By Danusa Ocholi
Those who are close to Engr. Kashim A.Ali, President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN, describe him as a consummate engineer who carries out his responsibilities with diligence as well as with painstaking attention for details. These and some other qualities the committed social worker who holds the traditional titles of Olimene Ata-Igala and Galadima of Ankpa has been able to bring to bear since his election as the COREN President in 2013, where he is already serving in his second term. Engr. Ali is indeed into his second term as COREN president which will last another three years. Described as a rare breed, the Kogi state-born engineer is a Fellow and past President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers. He was also the President of the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria as well as partner of Impact Engineering Ltd, a consultancy based engineering firm which is into civil, water resources and project management.
Engr. Ali said that he will remain eternally grateful to his fellow engineers for the privilege given to him to oversee their affairs in the apex governing body of engineering and engineers in the country. Engr. Ali said his election “is an expression of confidence in me by my colleagues and also because colleagues felt that it would be best I complete a project that was started shortly after I came into in the first time. The project is still on and will be rounded up next year. The third reason is probably by providence.”
He said what motivated him to vie for the position was his desire to market engineering in the country. Engr. Ali’s commitment towards putting Nigeria among the league of the leading engineering countries in the world cannot be overstressed. The Engr. Ali-led COREN has been deploying innovative approaches, towards repositioning engineering in the country for sustainable development.
“One area I focused on was how to market the engineering personnel in Nigeria. I didn’t think we were as bad as some people painted us. I wanted to disprove that notion and prove that we are good.” Desirous of raising the profile of engineering education in Nigeria, COREN under his leadership took up the challenge of benchmarking Nigerian engineering qualifications against those of nations with high international standards.
Towards concretising his position on this, he called for the “assemblage of all the deans of the faculty of engineering in Nigerian universities to look at the curricula and compared them with what were obtainable internationally.
He added: “We held a workshop where we looked at the curricula and compared them with what are obtainable internationally. We saw areas we needed to upgrade and did so, subjected it to international review. We got UNESCO to be part of the review, and the result was that it was at par with any standard engineering curricula in the world in terms of faculty members, facilities in the workshop, and laboratories. We also discovered something that wasn’t sync with the engineering practice and that is the fact that a child is taught in school, the child regurgitates what has been taught in exam, the child makes a first class, but ends up being confused when faced with the practical aspect of the profession. How to convert knowledge was not well taught in schools. Our best practice now is to have engineering education output based.
“That is, a young person coming into the university must understand ahead of time, the reason for opting to study engineering, deciding the field of engineering to focus on and to essentially understand the reason for choosing that field. The whole essence is that by the time the person is out of the university, this will help him/her shape up his/her taught on what to really do, and the way to get that there.