The University of Nottingham is playing a crucial role in nurturing engineering talent in developing nations. Here past students show how it has helped to shape the future of their careers, as well as their countries.
Few disciplines have as much impact on people’s lives as engineering. Those who are particularly talented have the potential to change the fortunes of million, even billions of people’s lives.
However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be born in a place where that talent is nurtured and developed. Recognising this, the University of Nottingham launched its Developing Solutions scholarship programme two decades ago.
Nottingham’s Developing Solutions scholarship programme
The scholarship provides students with financial access and support on a one-year master’s of science (MSc) programme. Since its inception in 2001, more than 1,000 students from developing countries around the world have benefited. In turn, they have been able to return to their own countries, equipped with the skills needed to help provide a better quality of life to their country and its citizens.
One student that has gone through the course is Shaka Essa. He won a Developing Solutions scholarship in 2007 and studied for a master’s in electronic communications and computer engineering.
Shortly after finishing his masters, he was recruited by Teltac Africa Ltd, which handles all of the voice and data traffic in and out of Sierra Leone. He now works there as its technical manager.
“My degree proved attractive enough for my present employers, who immediately recruited me upon completion of my course in 2008,” he says. “My studies at The University of Nottingham have greatly improved my knowledge and skills in the field of telecommunications, satellite and microwave communications, and advanced computer analysis. These have helped me in my current role.”
Supporting change around the globe
Other recent participants include a Ugandan doctor whose MSc in public health is helping to raise awareness of AIDS in South Sudan and Swaziland. One past student graduated in toxicology and is helping in the fight against malaria in Ghana. While another who studied for an MSc in environmental engineering is working with the United Nations to help protect the environment in Nigeria.
Yagoub Shadad is another graduate of the scholarship programme. He was previously employed as a teaching assistant at the University of Khartoum in Sudan and was also working as a structural engineer for the Zaroug Engineering Company.
Shortly after completing his master’s, he was employed as a consultant site engineer for Mondial’s Durrat Alneel project in Khartoum. Once constructed, the towers will be the second tallest building in the capital.
Following his work on that project, he moved to the Project Management Bureau where he helped prepare two successful tenders worth in excess of US$1.5 million.
“The course was unquestionably useful,” he says. “I commend the research facilities, especially the access to all sorts of resources at the university’s laboratories.”
Access to high quality research facilities
One of the main benefits of the programme, Shadad explains, is that access to research facilities that are beyond what is available in many developing countries.
“During my MSc, I was able to conduct extensive research using sophisticated technology on sufficient specimens – nine concrete beams. They were specially manufactured for my experiment, all of which was available in a record amount of time.”
Mahmoud Elnasri is also a recent graduate of the programme. Before taking part in the scholarship programme he was also working as a teaching assistant at the University of Khartoum.
Unlike the others, Elnasri used his MSc to go on and study for a PhD.
“Graduating from the programme enabled me to apply immediately for a PhD, which matches and accelerates my career ambitions, namely leading Khartoum University towards high standards of education. As well as that, I want to motivate the upcoming generations in developing the country.”
Supporting professional development
All the past students we spoke to agreed that the course helped them in their professional development.
“The Developing Solutions scholarship provides a lifeline to students with similar backgrounds to mine,” says Essa. “Many are motivated and able to pursue higher international education, but lack the resources to do so.
“I would definitely advocate its continued influence in advancing education in developing counties and aiding such students to play vital roles in advancing of their countries and the world at large.”
Shadad agrees, adding: “I don’t believe there is anything that wouldn’t have been possible without this scholarship eventually. However, I do believe that it helped put my future plans on a fast track, helping me to achieve my goals in a third of the time I anticipated.”