BY ENGR H.O.Z. EZEMA
This speech is aimed at guiding our students especially those inclined in science in selecting their subjects for the school certificate examination. It will also make an interesting article to parents and guardians who might decide to make impute in the career choice of their wards especially with regards to their choice of courses in the universities and other institutions of higher learning.
By capturing these future generations of Engineers, Technologists and Scientists young, we in the Presidential Committee on Engineering Technology and Innovation in Nigeria shall be playing our role towards the Technological revolution of our beloved Country Nigeria. It is our heart desire to turn our country from perpetual dependence on other countries for importation of world’s products of Technology to manufacturers thereby creating jobs for our people, a major step towards permanent solution to unemployment problems in Nigeria. In the words of one of the Presidential Candidates for 2023 Presidential election Mr. Peter Obi “We will move Nigeria from consumption to production”
Most of our secondary school students while choosing their subjects for the school certificate deviate from those subjects that will lead them to professions of their dream and by the time, they realize their folly it is already late. Such students when faced with such predicaments have no alternative than to pursue courses contrary to their ambition and area of interest. We are living in a Technological era with diminishing prospects for white cola jobs hence our educational system needs to be tuned towards production of more self-reliant graduates in Engineering and Technology.
One may then ask, “What is engineering all about?” the Oxford Advance Learner’s Dictionary of current English defined Engineering as the application of science for the control and use of power especially by the use of machines.
The phrase “application of science” stresses the need for a prospective Engineer to possess the basic knowledge of Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology and Further Mathematics. In fact, Engineering has to do with the research, design and construction of all the sweet products of the world’s technology like handsets, I pad, televisions sets, video tapes, good roads, bridges including flyovers, water supply, high rise buildings, and other sophisticated buildings.
OUR FOUNDING FATHERS:
The first Civil Engineer in Nigeria is Late Herbert Macaulay who is regarded as the doyen of Nigerian Engineers. He was the first Nigerian to gain Scholarship in Playmouth University England where he studied Civil Engineering from 1891-1894.He later made his mark in Politics in his fight against neo-colonialism. He died in 1946 and was immortalized by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the one naira note in addition to naming major streets in Nigeria after his name.
Other early graduates of Engineering include George Agbebi 1911, Ishola Philips 1930, Adekunle Coker 1934, Ekundayo Ajayi 1936 and Adeniyi Williams 1936 who later became the first President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers from 1959 to 1962 an umbrella body of all Engineers in Nigeria.
Here in Plateau State, the Pioneer Chairman of Nigerian Society of Engineers Jos Branch is Engr. S.O. Ajose FNSE [1985-1987] while the Pioneer Chairman Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers Jos Chapter is Engr. Okey Ezema FNSE, FNICE. [2008-2011].
BRANCHES OF ENGINEERING;
Engineering like any other profession, has many branches among which are:
Biomedical and Genetic Engineering
Electrical/ Electronic Engineering
Metallurgical /Materials Engineering
To qualify to study any of these courses, in any of the Nigerian Universities or Polytechnics, one has to pass Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry at credit level in addition to at least a pass in English Language in School Certificate Examination or its equivalent in General Certificate of Education Examination. Credit level in Additional Mathematics [Further Maths] is not a basic qualification but an advantage.
To this end, I advise that all secondary school students should as matter of expediency go through the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board brochure to enable them know the relevant subjects leading to the profession of their dreams before choosing their subjects for the school certificate examination.
BENEFIT OF ENGINEERING TO NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Most of us are fond of driving on good roads and bridges, reside in sophisticated buildings own luxurious motor cars, enjoy electricity, good drinking water, good handsets, computers, etc. yet none of us ever sat down to think about how he or she came about such things: who designed and constructed them,
No wonder why late Professor Kenneth. Onwuka Dike of Harvard University had this to say “Nigerians are ardent consumers of the sweet products of world’s technology to which her contribution is either minimal or non-existent …. This situation must have to change”
This statement made 38 years ago is still relevant today. If you visit most Nigerian markets, you will shudder to see the quantity of hand sets, battery chargers and phone accessories television sets generators cars, motorcycles, bicycles etc.
