Nigeria still ranks low on sustainable development indices – UNN VC

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By Emmanuel Uzodinma

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, UNN, Prof Charles Igwe has lamented that Nigeria has not addressed issues of security, poverty, illiteracy and number of out-of-school children despite the pool of professionals both at home and in the Diaspora.

The Vice Chancellor urged the academia and captains of industries to collaborate in order to find lasting solutions to these issues challenging the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, in the country.

He made the call weekend during his address at the 3rd international conference of the Faculty of Engineering, UNN, tagged ‘Sustainable Engineering and Industrial Technology.’

He said the conference was conceptualized to bridge the gap between the academia and industry in Nigeria to enable them galvanize their strengths towards addressing societal problems.

“As we all know, Nigeria has one of the highest pool of skilled professionals in Diaspora, after China and India. Unfortunately, this has not translated into meaningful economic development, as our country still scores very poor grades in most indices of sustainable development such as hunger, poverty, number of out of children/illiteracy, power generation, unemployment etc. The organizers intend to start correcting this anomaly through this event,” he said.

In his welcome address, the Dean, Faculty of Engineering, UNN, Prof Emenike Ejiogu said the international conference was organized in response to the ever increasing need to galvanize international scholars to deliberate on the issues of human development and sustainability.

Ejiogu, who is also the Director, Africa Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Power and Energy Development, ACE-SPED, said that cross-fertilization of ideas between the academia and captains of industries would bridge the undesirable gap between the town and gown.

He also said that the sustainable interaction between institutions and Industries was a requirement for the contemporary and innovative outcome-based education practiced worldwide and being proposed by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN.

“United Nations have been trying to champion sustainable development and they have what they called Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, which refers to our ability to deploy technology in such a way that would not harm the environment. That environment include human, animals and plants.

“As the first Faculty of Engineering in Nigeria, we initiated series of conferences which we do every two years and we called it Sustainable Engineering and Industrial Technology Conference, SEITC. The aim is to promote technologies in all form of it; it can be agriculture, engineering, water, environment to name but a few.

“The technology should reflect the measure of sustainability , that is, it must be environmentally friendly and economic viable.
“This international conference is the third in the series and we have invited speakers from all over the world and the Nigerians in the Diaspora,” he said.

In his paper presentation titled ‘Leveraging Twin Technology, System Engineering, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Delivering Sustainable Energy Solutions,’ the Executive Director of Peprime Limited and a member of Royal Academy of Engineering, United Kingdom, Prof. Paul Eke, said that Digital Twin, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence could be deployed to achieve sustainable engineering solutions.

Eke, a Professor of Digital Twin Technology and System Engineering, further explained that Digital Twin could be used to replicate products, concepts and services to solve problems in the society.

He further said that Digital Twin is the virtual representation of an entity using the sensors embedded in the physical asset to provide solutions.

“Digital Twin is a proven technology which can be applied in every form of life, though, it is new the way it is packaged. It is changing the way engineering is taught and applied all over the world.

“This is the 4th Industrial Revolution and Digital Twin can be applied everywhere. Because Nigeria is struggling in every facet of our life, embedding this technology in how we teach and apply engineering can change a lot of things in this country.

“The technology is not expensive because it can be embedded into existing engineering technologies to make them compliant with Internet of Things,” he explained.

In his keynote presentation, titled ‘Assessment and Characterisation of Standing and Sitting Stability of Human Body: Control System Modelling, Instrument and Clinical Applications,’ an Associate Professor of Neuromuscular Control and Biomechanics, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Canada, Hossein Rouhani, explained how engineering tools could be used to rehabilitate patients with spinal cord injuries.

Rouhani equally explained seven models geared towards educating the participants on the ideal sitting and standing positions which would not affect the spinal cord.

In a chat with jouen, the chairman of the occasion, Dr. Bonaventure Okere, said that sustainable engineering aims to address various kinds of human needs using modernized systems.

Okere, who is also the Director, Centre for Basic Space and Astronomy, urged the National Universities Commission, NUC, to key into sustainable engineering by including the courses into engineering programmes in the university system.

The highlight of the conference was project exhibitions by the Faculty of Engineering, UNN, where researchers demonstrated the prototypes of their works ranging from the Refuse-derived Fuel gasification system; automatic zobo drink processing machine; innovative electronics, power devices, new energy systems, among others.

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