want to get the best mechanical engineering projects from schools and let them compete with other schools in different states, and zonal level.
“It is disheartening, that we hardly produce bolts in Nigeria, and I believed that we should be able to produce bolts. We are looking at having 3D- printers and other facilities that would help to come out with a good prototype, have good product for the market and create jobs as well as break the prices in the market instead of importing products”, she stated.
Speaking on the project, the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabiru Adewale Shotobi, lamented the lack of maintenance culture of major power facilities in the country charging Nigerian engineers to do the needful by improving skill development of young practitioners to revive the nation.
Oba Shotobi challenged young engineers participating in the project to wake up and make the nation great.
The national chairman, Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Robinson Ejilah in a remark posited that innovation is at the heart of economic growth and job creation as it could transform productivity, efficiency and address many of the world’s longstanding and emerging challenges like climate change, health, education and social inclusiveness. He pledged that the association would adequately support the project by putting in place structures for training and mentoring of youths in mechanical engineering design and fabrication skills among others.