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Academics from Imperial College London visit the University of Sierra Leone

Press Release

A team of academics from Imperial College London visited the engineering faculty of the University of Sierra Leone from 19th – 22nd February with the objective of providing support to the faculty as it prepares for an academic accreditation assessment with UK engineering professional institutions.

The team from Imperial College (IC) included Professor Mike Lowe (Mechanical Engineering), Dr Kristel Fobelets (Electrical and Electronics Engineering), Dr Mike Templeton (Civil Engineering) and Dr Esther Kamau (International Relations).

This initiative is part of the Africa Catalyst Phase 2 (ACP2) programme which is funded by the Global Challenge Research Fund and supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The ACP2 project is in its second year and is led by the Sierra Leone Institution of Engineers. Partners in the project are Engineers for Change (Sierra Leone), Academic Experts from Imperial College London, Innovation Action and the University of Sierra Leone. The project’s aim is to upgrade engineering education and practice in Sierra Leone. A key part of the support being provided by the IC team is working with the Faculty in identifying the requirements for academic accreditation and assisting the faculty in their preparation for the assessment.

The visitors from IC were welcomed at a reception at the Deputy Vice Chancellor’s office, Professor J A L Kamara and met with senior staff in the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.

The team spent the next four days in sessions with staff and students of the engineering departments and observed lectures, practical laboratory work and final year projects. The ICL team were also taken on a conducted tour of the facilities of the Faculty and on-going rehabilitation and construction work in the College.

The visit was also an opportunity for the Imperial College International Relations Manager for Africa, Dr Esther Kamau, to meet with higher-education institutions in Sierra Leone, including the University of Makeni and the Tertiary Education Commission.

At the welcome reception at the vice chancellor’s office
IC team with engineering students at the Faculty of Engineering.

Some comments and observations from the Imperial College team:

We were welcomed warmly by our hosts, who were happy to accommodate our requests and helped us understand better the challenges the faculty is facing. We enjoyed our interactions with staff and students who showed great dedication towards teaching and learning. The students were wonderful, they all have a vision of applying their engineering skills for improving the quality of life in Sierra Leone. This was reflected in the exhibition of final year student projects where students demonstrated their built designs. This is an especially impressive achievement because of the limited availability of materials and facilities, and showed the determination of students and staff. It was an excellent way to conclude the visit.

We will provide a brief report of our visit with recommendations. In collaboration with faculty staff we will carry out a detailed analysis of the programmes and modules with an aim to support their endeavours towards international accreditation.

We really enjoyed our stay and hope to come back to see the progress that will be made in the faculty. We look forward to strengthening our friendship and to set up further collaborations in the future.

Some comments and observations from members from the Faculty of Engineering:

The visit by the ICL Team provided another opportunity for consultations on the accreditation assessment of the programmes in our Faculty.  While frank and professional in their discussions we recognise their appreciation of the work staff in the various departments were undertaking, given the constraints they encountered with regard to facilities and other resources. It is hoped that as we continue the documentation for accreditation and eventual submission, the partnership will be further strengthened and collaborative activities in research and mentorship will be discussed for implementation. (Prof Jonas A S Redwood-Sawyerr).