Articles

AWB announces exciting engineering research training projects in Uganda

This year, AWB’s Strengthening Engineering Education and Research program was launched as an online project at Uganda’s Mbarara University of Science and Technology in close collaboration with its Faculty of Engineering. Two engineering faculty members from the Uganda Christian University also participated.

In the first phase of the project, between January and April 2021, 20 experts from Canada, Australia, Nigeria, the US, and Uganda volunteered as instructors and/or research advisors for an instructional workshop series.

The workshops covered a rich set of themes ranging from identifying a research topic to research implementation, dissemination, funding and proposal development. Trainees also benefited from tailored sessions on effective online teaching, innovation and entrepreneurship, university-industry relations and career development.

Image of gearsIn the second phase, trainees worked in teams guided by a highly experienced research advisor and developed 12 research proposals.

After an extensive peer-review process, seven research training projects were selected for funding – 6 projects at Mbarara University of Science and Technology and one at Uganda Christian College. These projects will be implemented over the next year and AWB volunteer research mentors will support each research team.

We are very pleased and excited to announce the research projects:

  1. Increasing access to medical oxygen in Ugandan rural hospitals through low pressure oxygen storage systems
    1. Project lead: Dr. Johnes Obungoloch
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Thomas Marlin, McMaster University
  2. Enhancing professional skills of engineering students going into industry internships
    1. Project lead: Mr. Vincent Ratagangibwa
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Thomas Marlin, McMaster University
  3. Developing a low-cost digital light microscope for remote diagnosis of malaria in resource-constrained areas
    1. Project lead: Dr. William Wasswa
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Ian Cunningham, Western University
  4. Designing a locally-produced wind blade for electricity production
    1. Project lead: Dr. Denis Bbosa
    2. Research mentor: Prof. David Wood, University of Calgary
  5. Developing low-cost electronic animal identification and monitoring tags for resource-constrained settings
    1. Project lead: Dr. Denis Igambi
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Marina Freire-Gormaly, York University
  6. Designing environmentally-friendly drilling fluids for the Ugandan oil industry
    1. Project lead: Dr. Farad Sagala
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Robinson Ejilah, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University
  7. Developing light-weight hollow concrete blocks from plastic waste for use in construction
    1. Project lead: Mr. Rodgers Tayebwa, Uganda Christian University
    2. Research mentor: Prof. Sarah Dickson, McMaster University

None of this would be possible without the generous participation of our research mentor volunteers – thank you all!

We also thank Mastercard Foundation for funding this project.

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AWB and partners launch Employment Readiness Program

Graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are in high demand, especially if they are well prepared to be leaders in their profession. With the Employment Readiness Program, AWB is adapting a successful online training program for future leaders in the emerging economies of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Industry Immersion Program was developed by our partners, the European School of Management and Technology and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences. The program equips STEM graduates with the additional skills and knowledge necessary to be leaders in local industry and business enterprises by way of an intensive 5-week workshop followed by an internship.

AWB’s objective is to expand the program beyond the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences so that more graduates in Sub-Saharan African can access its benefits. This will be accomplished by working with additional universities so that they are able to make the employment readiness experience an integral part of their STEM student experience – and to do so with their own staff and faculty.

The first additional university to join the program, Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, was part of the formal launch of the Industry Immersion Program for 2021 on July 15. One hundred people attended the launch online, including leaders of all the partner organizations and the first cohort of students. In addition to the 11 students from Strathmore University there are 43 students from the AIMS campuses in South Africa, Rwanda and Ghana.

The five-week workshop is delivered in a blended online/face-to-face format with lectures delivered remotely by faculty from the European School of Management and Technology, University of Toronto, and University of Victoria, and group work led by tutors at each of the 4 campuses. Participants will learn the principles of management, including data analytics, finance, marketing, negotiations, and organizational behaviour. Following the workshop, they will spend three to six months interning with an industry partner and refining their skills in the workplace.

Working with our partner university so that they are able to offer the program themselves in the future is the key feature of this new AWB program. AWB expert volunteers, Tania Killian (Seneca College) and Kristin Brandl (University of Victoria) will work directly with Strathmore University, mentoring local staff and faculty so that they are eventually able to deliver and administer the employment readiness program independently.


