THE PUBLISHER OF EVERGREEN NEWSPAPER AND ONLINE MEDIA, REV. ENGR. EMMANUEL NWAEZE, ACCOMPANIED BY REGIONAL EDITOR, DR KELLY IHETU, NEWS EDITOR MBAOMA CHISOM, AND CHIEF SECRETARY SUSSAN OGADINMA WITH CREW MEMBERS VISITED REV. ENGINEER, DR MICHEAL CHIDIEBERE ARIMANWA (RECTOR OF FEDERAL POLYTECHNIC NEKEDE IMO STATE) AT HIS OFFICE, AT 12:00 PM GMT +1.
Within the interview, REV. MICHEAL ARIMANWA bared his thought on transforming IMO state polytechnic from doing things manually to a digital and technological way.
INTRODUCING A DIGITAL WORLD AND SMART CAMPUS
…REV. ENGINEER, DR MICHEAL CHIDIEBERE ARIMANWA
- Sir, can we meet you officially?
ANS: My name is Rev. Engineer, Dr Michael Chidiebere Arimanwa and I am the 8th substantive Rector of the Federal Poly Nekede.
- What are your vision and mission towards the manufacturing of automated and semi-automated machine in this polytechnic?
ANS: I studied engineering; my field is civil and structural engineering. My vision is to move the institution from analogue to digital; where things are manually done we automate for ease of doing things in all ramifications as demanded by global best practices. Nobody planned for COVID-19, so when it came there is always an engineering response to any problem. In fact, the hallmark of engineering is to solve problems. So when COVID-19 happened we tried to find a way we can contribute at the local, state and national level and then we came up with a design which is the automated and non-automated hand sanitizer which are online and accessible.
We have the pedal-operated i.e. 3 pedals; one pedal dispenses soap, the other water and third sanitizer. You can decide to use water and soap alone or you can use just the sanitizer depending on what you want. We also have the fully automated machine which has a sensor that knows when individual approaches and brings out the soap, water or sanitizer whenever an individual stretches his/her hands towards the machine and it is powered by solar and we did all this due to the pandemic and this has projected our institution.
- Rector Sir, some institutions in Nigeria do not have the idea of empowering students into skills acquisition or entrepreneurship, how do you rate your school as number one fabrication centre policy?
ANS: Well if you have the privilege of travelling around polytechnics in Nigeria this institution is certainly the best in terms of entrepreneurship skills. If you visit our entrepreneurship development centre we have all kinds of the department, we make paints, nails and all kinds of things and we are looking at expanding to commercializing our products.
We produce just about anything in our entrepreneurship development centre and the idea of this is to train the student so that beyond their academic environment and knowledge they should have other skills because we know that there are no jobs anywhere, we don’t have jobs waiting for students, so it is important that we create something that will enable the individual at graduation be employable either self-employed or get a job immediately. And these things have been supported by the federal government, national board for technical education and funding has also been there to assist us in this vane.
- Concerning the good quality of sanitizer your institution is manufacturing, what effort are you making so that the entire Ndi-IMO gets it and even beyond?
ANS: It is our intention to mass produce; in fact, we are in the process of mass-producing and making it available. Our COVID-19 response committee has included a marketing angle to it and what we did initially was to distribute to some people within our capacity free of charges like the local community and few other people, having done that they already know is high quality and they will help us in marketing as well.
But we have created a conscious department of COVID-19 response committee that will help in marketing. They are made up of lecturers and students in the marketing department so they will use their skills and knowledge as marketers to sell the product across the nations.
B: How are you trying to get funding from the international community, possibly relevant donor agencies in Nigeria to facilitate the manufacturing of this automated machine and sanitizer especially in this time of pandemic?
ANS: We have made inquires of how to get funds and help and we are told to apply to the central bank provided we have something to present which we have, we got the information on Monday, so we are going to apply to them to assist us in mass-producing our product because we don’t have funds to mass produce and keep so we only produce on request. If you request you pay we produce and deliver, we do not mass produce and keep in a warehouse because we don’t have the funding but if there is a government agency or international organization then we will produce them and keep them in a showroom so people can come and buy.
