Good Governance Structure for Strengthening Engineering Education

by Chux Onaa

Interaction with Chukwuemeka Onaa

Chukwuemeka Onaa is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Petroleum Drilling and Fluid Mining, TU Bergakademie Freiberg (TUBaF). He also obtained his M.Sc. degree from TUBaF. As a researcher with an international background, Mr. Onaa have actively engaged in actions that strengthened the internationalization agenda of TU Bergakademie Freiberg, at high levels. A typical example, among others, was the initiation and establishment of the bi-institutional partnership between the Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Nigeria and TUBaF. Mr. Onaa has continued to dispense visionary leadership demonstrated in his efforts at fostering social cohesion among international students as well as peaceful coexistence between the African community in Freiberg and the wider German society. With a sincere commitment towards service to God, humanity and society, Mr. Onaa had served as the President of the Network of Africans Freiberg (NAF); Founding President of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), TUBaF students’ chapter; and an elected member of the 4th-PhD council (ProRat) of TUBaF.

What project idea did you generate or nurture during your time in EMPOWER program?

My Project is called:

Good Governance Structure for Strenghtening Engineering Education at the Alex-Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike (AE-FUNAI), Ikwo, Ebonyi State.

The Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu-Alike lkwo (AE-FUNAI), Nigeria, is a young but fast-growing federal university. Unfortunately, statutory funding, by the federal government, is highly insufficient in propelling the ambitious university towards the realization of their academic goals. Recently, the petroleum engineering department was closed due largely to poor funding, and lack of relevant study infrastructures. This situation has significant ramifications particularly, on the quality of education being offered at the university. ln her aspiration to position itself as a center for academic excellence, the university is desirous of developing a state-of-the-art engineering syllabus. However, the faculty of engineering and technology at AE-FUNAI is ill-equipped and the academic staff require further training. To fully and effectively realize their educational aspirations, staff training programs, capacity development, and machinery parts are urgently needed for teaching purposes.

As a young and vibrant university, AE-FUNAI require urgent support in order to strengthen its academic and administrative structures. In lieu of the above problem, I initiated the project to contribute my efforts in bridging the gap. Subsequently, I searched, found, applied, and secured funding for the Project from the ERASMUS+ Mobility: 01.08.2020 – 31.07.2023.

 What lasting memories do you associate with your time in EMPOWER program?

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that EMPOWER, being the first structured entrepreneurship program targeting international researchers at TU Bergakademie, emerged as a platform for innovation incubation. It helped to galvanise talents from various scientific and social background. As a member of the cohort, I learnt, unlearnt, and relearnt form the facilitators but most importantly, from my colleagues. My unforgettable moments includes those that I had the opportunity of cohorting, and co-learning while executing tasks in small groups.

What is the current status of your EMPOWER project?

My project has evolved through a timeline shown in Fig.1 while the a photo of a project meeting during I announced that a complete funding was secured for the implementation of the project is presented in Fig.2.

Fig.2. Photo taken during a virtual project meeting held in July, 2020

What is the next phase of your project?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, short-term mobility is put on hold with respect to German visa policy. Therefore, preparations are being made to mobilize PhD researchers and students who will spend about 6 months or a semester.

What internal and external contacts did you build throughout your time in EMPOWER program?

In the course of the project execution, I made contacts both internally and externally. In addition to contacts to management of the AE-FUNAI, I have made contact within organisations that were coopted as institutional partners in Germany.

What is your motivation for joining this EMPOWER Project?

I was motivated to foin the EMPOWER program because it offered a platform to further improve myself and to better articulate my vision towards effectively make impact in the society.

What is your life motto?

My motto is to make indelible marks and to leave positive footprints on the sand of time.

Which elements of EMPOWER training do you find most helpful?

The element of EMPOWER that I found most helpful is the break-out sessions that we had to complete tasks in small groups.