Stephen Ekwaro-Osire received a five-year grant to help increase the capabilities of the undergraduate engineering program at Jimma University in Ethiopia.
Texas Tech University's Stephen Ekwaro-Osire, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering, received a five-year, $816,392 grant from Jimma University in Ethiopia to help lead the institution's Pathway Toward Global Engineers program.
“This grant was motivated by the pandemic disruptions, and there are two objectives,” Ekwaro-Osire said. “One is to increase the capabilities and quality of the undergraduate engineering students from Jimma University. The second is to increase the capacity – meaning the faculty, the facilities, everything – to offer high-quality engineering programs.”
Ekwaro-Osire will work with professors and administrators at Jimma University as well as local industry members and stakeholders during this process.
“We aren't going to be physically teaching classes,” Ekwaro-Osire said, “but we will conduct workshops for faculty and administrators on how to do certain things and, with other additional interventions and collaborations, a shift in the educational paradigm will be facilitated.”
The grant comes out of necessity from disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Engineering programs are adjusting so that next time we have such a shock event as we had with COVID-19, we are resilient and can continue what we're doing despite the circumstances,” Ekwaro-Osire said. “That's why Jimma University is interested in having a program that is shock responsive. Despite what is going on in the world health-wise, or maybe even just economically, they need to be resilient and able to continue.
“On the other hand, there have been a lot of lessons learned through COVID-19 that a lot of universities would like to keep because they seem to work very well with the students. To some extent, the students would like to keep certain aspects, like optional virtual learning. So those aspects are going to be integrated into some of the enhancements and changes that will be made to the whole engineering education system.”
Ekwaro-Osire noted the impact this will have on Jimma University is tremendous.
“We are talking about an engineering program with an enrollment of 12,000 students,” he said. “Jimma University offers 13 engineering bachelor's degree programs and awards more than 1,000 undergraduate engineering degrees a year. So, the scale is quite enormous, but we're up for the challenge.”
“I'm excited to help Jimma University with its 13 programs in engineering, engineering technology, computer science and natural science,” Heinze said. “The university has goals to offer global-level programs. This is a great opportunity for Texas Tech to recruit additional, outstanding graduate student candidates for our engineering college.”
This is the second grant Ekwaro-Osire has received that involves Jimma University. In 2018, he and a group of Texas Tech professors collaborated to develop four new graduate programs for the Ethiopian university.