Educating Engineering leaders for Africa in Africa: a joint master’s degree partnership with ETH Zurich

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Sustainable development across the globe will hinge on the African continent – for nowhere else will population growth be as rapid in the years to come. Educational institutions across the continent need to be engaged in preparing highly skilled engineers from Africa, for Africa, to promote sustainable patterns of industrial development. Under the ETH for Development (ETH4D) initiativeETH Zurich’s partnership with Ashesi will serve as a key model.

Watch a recording of formal announcement event

Harnessing ideas and expertise
Lecturers and professors from Ashesi University and ETH will teach in tandem, while helping Ashesi build capacity to independently run the Master’s degree programme. At the same time, the ETH community will be gain opportunities for further collaboration with Ashesi’s community, and learn about the everyday lives and perspectives of students across Africa.

In addition to donor funding raised through the ETH Foundation, industrial partners ABBBarry CallebautBühlerLafargeHolcim and Nestlé are supporting this pioneering project through funding and scholarships. In addition, the internships and career opportunities being offered at their African offices will equip graduates with the skills needed by emerging local labour markets.

“We know that whatever the future holds for Africa, Science, Technology, and Engineering will play a fundamental role,” said Ashesi President, Patrick Awuah. “Here at Ashesi we have been very keen on building a strong Engineering programme. We started with an undergraduate programme five years ago, and it has been wonderful to have this opportunity with ETH Zurich to start a master’s programme as well. It fits exactly with Ashesi’s mission, and we have tremendous hope that this partnership will help create an even brighter future for Africa and the world.”

ETH Rector Sarah Springman also added, that “we want this Master’s Degree to have a real impact on sustainable development. We are drawing here on the different skills and perspectives of the project parties – ETH, Ashesi and partners from industry – as we all want to learn from each other to build a better and more integrated educational offering that can flourish independently in the future”.

The joint degree programme is planned to begin in 2021, with teaching to be conducted in blocks at Ashesi. The core subjects for the Master in Mechatronics Engineering will include aspects of automation, production and robotics, supplemented by interdisciplinary knowledge in the design, optimisation, control and management of production processes, machines and systems. It will also maintain Ashesi’s emphasis on multidisciplinary learning, with courses such as Leadership, Corporate Responsibility, Sustainable Engineering and Development Economics.

Jumpstarting with a Double Master
Initially, the Master’s programme will last three years and comprise a Master of Science (MSc) from Ashesi and a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) from ETH Zurich. Graduates of the first five cohorts will thus receive a degree from ETH and one from Ashesi. The collaboration will ultimately lead to an independent, two-year MSc degree from Ashesi University.

This is a completely fresh approach in higher education that seeks to advance engineering education without creating dependencies. Should it be successful, it will form a blueprint for similar initiatives in the future.

Doors are open for industrial partners
We are looking for companies that are operational across Africa, or those wanting to enter the market and strengthen their resources in Africa, to join us in this effort. Partners will gain access to high-calibre engineers and future managers from the region, and can help provide scholarships, internships and mentorship to students.

For more information, contact Ashesi University at: info@ashesi.edu.gh, or Professor Edoardo Mazza at ETH Zurich: mazza@imes.mavt.ethz.ch.

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