ARUA. Muni University chairperson of appointments board, Prof. Peter Okidi Lating has challenged Ugandan Universities to design and regulate their engineering courses so as to improve the quality of engineers produced in the country.
He also urged engineers to constantly embrace knowledge and register with international bodies to improve their standards and capacity to operate in any part of the world.
Okidi was delivering a key note address at the annual diner of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE) at the white castle hotel in Arua town over the weekend.
“There are some Universities where engineering students no longer do practical experiments but only demonstrations because laboratories have been occupied as classrooms. To make matters worse, you find a student with Christian religious education (CRE) background doing engineering and yet the profession is supposed to be regulated,” Prof. Okidi complained.
He said as a result, mega projects like the Karuma hydro power dam project have a bulk of its workers from outside the country.
The annual dinner, which is the first to be held in West Nile region, brought together registered professional engineers to deliberate on common issues and forge a way forward.
But Prof. Okidi noted that the 2018 theme: “Unlocking the potential of engineers to move Uganda forward,” can only be actualized if engineers are registered under a professional body.
He asserted that since 1969, the country had only registered slightly above 1, 000 engineers with the current active number standing at 635. He said such number gives a ratio of one engineer serving 63,000 people instead of the agreed standard of 1:2, 500 people.
The UIPE President, Eng. Vincent Ochwo said despite the numerous challenges that among others include the few numbers of females, the body had achieved great strides in 2018.
He said different trainings in health and safety, the annual technology conference, partnerships with technical colleges and advanced project management had been undertaken as a way of building the members’ capacity.
The Royal Academy of engineer’s also sponsored two awards each with a monetary value of 1, 000 British pounds. The awards which were given out during the same night of the dinner went to extraordinary students for their projects. Ms. Rachel Atim of Ndejje University and another from Uganda Christian University walked away with the awards.
Mr. Nahor Oya, the Arua resident district commissioner (RDC) said the government was committed to skilling its young population through establishment of technical schools and other special programs.
Oya, however, warned that any mismanagement in the profession can cause a lot of problems for human survival.
UIPE has expanded to have six branches across the country; West Nile and Mbarara branches that have newly been created join the previous Kampala, Soroti, Lira and Jinja branches.