Almost all these products including tooth picks are imported from China, Japan, Korea, US and other foreign countries.
Think of transformers, conductors, cables and other electrical equipment, most of them are imported from India.
It is in the light of these cases of overdependence on foreign goods that I wish to discuss briefly the contribution of various engineering courses to national development.
Civil Engineering for a start, is a conglomeration of structural, highway. Geotechnical, environmental, Construction, Water Resources etc. This branch of Engineering takes care of the structural stability and construction of high rise and well sophisticated buildings all over the world. In Nigeria for instance, the structural stability of the popular Durba Hotel Kaduna, the National Stadium Lagos, the Abuja Stadium Complex, the Sheraton Hotel, the Nicon Noga Hotel Abuja, The Joseph Gomwalk Building Jos are the handwork of civil Engineers, Electrical Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, Architects and builders. Civil Engineers are also responsible for the design and construction of roads, bridges (flyover Inclusive), tunnels elevated Highway construction, pipeline, factories communication and power line construction, residential, industrial and commercial buildings etc.
Highway Engineers are responsible for the design and construction of roads and bridges all over the country. You can imagine if there is no bridge across river Benue or the River Niger at Lokoja, no vehicle can pass from North to the Southern part of the country. You can only pass in a boat or swim or by air with the risks involved.
Water Resources [Branch of Civil Engineering]is responsible for the design and provision of water supply, Dams Spillways, boreholes etc.
Geotechnical Engineering is the branch of Civil Engineering responsible for analysis and investigation of subsoil conditions which guide structural Engineers in their analysis and design of structures. Geophysical Investigations help borehole explorers in determining locations for borehole drilling.
Environmental Engineers [Civil] are responsible for erosion control, land reclamation and solid waste management to keep the environment in a habitable clean state.
Civil Engineering is so vast with numerous job opportunities on graduation. Civil Engineers are also involved in the Civil works of Power Station construction.
This is another vast branch of Engineering. This branch of Engineering is responsible for the electrification of houses, Cars, and other power devises. You can imagine if we don’t have power for one week, no charging of phones, no ironing of clothes, no light for reading, no music to listen to, and no television to watch, etc. life will be a little bit boring. The power distribution, high tension and low-tension voltage supplies are the handwork of electrical Engineers. You can’t even drive your cars without the electrical system in place.
Electrical/Electronic Engineering take care of the design and manufacture of electrical measuring instruments test equipment, sound systems, television and radio sets, computer accessories, tape recorders, camcorders, conductors, power distribution in houses,
transformers, industrial appliance, house hold cooking equipment, commercial, industrial and institutional electrical lighting fixtures, telephone, etc.
Mechanical/ Production Engineering: takes care of the design and production of different types or motor car parts like motor-car engines, internal combustion engines. Mechanical Engineers also produce mining machineries and accessories, turbine generator sets; garden tractors, industrial cranes, conveyors, trailers, industrial trucks, textile machinery, food products machinery, exhaust and ventilation fans, scales and balances, air condition and refrigeration equipment, pressing machines, carburetors, piston and rings, chains etc. You can agree with me that without mechanical Engineers the machines with which to print newspaper, money, text books, etc. would not have come into existence. All the luxury cars like, etc. are the All the luxury cars like Mercedes Benz S class, BMW, Toyota Camry luxury Edition, Honda, Range Rover Sports, Volvo X90, Toyota Rav4, Infinity, Ford Edge, etc. are the handwork of mechanical and electrical Engineers.
Most of these cars come with navigation control. People are so impressed and excited with the products of Mechanical/Automobile Engineers that they have branded them names like Anaconda, the end of discussion, the Discussion continues, Baby boy, First Lady, Evil Spirit, the muscle, the big for nothing etc.
BIOMEDICAL AND GENETICS ENGINEERING
Biomedical and Genetic Engineering in a nutshell is responsible for the design and production of all the life saving devices used by Doctors in our hospitals. Stethoscope, thermometers, blood pressure apparatus, cathode ray tubes and other X-ray equipment are not left out here. Without these equipment’s, it will not be easy for Doctors to diagnose patient’s ailment Cathode Ray tubes and other X-ray equipment are not left out here. You can see that even the Doctors will be helpless without the product of Biomedical and Genetic Engineers.
