Having learnt theories without the corresponding practical experience for decades, students of the Engineering Department at the state-run University of Liberia (UL) can now boast of well equipped laboratories that can help them to visually see and touch things they have studied.
Labs of the departments of Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Geology and Mining Engineering of the College of Engineering are currently equipped with new and modern equipment provided by the Excellence in Higher Education for Liberia Development (EHELD), a USAID and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) sponsored non-governmental organization working with the UL and the Cuttington University (CU).
In the Civil Engineering Department, there are material testing equipment for concrete and steel, soil testing and curing machines and surveying and mapping equipment.
The Electrical Engineering Department is also equipped with circuit and electronic equipment of various kinds for analyses and design, energy conversion equipment for Alternating Current and Direct Current and embedded and control system lab equipped with computers of complex software.
The Geology Department is filled with soil microscopes for viewing the chemical composition of rocks and minerals.
The UL Administration has created exclusive computer labs through the help of British oil giant, Exxon Mobil and equipped with modern desktops to give students knowledge in information technology.
The reading room is also filled with updated textbooks and tablets that students can use to do research.
During a tour of the facilities on December 2 on the UL Fendell campus, students explained functions of the equipment and how helpful they are to them in the learning process.
Collins Vaye, a student of Electrical Engineering Department expressed excitement while explaining the functions of equipment in his lab: “We once did everything here on paper, but now we can boast that we are able to touch and see what we read about and will be able to practically do what we learn unlike our friends who graduated earlier.”
Besides the EHELD gesture to the UL, the Physics, Chemistry and Biology labs had earlier received some equipment from individuals and non-governmental partners including USAID.
Furthermore, labs have been set up for other departments including the Mass Communication and Business Management departments.
Mass Communication students studying Broadcast Journalism can now do Digital Audition in Adobe, while Management students do MS Excel and Internet in Micro Computer Application.
These computer labs were made available by the Liberia Bank for Development and Investment (LBDI) and the Chinese Embassy near Monrovia.
UL President Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, at an open house program, showered appreciation on partners for providing the equipment that the administration has yearned for over the years.
Dr. Dennis acknowledged the cooperation of his administrative staff, noting, “A leader will never be better than his colleagues.”
He also commended EHELD and its partners for revising and improving syllabuses of the curriculum for the College of Engineering.
Andrew A. Baird, RTI Senior Director, Governance and Economic Development, recalled that seven years ago EHELD and UL had a discussion on a vision to encourage studies in Science and Engineering, referring to the current development as a product of that discussion.
USAID Deputy Mission Director, Mervyn Farroe, expressed his entity’s willingness to support education for the growth of Liberia.
He emphasized that education for women and youth is a foundation for having a well built nation.
Dr. Julius S. Nelson, UL vice president for Student Affairs dismissed the perception that UL did not have lab equipment and was therefore doing nothing.
Earlier, Augustus Moore, Dean of the College of Engineering acknowledged that the college has reached the peak where students and instructors are able to conveniently translate the theoretical models into practical applications.
According to him, the College of Engineering is becoming attractive to many Liberian students to the point where it has enrolled about 3,000 students at present.
He said Mechanical Engineering will shortly be introduced at the UL.
EHELD’s activities in Liberia are geared towards developing a pipeline to attract, enthuse, and prepare equal numbers of young men and women completing secondary school to study Agriculture and Engineering. It is also assisting leaders and faculty at CU and the UL to create academic centers of excellence in Agriculture and Engineering that employ sufficient high quality faculty, use up-to-date curricula, best practice teaching methodologies and materials, and provide facilities that are conducive to learning.