Imperial helping develop next generation Sierra Leonean engineers

Stephen Johns: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 November 2018:

Imperial academics are working with partners in Sierra Leone to develop a generation of skilled engineers.

Researchers are collaborating with the University of Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Institute of Engineers to help expand and improve engineering courses in the country.

The hope is that this will enable industries, such as mining, in Sierra Leone to use local engineers rather than recruiting heavily from overseas.

Last week, academics from Sierra Leone visited Imperial to see its facilities and learn about the content and structure of its engineering courses.

(Photo: Engineers from Sierra Leone visited Dr Kristel Fobelets’s electrical engineering lab).

The visit was hosted by Professor Mike Lowe, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Mike Templeton, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and Dr Kristel Fobelets, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The three year project, led by the charity Engineers for Change – Sierra Leone (EfCSL), is supported by the Global Challenges Research Fund Africa Catalyst which is managed by the Royal Academy of Engineering

Imperial’s Professor Mike Lowe said: “This exciting project aims to help develop and train the next generation of engineers in Sierra Leone.

“Mining and engineering make up a large part of the country’s economy but there is a skills shortage locally.

“We are working with partners in Sierra Leone to raise the standards of engineering courses in the country to enable talented students to reach their full potential.”

Sahr Nyalloma, Head of Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sierra Leone said: “I must confess that it was a very good and eye-opening experience.

“The host were very accommodating and did everything possible to give us the necessary exposure.

“They even pledged to let the engagement continue even after this visit for the mutual benefit of our institutions and nations at large.”

Mr Nyalloma was joined on the visit by Obafemi Beresford Davies, Head of Civil Engineering Department, Fourah Bay College, and Professor Jonas Redwood-Sawyerr, Professor of the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Obafemi Beresford Davies said: “It was by no means a mistake to partner with Imperial College London for this project.

“Our observation of classroom etiquette and facilities available for students learning at the College was second to none. The decision was right in selecting Imperial and for us to emulate best engineering education practice from our Imperial partners.”

Earlier in the week Dr Templeton spoke at the Sierra Leone Innovation Event, held at the Royal Academy of Engineering, where he explained the critical role that in-country engineers will need to play for nations like Sierra Leone to be able to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, such as achieving safe and sustainable access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.

African collaborations

The hope is that this will enable industries, such as mining, in Sierra Leone to use local engineers rather than recruiting heavily from overseas.

The new partnership strengthens Imperial’s growing links and collaborations with the continent.

Vice President (International) Maggie Dallman recently wrote in Times Higher Education that ‘forward thinking institutions are looking to collaborate in new markets such as Africa’.

Earlier this year Imperial launched a seed fund with MIT to find a partner institution in Africa.

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