Chemical Engineering concerns the study of the manufacture of organic pigments, plastic material, soap, detergent, paints, gum, fertilizers, agricultural pesticides, explosives like bombs, clothes etc. You can imagine the life of farmers without fertilizers from Chemical Engineers or attending this function without taking your bath without their soap of not brushing with their tooth paste..
Chemical/Petroleum Engineers also oversee to the refining of crude petroleum which is the bedrock of Nigerian Economy as at today.
This arm of Engineering is responsible for the manufacture and maintenance of Aircraft all over the world. You can imagine yourself taking off from General Yakubu Gowon Airport Jos in Arik Airline and arriving at Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos within 45 minutes –a journey of twelve hours through bumps and thorns of different descriptions—the Vehicle Inspection Officers, The Road Safety, The Police checks, The Customs The Drug Law Enforcement Agents, The Kidnapers, The Armed Robbers, The Bad roads, and of late the Herds men.
The Aeronautic Engineers produce Jet Fighters, Jet Bombers, Cargo Planes, and off recent Drones which can be maned at the comfort of your station.
The ladies among us can still study Engineering, Quantity Surveying, and Food Technology etc. Most bachelors these days are looking for productive women to marry.
A course like Food Technology concerns the study of production and preservation of sausage, tread, cakes, creamery butter, ice cream, yoghurt, jams, jellies, chocolate, cane sugar refining, Beet sugar, malt beverages, and other confectionaries.
AGRIC ENGINEERING: Agric Engineers are responsible for solving agricultural problems of efficiency of Agric machines use of Agric structures and facilities, storage and processing of Agric products mechanical farming supervision etc.
Good roads and bridges, good water supply, sophisticated houses, nice communication systems, etc. determine the standard of living of any nation.
All these are the handiwork of Engineers, Architects and Scientists.
All the various fields of Engineering work paripassu. For instance, the NICON NOGA and Sheraton Hotels which appear to be the biggest hotels in Nigeria couldn’t have been so magnificent without the Architectural Design [Architects]. It couldn’t have been safe to withstand all the loads on it without structural design (Civil Engineers). Neither could it have been erected without construction Engineers (Civil Engineers). Work on the building wouldn’t have been complete without the electrical installation by [ Electrical Engineers]. Finally, the much-needed comfort wouldn’t have been achieved without water supply and sewage disposal by Civil and Mechanical Engineers. So also, is the Lagos/Ibadan express way which is a handiwork of Civil Engineers and Electrical Engineers. Many people wouldn’t have been going on expensive cars like Volvo and Mercedes Benz without Mechanical Engineers. Therefore, one Engineering course is as good as the other.
It is left for you to choose any of the engineering courses you can pursue in a University or other institutions of higher learning. While choosing the subject that would lead you to any of these professions, I advise that one should chooses the subjects that are within one’s capabilities. For instance, it is a fruitless exercise for one to pursue a course like Biomedical and Genetic Engineering when one is weak in the basic tools which are mathematics and Physics. Furthermore, a career one chooses should lie within one’s area of interest. A high ability in a subject area does not automatically imply that such an area is of best interest for the person concerned. For instance, a student may be doing very well in Mathematics and Physics s but fairly well in Biology and Accounts. If his interest is to pursue Medicine or Accountancy, he should not hesitate in pursuing either of them because he might make a better Doctor or Accountant than if he were to become and Engineer.
In any case you have to look before you leap bearing in mind that where one’s mind inclines, more often than not become his destiny.
ENGR. H.O.Z. Ezema FNSE, FNICE, MANAGING DIRECTOR, ZEMAS AND PARTNER NIG LTD
CONSULTING CIVI/STRUCTURAL ENGINEERS, JOS NIGERIA
PRESENTED AT ST JOHN VIANEY MINOR SEMINARY BARKINLADI ON FRIDAY 10TH FRBRUARY 2023