AWB’s involvement in the program is made possible by the support of Mastercard Foundation.

For more information, contact Dr. David Dunne, Program Lead, at [email protected].

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Online project update at Fatima Jinnah Women University in Pakistan

Kathleen MatheosDr. Kathleen Matheos from the University of Manitoba is an AWB volunteer on a project provide mentorship for the establishment of a Centre for Learning Excellence with Fatima Jinnah Women University in Pakistan. Given the current international travel limitations, this project is being implemented virtually.

This is AWB’s first project in Pakistan where pre-pandemic travel advisories had made on-site visits impossible. Ironically, the pandemic’s restrictions alerted us to the potential of working online in such locations.

In January 2021, the Academic Administrative Workshop was held online. Fifty-two departmental leaders and faculty members participated.

green university logo
The workshop covered a range of topics related to the establishment of a new academic support centre aimed at enhancing the quality of teaching and learning. The workshop was recorded and, along with reference materials, will serve as an ongoing resource.

The ten days of professional development also included three international keynote speakers who delivered sessions on academic values, women in academic leadership, and quality in higher education in uncertainty.

“This was the first workshop of its nature with a unique focus to generate a vigorous exchange of innovative ideas, experiences, and insights among the departmental leaders. This workshop was designed with an aim to mobilize their inner resources, inculcate a passion for continuous learning while strengthening their commitment for their role as department leader and towards the institution.

 

The participation of the emerging leaders was the most aspiring part of this workshop, which I believe will boost the overall quality of educational attainment in Fatima Jinnah Women University in the long run. This collaborative exchange both with the expert resource persons as well as among the participants may stimulate the departmental leadership to make substantial reforms in their individual departments in particular and university in general.”

– Dr. Salma Nazar Khan, Project Coordinator
Fatima Jinnah Women University

The next phase of the project will focus on crafting the policies and procedures surrounding the development of the newly established Centre for Professional Practice at Fatima Jinnah Women University.

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How the Coronavirus Pandemic has Impacted International Research Programs: A Personal Perspective

This fascinating and timely article was published in June, written by AWB volunteer and University of Manitoba professor, Dr. Jason Kindrachuk. The article references the three weeks he spent on an AWB project at the University of Nairobi Institute for Tropical Infectious Diseases in Kenya. Read the article in Forbes here.

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A world free of racism

AWB’s vision is that higher education is essential to building a more prosperous, healthy, and stable world. Such a world cannot exist unless it is free of racism and injustice of all kinds. Therefore, at this time, we reiterate our unwavering commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as fundamental values at the heart of our work and indispensable elements of the type of higher education in which we believe.

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U of T researchers volunteer to help Brazilian university build its first qualitative health research program

3 women standing side by side and smiling

U of T Associate Professor Denise Gastaldo, Margarida de Aquino Cunha, the rector of Brazil’s Federal University of Acre and Rozilaine Redi Lago

“Rozilaine Redi Lago, a visiting PhD student at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research (CQ) four years ago, taught the only qualitative research course at the Federal University of Acre (UFAC) in Brazil following her graduation. But she saw a pressing need for an entire program – a goal that U of T’s Denise Gastaldo and Brenda Gladstone, both volunteers with Academics Without Borders (AWB), are now helping to realize.”

Read more of this December 4, 2019 article about AWB volunteers from the University of Toronto.

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Article about AWB’s work with African Institute for Mathematical Sciences

3 men standing in front of a bookshelfAIMS works with partners to develop environmental policy – October 13

“The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) initiated a project to develop a comprehensive environmental policy for the AIMS network. AIMS acknowledges the importance of protecting environmental values as part of the global community. This project was developed with the assistance of Academics Without Borders and the University of Calgary.” “…Professor Getachew Assefa from the University of Calgary, working as an AWB volunteer on the project, donated his time and talent to assist AIMS in developing its first environmental policy.”

Read the full AIMS article here.

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AWB’s Executive Director participates in panel at Carleton University

Greg Moran, Executive Director of AWB, participated in a panel of experts on the topic of internationalization at a Sept. 9, 2019 event to support strategic planning at Carleton University. Carleton posted an article about the event on its website – read “Strategic Planning Speaker Series Explores a Global Perspective” here!

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