The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to increase funding for space science and education to move Nigeria to first world technology.
Dr Musiliu Agoro, NSE Chairman in Lagos State, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a practical robotics training for secondary school students on Sunday in Lagos.
He said that the Asian Tigers made rapid technological advancements towards their industrialisation because they embraced artificial intelligence and robbotics.
Agoro told NAN that there was need to increase funding for science education and create deliberate policies to change orientation of students towards technology driven courses.
According to him, artificial intelligence and robotics are interwoven and there is need to explore their advantages for Nigeria’s rapid industrialisation.
“If we can embrace artificial intelligence significantly and robotics in Nigeria, it will help us to leap from third world country that we are being classified to probably first world.
“And that is what has helped Singapore; we were virtually at the same level with them in 1960 when we had our independence but they have leveraged more on artificial intelligence and robotics, including China too, and they are now being regarded as first world countries.
“So, if Nigerian government can encourage the citizens to embrace artificial intelligence and robotics, it will lead to significant development in the country and eradicate all these issues of kidnappings because people will now be productively engaged, our younger ones will no longer resort to crime to make ends meet.
“My candid advice to the Buhari administration is to create conducive environment for our younger ones to pursue career paths in engineering technology because now there is high unemployment rate and a lot of companies are leaving Nigeria.
“But if the government of Buhari can fund education by United Nations standard that at any point in time 26 per cent of the national budget goes to education, it will go a long way to reduce all social ills in Nigeria currently,” he said.
He said that the training was part of NSE mandate to expose young children to robotics, artificial intelligence and basic engineering.
“The world today is knowledge driven and developed countries that are making global waves make their citizens focus more on technology based courses like aeronautical engineering, artificial intelligence, cyberspace, robotics etc.
“Most of our own younger citizens here tend to want to go to social based courses or humanities and the arts. So, we want them to have a rethink by organising the workshop to rekindle their interest to pursue career paths in any of the engineering fields.
“We want to make sure that we have capable hands to take over from us as engineers to replace us in future so we want to impress on them the need to develop their communication skills and learn to work as a team,” he said.
The program was organised by the NSE in collaboration with Airbus Foundation, The Little Engineer (TLE) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) STEM METS for 10 secondary schools in Lagos.
NAN reports that Mr Simeon Ozota, Facilitator for STEM METS, told the children that “anything that flies, Airbus build”, adding that the firm builds planes, helicopters, space ships and at the verge of completing the first air car.
“Space is anything outside earth, when we leave earth, that empty space, that black galaxy is what we call space,” he told the students,” the facilitator said.
The participants were also taken through various practical sessions on how to build physical machines and then use computer programs and calculations to make the devices perform required tasks.
“For every speed, there must be a time,” Ozota said.
Mrs Temitope Balogun, another STEM METS facilitator, told NAN that the firm was collaborating with Airbus Foundation to lead students on discovery-based learning to broaden their interest in science and technology through robotics and aerospace.
She added that it would equip and prepare the future generation on needed talent to encourage them to understand and embrace technology, and ignite passion that could grow into career paths in engineering.
“What we are doing is a social enterprise that trains children in 21st century skills using fine motor skills, collaboration, critical thinking etc,” she told NAN.
Some of the students who spoke to NAN expressed joy at being able to use computer programs to make the inventions move and carry out specific tasks. (NAN)