No fewer than 250 participants drawn from states across Nigeria, as well as Cameroun, Liberia, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Senegal, The Gambia and the United States of America, recently converged on the Pan African Materials Institute (PAMI), at the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, for the Maths and Science for sub-Saharan Africa (MS4SSA) and the Pan African School for Materials (PASMAT IV) workshops.
A collaboration between AUST’s PAMI, the Mathematics Institute and the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative, MS4SSA and PASMAT IV were held at the University’s AfDB Laboratory between 10-15 July and 17-21 July, 2017 respectively. The MS4SSA workshop followed an induction programme recently held in Worcester, Massachusetts (USA), to lay the ground for the coordination of the sub-Saharan initiative.
MS4SSA is critical to the success of the World Bank’s support for Africa’s development through PAMI and in the Partnership for Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (PASET), two initiatives that focus on producing a critical mass of PhDs to tackle the pervasive and severe shortage of qualified faculty in Africa’s universities.
Professors Oye Ibidapo-Obe, AUST Board Member; Wole Soboyejo and Paula Quinn of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, MA, presented papers on approaches to curriculum development, while Professor Robert Goodman of the New Jersey Centre for Teaching and Learning talked about teaching and learning: The USA Experience.
There were discussions on approaches to assessments, Science, Engineering, Robotics education, social constructivist classroom environment as well as Introduction to Materials Science and project-based learning modules, jointly presented by Quinn, Soboyejo and Goodman.
PASMAT IV, on the other hand, was the bi-annual outreach programme of PAMI, with the theme, ‘Materials for African Development’. This activity traditionally engages in cumulative training on key concepts of Materials Science and Engineering, primarily aimed at improving regional capacity to process and utilise Africa’s abundant mineral material and human resources for development.
The project brought together an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary group of professionals, including Physicists, Chemists, Engineers, Biologists and medical practitioners. Resource persons included, Professors Mohammed Dauda from the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Abuja; Professor Soboyejo from WPI, Professor Holmer Savastano, Dr. Said Ameen and Dr. Omololu Akin-Ojo, Centre Leader, PAMI, who applied systems-based interdisciplinary approaches to tackle identified African problems of power supply, materials for drug delivery, infrastructure, materials, among others.
Hands-on activities included novel drug-delivery systems fabrication, nano-particle syntheses, organic solar cell fabrication and deployment, novel water purification systems fabrication and testing, as well as robotics, which were put together by the PAMI Focused Research Groups (FRGs). The proceedings of the workshops are soon to be published in an international peer-review journal.
Prof. Muhammed Dauda