Challenges and opportunities in developing STEM curricula for tertiary institutions in Africa: Materials science and engineering at AUST-Abuja

Kwadwo Osseo-Asare, Victor A. Atiemo-Obeng

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Recent high GDP growth rates and increasing foreign investment in several African countries suggest an economic development “take-off”. In recognition of this situation as well as the need to add value to the abundant natural resources, both governments and private entrepreneurs are investing in tertiary institutions in Africa focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to provide the needed highly trained personnel to support and sustain economic development and growth. The core competencies and behaviors to be cultivated in these institutions are what STEM educators worldwide deem crucial for economic competitiveness and job creation. These include, according to the US National Academies Report, The Engineer of 2020-Visions of Engineering in the New Century ( oral and written communications, critical thinking, analytical and innovative problem solving, practical ingenuity, creativity, agility, team work, and an appreciation for life-long learning. This presentation highlights the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), a private, pan-African, coeducational university located in Abuja, Nigeria. Its mission is to “advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the African continent in the 21st century”. Starting in 2008, graduate programs at the master's level have been offered in Computer Science and Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Theoretical and Applied Physics, and Pure and Applied Mathematics. We discuss in particular opportunities for innovative ideas for the Material Science and Engineering curriculum. The desire is to ensure a well-rounded grounding of the students not only in the physical aspects of Materials Science but also the chemical aspects. A further intent is to inspire the students to make things by providing them with engineering tools and skills to apply their scientific knowledge of materials. We also discuss several challenges, including the backgrounds of the students, availability of faculty, the logistics of the number of courses, and the duration of each. In conclusion we contend that, despite severe challenges for tertiary institutions in Africa, it is important to make the most of opportunities to explore and adopt innovative curricula to achieve stated academic and national objectives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Jun 22 2013
Event2013 ASEE International Forum - Atlanta, United States
Duration: Jun 22 2013 → …


Conference2013 ASEE International Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Period6/22/13 → …

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)
  • Education


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