The Federal University of Technology (FUT), Minna has identified non-inclusion of foundational mechatronics subjects in the educational curriculum at all levels as one of the challenges facing innovative and creative thinking among Nigerians.
This, according to the university, is evident in the fact that almost every task is done manually within the country. It believes system automation is an integral part of the development of any nation. In a bid to bridge this gap, the university created a new School (faculty) of Information and Communication Technology (SICT).
The Acting Dean of the School, Dr Elizabeth N. Onwuka, speaking in a telephone interview with Sunday Vanguard, echoed the thinking of FUT Minna, emphasizing that teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics using traditional classroom approaches makes young Nigerians lose interests in these fields at the early age of schooling.
Onwuka, an Associate Professor in the Department of Telecommunications Engineering Department in FUT, said the non-inclusion of this strategic field of study at the pre-nursery, nursery, primary and secondary levels has deprived Nigeria the opportunity to develop her top talents at a very tender age.
This educational lopsidedness, she stated, continues to manifest in non-availability of top talents needed for the most desired technological transformation of the country despite her abundant human resources.
Onwuka disclosed that in order to tackle this technological challenge, SICT has begun the development of artificial intelligence-based mechatronics engineering system in Nigeria. To achieve this, brilliant Nigerian experts in mechatronics (Prof M.J.E. Salami and Dr Abiodun M. Aibinu), lecturing abroad, have been attracted to join FUT Minna and establish a department of mechatonic engineering.
“Presently, the university is organizing a maiden edition of Nigeria Robotics Championship (NIROC), which is aimed at introducing innovation and creativity in artificial intelligence, mechatronics engineering, and robotics, all of which drive automation, to all spheres of life in Nigeria”, Onwuka said.
“The championship is expected to build a network of top talents; facilitate the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics with fun using affordable and locally developed intelligent mechatronic engineering systems; improve intuitiveness; and imbibe research culture in all the educational tiers in the country”.
According to her, championship will be held later this year at FUT Minna. The championship, among other things, will boost the country’s transformation agenda in the area of artificial intelligence, mechatronics and robotic system development.
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