- How have you been maintaining your number one position in the league of institution/polytechnics in Nigeria?
ANS: By been focus. One very important thing about this institution is that we are focused, we know where we are, and where we are going so we are very conscious of our position as number one and we don’t want to lose that position so because of that we do everything to sustain and maintain ourselves at that level, whatever it will take that is legitimate.
We are making sure that academic wise we are the best, in administration we are the best, in all accept of things we are the best. Now we are creating a digital environment as part of our drive to remain on top as the best polytechnic.
- Sir, how has funding been to your institution especially in this season of COVID-19?
ANS: Funding has been a problem, funding is never enough. It is the biggest challenge that an educational institution will tell you. Education is very expensive, it is not easy to run a lab or provide a machine in a workshop especially engineering workshop.
In view of the challenges of funding, I will really advise the authorities who are responsible for fiscal appropriation to see to it that there is a conscious effort to improve funding in education. They should look at other things that can be scaled down gradually and we should move the ladder to achieve the united nation requirement for funding in Education.
- Apart from funding sir, are there other challenges?
ANS: Other challenges have to do with navigating from what use to be. Most people are used to a particular way of doing things and introducing a new way is usually challenging.
Right now we are introducing a digital world and SMART campus. This is a campus where you access our internet, website, teach online and to borrow books from the library. Also to get the co-operation of everybody to move away from the manual way of handling files to a digital way of doing it. A lot of people oppose it and it is not easy but we are gradually getting the co-operation of staff, and student to our move for a digital environment.
- Sir, recently you were elected as fellow of NSE, how has it been so far?
It hasn’t been easy, I became a co-operating member of Nigeria Society of Engineers in 2001 and to be elected a FELLOW is a very distinguished honour, it is not an easy thing at all. The Nigeria Society of engineers doesn’t elect anybody fellow just like that, so it is something I cherish, admire and I am excited about it.
And from that 2001 I have served in several committees in Nigeria society of engineers so, among my colleagues there, I am well known, we have served together in different committees, attended different conferences and made different contributions so I was excited when I received a letter saying I have been considered for election as a FELLOW.
- Sir, what is the real deal behind your smart school policy?
ANS: we have a smart campus policy which we launched officially. And that policy is to move away from manually way of doing things to doing them digitally and electronically. We now have a registration process that is fully automated from beginning to the end. So it is now easy for students to come and register, they can also register from home without queuing up in lines. They can register with their phones, laptops, palmtops etc at the comfort of their homes.
We have phases of the implementation of the smart campus policy. We are already acquiring student records online so that those who need things like transcripts can get it in two days because before now it has always been a herculean task for students. if you applied for transcripts you have to come in person and it will take two or three months before you get it because files have to be moved but now because of the way we are Automating our procedures and processes right from the time the results are submitted and approved the transcript is ready so you only need to show evidence of payment and they will key in your name and reg-number then the transcript will be ready. The only reason it takes 2 days is because of little Authentications.
Peradventures 200 students want to apply at a time how possible is it?
We have adequate bandwidth to take any number within our environment. So the important thing is to create an adequate bandwidth which we have and we are in lead with a certain organization who provide adequate bandwidth
Many institutions use your Motor “polynekede leads others follow if they want and we can’t force them” So I have seen that a whole lot of Institution has used your machine as a prototype. So are there machines put in place to checkmate their standard.
ANS: What we have done is to obtain a trademark, patent right which we have registered and I have seen people who copied us, we will look at that and our legal team will advise us on what to do. But we have created and obtained a patent for what we produce
Do you have plans of modernizing it in the coming future?
ANS: Definitely, every product does not end with the first Edition. There will always be an improvement in everything. So when we get feedback from people who bought it we will be able to incorporate their feedbacks in subsequent designs and production.
Finally, what is your advice to the students?
I will advise the students and everybody to continue to stay safe and obey the protocol of NCDC and WHO as well as federal Ministry of Health, let’s continue to obey the protocol established by these bodies so that we will remain safe. Whatever they say we should do which will increase our safety whether they are staff, student or anybody, we should obey the social distance and protocol to be safe.