Generous donors bring dream of “Engineering a New Africa” closer to reality
More than just a new building for Ashesi, this is a milestone for Africa–a step towards bringing Ashesi’s hallmarks of innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship to engineering education in Africa.
Ashesi, on the 22nd of November, celebrated a short groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction work for the university’s new engineering block.The ceremony marks another milestone in the growth and expansion of the Ashesi community and for the people of the Akuapim Traditional Area. Over a 100 guests were present to celebrate the ceremony, with guests of honour including Mrs. Eunice Britwum CEO of CENIT Energy, Mrs. Carlien Bou-Chedid, former President of Women in Engineering Ghana (WINE-GH) and Nananom of the Akuapim Traditional Area.
Ashesi’s new engineering building will house classrooms and labs designed for in-depth, hands on learning in electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, product design and physics. Uniting traditional design by local architects, world class technology, and environmental best practices, the new engineering building will complement the existing architecture of Ashesi’s hilltop campus.
“I think that engineers are extremely important in the world,” said Patrick Awuah, President of Ashesi. “The 1% of people that do engineering, really build the world for the 99% that don’t do engineering. What we hope to do with our engineering programme at Ashesi, beyond educating engineers who understand how to apply laws of physics, is to train engineers who will also think about the viability and desirability of the things they build.”
“One of the things we also hope to do, is invite more women to be a part of the 1% that build the world,” Dr. Awuah added. “Our goal is to have 50% of our engineering graduates being women. I am asking all the women present here to join us in convincing the young women of the country and this continent, to see engineering as something they can be a part of.”
The new engineering block, made possible by donations to a global capital campaign that is three-quarters complete, will allow Ashesi to grow its enrollment once it is complete. With an emphasis on design, problem solving and entrepreneurship, Ashesi’s new major, starting in 2015, will help redefine engineering education in Africa and drive the important innovations that Africa needs.
“I always hear of repairs to our nation’s facilities being delayed because Ghana has to bring in expertise from overseas to fix the problem,” said Student Council President Michael Quansah ’14. “This is not because we don’t have engineers in Ghana, but it’s because our education systems do not prepare them well enough to tackle these problems. The delivery of quality education, that can be immediately applied to solve the problems we face, is needed. To borrow from the words of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, we believe the African is capable of managing his own affairs, and we want to awaken the ghosts of these words. We are ready to re-engineer a new Africa.”
Speaking on behalf of faculty at Ashesi, Dr. Ayorkor Korsah, Assistant Computer Science Professor, also touched on the importance of engineering to the world and shared ten reasons why engineering was a fun career for any young person to consider. “To be an engineer is to be a creator, and it impacts a lot of people when you are the creator of the technology that powers our lives,” said Dr. Ayorkor Korsah. “Each and everyone of us has to play an active role in encouraging the young people around us to go into engineering and consider it as a profession.”
Mrs. Bou-Chedid also touched on the different reasons why it was important to have more women in engineering, and the ways in which everyone could help make this possible. “It starts right from the beginning,” she said. “What do we teach our women when they are children? What kinds of toys do we give them to play with? If we are going to be able to get more women engaging careers like engineering, then we need to have them develop that problem-solving activity right from infancy.”
The Chief of Berekuso, Odeefoo Oteng Korankye II, also welcomed Ashesi’s move into engineering. He explained that it was his hope that Ashesi’s engineering students would help the town of Berekuso solve some of its more challenging structural problems, and help expand Berekuso’s business capacity.
“I congratulate Ashesi on this significant milestone,” said Mrs. Eunice Britwum, CEO of CENIT Energy. “We certainly have challenges in Africa, and that is why institutions like Ashesi are necessary. Today, Ashesi’s is taking steps to help us realise a new Africa that is based on engineering. The locally educated, creative and ethical engineers that Ashesi aims to create, will help develop the pragmatic and innovative solutions that Africa needs.”
In our first decade, Ashesi University has established a track record of empowering young Africans with the motivation and the skills to address Africa’s challenges. We foster ethics, innovation and entrepreneurship in a diverse, pan-African student body. 100% of Ashesi graduates find quality placement, and 95% stay in Africa. They launch new ventures, develop innovative and pragmatic solutions to local needs, and help grow Africa’s private sector.
By pioneering a new engineering curriculum for Africa that emphasizes design, problem solving, and entrepreneurship, Ashesi’s engineering graduates will gain the leadership skills to develop local enterprises, NGOs, and their own ventures.