As partners, the SLIE and the Royal Academy of Engineers with support from other professional bodies, have just concluded a seven days training on entrepreneurship and Innovation for final year students at the Faculty of Engineering, Fourah Bay College in a sponsored project “Upgrading University Education in Sierra Leone.” The SLIE team was led by Ing. Georgette Greene and a team Lead for the Royal Academy of Engineers. The sole aim of the project was to ensure that the faculty regain it lost glory. Ing. Georgette Greene stated that, the SLIE which has won a bid for the second phase of the global challenge Research Fund African Catalyst Program is collaborating with the Royal Academy of Engineers, adding that the program is divided into five sections.
She said that part 1 deals with training graduates and students with soft skills, which prepares them for the industry. Parts 2 and 3 ensure that the University engineering education is accredited internationally, while Part 4 is to provide Continuous Professional Development for graduates and professional engineers, and part 5 is to encourage and foster Innovation in Engineering within the College. She said the one-week Entrepreneurship Program was part of part 5, and was the first stage in a two years’ project where students get trained to develop innovative skills.
She further added that, the project includes an innovation Hub which will be established at the university, knowing that ideas and projects which can be commercialized will be spotlighted at the end of the program. She said “The project is the first innovation program ever hosted by the University, and students were really impressed to receive such a package”.
The Dean of Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Fourah Bay College, Professor Dr. Kelleh Gbawuru Mansaray said the project Is timely as the idea was to transform the Faculty into an entrepreneur and by extension the University as a whole. He added that, graduates were finding it difficult to secure jobs, but through such skills gained in entrepreneurship, students would be able to setup their own businesses after graduation. He further added that, the faculty is trying to add a new curriculum regardless of discipline. He encouraged students to make use of the opportunity and knowledge gained during the one-week exercise.
The Director of Innovation Action Dr. Peter Fearon, also a member of staff at the University of Brighton, UK stated that, the training would encourage students to think more creatively and business-like in their approach to engineering. He said the project aims to educate students as well as build their capacity and package ideas that would be attractive to investors and employers.
N’Delei Sam Year 5 student of the Engineering Faculty commended the facilitators for contributing to their knowledge in entrepreneurial skills and stated that “skills acquired during the one-week training will help greatly in securing my own business.” Another student Kosi Sesay said the training had broadened his skills in the area of entrepreneurship, adding that the group work has opened his eyes to practical skills and how to develop proposals that would gain funding. At the end of the training over 80 students were awarded certificates by the facilitators and the Dean of the Engineering Faculty Fourah Bay College.