The president of the Uganda Institution of Professional Engineers (UIPE), Dr Dorothy Okello, has expressed concern over the increasing number of engineers leaving the profession for other fields.
Speaking at Makerere University last week, Okello said while about 600 engineers are licensed to practice, they need more training to make them relevant in the labour market.
“If you look closely, 13 of the 26 objects of the National Development Plan that will lead us to a middle-income status country have an engineering input,” Dr Okello said.
“So, our main concern is how we train engineering students so they can reach international industry standards. We need to study how our products are assimilated in the industry.”
She raised her concerns during the launch of a three-month review of programmes at the college of Engineering, Design Art and Technology (Cedat) that attracted engineering experts from countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and South Sudan.
The launch also saw experts from the British Royal Academy of Engineering joining their counterparts from Makerere, Busitema, Ndejje and Uganda Christian universities.
Okello said there is need to have all fourth-year students’ projects based on industry problems so that institutions adopt a problem-solving approach to teaching.
Cedat principal Dr Henry Alinaitwe was also concerned about the current training of engineers.
“The number of engineering graduates has increased from 40 to 600 per year over the last 20 years,” Alinaitwe said.
“[However] many engineers are not hands-on and many others have transferred to sales and marketing rather than innovation.”
Okello, also a senior lecturer in computer engineering, disclosed that training of students will improve further with support from Uganda Electricity Generation Company Ltd (UEGCL) and Uganda National Roads Authority.
The two institutions signed a memorandum of understanding with Makerere University to help train its engineering students.
“Unra has offered us an opportunity that for every contract awarded, 30 per cent of engineers on the projects must be Ugandan,” she said. “I don’t know if we can raise the number the engineers needed but the challenge is onto us now.”