By Femi Babatunde
Last week, the pioneer students of Nigeria’s premier technical university, First Technical University, Ibadan, made history. They completed their year one examination and so, officially ended their first academic session at the nascent university. Upon its completion, expectedly, the students straddled the expansive campus joyously, chanting and cheering one another for the historic feat. Well, the students’ excitement is certainly not misplaced, for their beloved Tech-U has indeed, within just its first academic session, proved skeptics wrong and has courageously trod on an uncharted path with a bagful of sheaves dotting it.
To put it in context, when the University made its entry into the increasingly saturated tertiary education space last year, only very few saw hope in the horizon. Their concern, albeit genuinely, was predicated on the fact that, with the perennial questions of funding and quality bedeviling public universities in Nigeria today, the University was dead on arrival. Alas, that concern has turned out unfounded.
Running with a vision of a world-class institution fully grounded in entrepreneurial practices, unique innovation, sustainability science and international best practices, Tech-U prides itself for an exceptional learning model of blended theoretical knowledge and practical skills imparted by a mix of first-rate scholars and experienced industry hands. Through the deployment of the principles of Science, Engineering, Technology, Research and Innovation (SETRI) for societal transformation, Tech-U is steadfast in its pursuit of effectively combating the saddening scourge of youth unemployment in Nigeria.
Sited in Ibadan, West Africa’s largest city, reputed for its many firsts in Africa, the First Technical University campus, located along the Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, spreads on an expanse of 200 hectares of well-endowed land mass. The campus, inserted in the fledging Free Trade Zone Area of Ibadan projected to house a consortium of industries, is an excellent fit for any worthwhile academic adventure. Apart from its state-of-the-art facilities, the pastoral but absolutely enchanting ambience of the campus supports learning and research in a way that rivals the tranquility obtainable in any leading technology and innovation hub across the world. The lure of Tech-U is radical education that births world-class thinkers and doers with abiding innovation and development-oriented bent.
A peep into the achievements of the University in the last one year is, to say the least, very comforting. To begin with, the quality of reception that has trailed the entry of the University from the organized private sector has been largely gratifying. This is because for too long, universities in Nigeria have failed to nurture their products in a way that readily makes them industry-ready needs; hence, the skills-gap crisis in the country. Of course, with its mission of nurturing industrious and market-ready graduates, Tech-U deserves the increasing acclaim and partnerships it is currently enjoying. For aside its promise of fully industry-integrated education, the University offers training in unique areas of cyber security, mechatronics engineering, software engineering, biomedical engineering, among others. All with a focused goal of producing the sort of relevant manpower that can practically advance the course of national development.
Earlier in the year, as a way of deepening linkage between the town and gown, the University hosted stakeholders from leading brands and groups such as the Nigerian Employers Consultative Council (NECA), Council for the Regulation of Engineering (COREN), the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and several others for a curriculum review summit. The gathering proved very successful, as it afforded the stakeholders to offer informed perspectives to shape the institution’s curriculum framework. Therefore, we are invited to look forward to the future with much excitement as Tech-U leads the way for more enduring universities/industry partnerships.
Realizing the urgency of the global knowledge economy, Tech-U has broadened its staff structure to include topflight scholars from Europe and America. Aside the immediate impact of this laudable move on the quality of learning at the University, it has significantly enhanced the prevalent institutional research architecture and visibility. Similarly, the University enjoys a virile partnership with the Texas Technical University; Lubbock, United States of America. This certainly is a master stroke. With this Texas Tech, reputed to be among the top-three of the best universities in the global current webometric ranking, provides mentorship for Tech-U and also facilitates exchange programmes between staff and students of both universities.
It is worth noting that Tech-U has also raised the bar in students funding. This is a scholarship bank worth over N700 million. The endowment comes from industry donors to support indigent but brilliant students unable to afford the sort of qualitative education offered by the University. Undoubtedly a very laudable scheme, it has brought to fruition the dreams of many underprivileged deprived students.
Tech-U students are carefully baked with the goal of making them globally competitive in science, technology and innovation. As such, they are trained from the beginning to acquire competencies in French, in addition to at least two vocational skills relevant to their disciplines. It is exciting to report that the efforts being made to enable students acquire hands-one business development skills are already yield bounteous fruits. One of such notable efforts, a week-long business start-up immersion programme, facilitated by the Abuja-based Ventures Platform, provided students with a seed capital of over N1.5 million. The testimony of Precious Omodunbi, an agricultural engineering student in at Tech-U is instructive: “Learning at the First Technical University is a great and awesome experience that involves the developing of minds and the training of hands. Tech-U students are trained to be responsible future leaders, creative inventors, innovators and ingenious entrepreneurs. I must say that Tech-U has got a conducive environment for learning, with attendant 21st century learning facilities available to make learning absolutely exciting”.
The National University Commission (NUC), much like other regulatory bodies, deserves much gravitas for not only identifying with the University, but for also nudging her on the path of enduring success. In this connection, also, the news of Tech-U’s enlistment as a Tetfund beneficiary is welcomed as a step in the right direction. This is because, owing to its radical model, a handsome Tetfund grant would lend the much needed fillip for focused and creative infrastructural drive.
It remains to be said that the Tech-U management, led by Professor Ayobami Salami, a distinguished professor of space application, has given an impressive account of itself. Perhaps, we should not expect anything less, considering the star-studded team of managers behind the vision. These include: the Chancellor, a renowned oil magnate and Chairman of AMNI international Development Petroleum; Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Professor Oyewusi Ibidapo-Obe, who is a distinguished university administration and former Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, leads a vibrant Council that includes such industry bigwigs as Mrs. Ibukun Awosika, Chairman, First Bank Plc.; Professor Tunji Olaopa, accomplished public administration scholar; Mr. Jacob Ajekiigbe, notable entrepreneur and former managing director of First Bank Plc.; Mr. Doye Ayoola, foremost industrialist, and host of other leading industry minds.
*Babatunde works as the Public Relations Officer, First Technical University. You can reach him via: firstname.lastname@example.org