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Professor Clement K. Sankat Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine, Trinidad, W.I. Engineering for Regional Development –The Engineering for the Americas Initiative. Civil Society Roundtable Meeting OAS Headquarters-Washington DC

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Professor Clement K. SankatPro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, The University of the West Indies (UWI) St. Augustine, Trinidad, W.I.

Engineering for Regional Development –The Engineering for the Americas Initiative

Civil Society Roundtable Meeting

OAS Headquarters-Washington DC

July 28th , 2008

“The difference between a developed, rich and prosperous country and an undeveloped, poor and wretched country is the difference in their levels of scientific, engineering and technological advancement. It is not progress in sports; it is not refinement in culture; neither the colour of skin; nor rhetoric or erudition in debate on the floor or the United Nations. It is simply Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) advancement. The G7 countries achieved their enviable status because they are the greatest SET nations in the world. They do not need to win medals in the Olympics or Arts Festivals. In the comite of nations, honour and respect go only to great Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) countries. That is the only parameter that classifies, distinguishes, honours or degrades. A nation neglects Science, Engineering and Technology at its own peril”

(Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, 1993)

The Faculty of Engineering,

UWI, St. Augustine.

engineering curricula in developing countries
Engineering Curricula in Developing Countries
  • A tendency for the curricula to be too academic and overloaded with intellectual content while being unrelated to practical realities existing in the particular developing country;
  • Use of engineering curricula that are overloaded with pure science and mathematics at the expense of basic engineering and technology.
  • Inadequate provision in the curricula for industrial exposure/industrial training of students.
  • Obsolete, broken-down or non-functioning equipment and ill-equipped laboratories.

(Mafe, WIJE 28(1): 1-12, 2006)

engineering curricula in developing countries1
Engineering Curricula in Developing Countries
  • Inadequate provision for the humanities, social sciences, business management concepts and entrepreneurial skills development in the curricula;
  • Lack of balance between depth and breath in the curricula; and
  • Lack of emphasis on engineering technologies in the curricula.
“It is obvious from the foregoing observations that the current corps of engineering and technical graduates from universities and polytechnics in

developing countries, however well-qualified in the academic sense, are not well-equipped or motivated to participate in their countries’ development through the creation of endogenous technologies and their subsequent development into small-scale industries.”

(Mafe, WIJE 28(1):1-12, 2006)

engineering education
Engineering Education

The emphasis has traditionally been on technical depth but now breadth of education is crucial to its effectiveness.

Basic Sciences and Mathematics

Engineering Sciences

Engineering Design and Manufacture, Applications

Complementary Subjects – Emphasis on Management and Social Sciences, Professional Ethics, Environmental Studies, Health & Safety etc.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Industry exposure and awareness

educating for creativity
What Professors should do

Tell students to be creative, that Engineering is about creativity and innovation, teach students creative methods, help them in this, challenge them to be creative and accept and reward students’ creative efforts.

Educating for Creativity

[Wankat and Oreovicz, 1993]

Rising Expectations of Professional Engineers
  • Additional emphasis on team/group working
  • An increase in the use of industrially-relevant applications of engineering analysis
  • An enhanced capability for independent learning and work
  • Case studies
  • Design work and projects
  • To have greater capacities for independent action
  • Accepting responsibilities
  • Formulating ideas proactively
  • Planning and developing strategies
  • Implementing and executing agreed plans
  • Leading and managing teams where required
  • Evaluating achievement against specification and plan, and decision making
  • Preparing students for subsequent leading roles in technical &/or managerial activities


OAS/USTDA:: Engineering for the AmericasNovember 29- 2 December, 2005Lima, Peru

“Capacity Building for Job Creation and Hemispheric Competitiveness”

Some thoughts from this symposium are presented

“Engineering for the Americas”

Build Local Engineering Capacity to create knowledge that ensures the solution of local needs and opens the chance to compete for global opportunities. Engineering excellence is a key ingredient in the application of science and technology to the solution of the world’s economic and social problems to achieve economic growth.

knowledge based economy
Knowledge-Based Economy

*The “knowledge-based economy” heralds an era in which

the importance of innovation and engineering has

surpassed that of capital. Participants saw knowledge

as the principal source of wealth and progress and

stressed that the quest for excellence in the training of

engineers, the establishment of national accreditation

systems, quality assurance, and mutual recognition were

becoming key factors for competing in the “knowledge-

based economy” or “flat world”, as writer Thomas

Friedman calls it.

*OAS Engineering for the Americas Symposium,

Lima, Peru – November 29 – December 2, 2005

The Engineer of the 21st Century

The notion of the Engineer of the 21st Century represents

a change of paradigm, whereby an engineer today must

help to create himself/herself, not look for work but create

it. They must be a world class engineers, leaders,

visionaries, and entrepreneurs, committed to the social

environment and with a clear sense of the common good.

Participants in the symposium emphasized the need to

boost collaboration between industry and academia.


*OAS Engineering for the Americas Symposium,

Lima, Peru – November 29 – December 2, 2005

Building World Class Engineers Through Standards and Accreditation

*The urgent need to start the process of establishing

standards and accreditation procedures for engineering

education throughout universities in Latin America and the

Caribbean, with the objective of providing the regions with

World class engineers; ready and qualified to participate

and execute engineering mega-projects in the region or

in today’s globalized arena.


*OAS Engineering for the Americas Symposium,

Lima, Peru – November 29 – December 2, 2005

engineering for the americas the objective
Engineering for the Americas “The Objective”
  • To promote economic and social development through quality engineering education for innovation and hemispheric collaboration in job creation; EftA seeks to develop and sustain a qualified pool of engineers that will work as an engine for industry competitiveness and actively anticipate, understand, and plan for a complex future in a globalized economy.
engineering for the americas recommendations for the oas
  • Higher education systems for Engineering in the Americas that are comparable and converge (eg: Bologna Agreement)
  • Continuously build the quality and reputation of Engineering Programs in the Americas
  • Build and strengthen National Accreditation Systems
  • Develop Regional Accreditation bodies that utilize global standards & best practices
  • Regional Accreditation bodies work towards being signatories of the Washington Accord
Clearly if the developing countries are not to persist in their economic backwardness, they must transform their economies from a primary, raw material exchange economy or a natural resource-based type to a production economy or a diversified technology based type. Technology is “perhaps the greatest of God’s gift as it offers to the poor of the Earth, a shortcut to wealth, a way of getting rich by cleverness rather than by back-breaking labour”.It is no surprise, therefore, that the Asian Tigers have recently treaded this path with considerable success, leading to prosperity and great improvements in the standard of living of their peoples.

(Okigbo, 1996)


If we are going to build a competitive region of the Americas, the Quality of our Engineering Education must be at global standards and hence, the initiative of the OAS- “Engineering For the Americas” must be vigorously supported by all our countries working in a networked and collaborative manner.