A new partnership between RISE and the Nigeria-based African University of Science and Technology (AUST) was celebrated at an event in Abuja on August 8. More than 40 invited guests from universities, research institutes, embassies, foundations and other organizations gathered on the AUST-Abuja campus for presentations and discussion. Speakers included Wole Soboyejo, president of AUST; Phillip Griffiths, chair of the Science Initiative Group at the Institute for Advanced Study, which administers RISE; Dr. Tade Aina, Program Director, Higher Education and Libraries in Africa, Carnegie Corporation of New York; and Joseph Borode, head of the RISE-AMSEN node at the Federal University of Technology in Akure, Nigeria.
The partnership builds on a foundation of common goals that led to the establishment of both initiatives – AUST in 2007 and RISE in 2008. Both are based on the premises that science and engineering are essential to Africa’s development; that the African continent holds an enormous pool of untapped talent; and that African universities and research institutes are the ideal training ground for scientists and engineers to develop the skills needed to tackle Africa’s challenges.
AUST is a pan-African university established by the Nelson Mandela Institution as a center of excellence for science, technology and innovation. AUST offers a hybrid approach to education that includes five core disciplines and three interdisciplinary programs. Courses are taught by international and resident faculty from some of the leading institutions of the world. Support comes from the World Bank, African Development Bank, Government of Nigeria, and stakeholders from the international community and the African Diaspora.
RISE prepares PhD and MSc-level scientists and engineers through university-based research and training networks in disciplines relevant to Africa’s development. Its primary emphases are on preparing new faculty to teach in African universities and on upgrading the qualifications of current faculty. RISE consists of five competitively selected networks involving 14 universities and research institutions in nine countries. The initiative receives major funding from Carnegie Corporation of New York, and individual networks have obtained additional support from a variety of other sources including the European Union, African governments, and several foundations.
AUST and RISE previously collaborated on a workshop in materials science co-taught by faculty from both initiatives. The partnership will facilitate additional joint activities including faculty and student exchanges, and it will provide an administrative home for RISE on the African continent.
Collectively, RISE and AUST have already involved students from 28 African countries. Professor Soboyejo told the assembled guests that “with a combined RISE-AUST effort that will create a framework to promote and build networks, we can have a continental impact.”