To provide practical solutions to emerging issues, practicing engineers have called for a review of chemical engineering curriculum in Nigerian universities.
They said the curriculum of most chemical engineering schools are inadequate and inappropriate to overcome challenges of infrastructure, ecological and social-economic realities.
According to them, the review must cater for environmental sustainability, promote students’ industrial training, increase practitioners’ contact with the society, development and have strong element of versatility.
The experts spoke at the first Mini-Conference and Workshop on Chemical Engineering Education and Research, entitled: ‘Chemical Engineering Innovations and Practical Solutions’ organised by the Nigerian Society of Chemical Engineers, (NSChE), held virtually.
The conference brought together various scholars who shared their experience on chemical engineering, Nigeria and the changing society, nanotechnology: prospects and applications in chemical engineering, investment and technology transfer opportunity from Germany/European Union in agri-business circular economy and renewable energy sectors.
Leading the call, the lead paper presenter, Dr. John Erinne, an engineer, explained that efforts must be made for improved chemical engineering curriculum in the nation’s universities, which will enable the production of chemical engineers, who are well equipped to meet the needs of the future.
Speaking on, ‘Chemical engineering and the changing society, Erinne said adoption of such new curriculum and other measures would help train and prepare young engineers for challenges.
Some of the changes, he canvassed include, adequate resourcing in terms of facility and infrastructure and faculty, control class sizes of not more than 50 students, admission requirements and reformed Students Industrial Work Experiences (SIWES) programme.
Erinne, who is the managing consultant, CHEX and Associates, also harped on sustainability, safety and environmental protection, economics management, entrepreneurship, other soft skills, process, plant and product designs to be included in the new curriculum.
The Education & Research Sectoral Group Coordinator, NSChE, Dr. Ibrahim Muritala, said the forum became important to open discussion, knowledge sharing, collaboration and advancement of chemical engineering education and research to enhance the provision of practical solutions to emerging issues such as future of learning and education, taking research from the lab to the market, improvement of skill gaps, solving global and national crises through chemical engineering approaches.
Speaking on ‘Nanotechnology: Prospects and Applications in Chemical Engineering’, the Head, Chemical Engineering Department, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Prof. Micheal Daramola said, within the framework of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there are responsible resource for production and consumption, which are in a way preserves ecological footprint to meet the needs of the growing population, while minimising the pressure on the planet would be great challenge for chemical engineers.
He said application of nanotechnology in chemical engineering would innovate the field, as a channel to providing solutions to the present societal problems.
However, he disclosed that understanding and applying nanotechnology requires learning the concepts; applying the learned concepts; teaching the learned concepts in engineering education and creating knowledge and developing human capacity in nanotechnology through research and innovation.
Earlier, the NSChE National President, Saidu Mohammed, represented by the National Deputy President, Anthony Ogbuigwe, said that technology keeps changing the world as a driver for development and innovation adding that technology is key to survival of any nation. He noted the importance of training young chemical engineers along that line.