The Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, is living up to its billing as the country’s best citadel of technology with a new generation of ICT whiz kids and technological innovations
The Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Ondo State, is one of Nigeria’s best universities of technology. In the last 32 years, it has carved a niche for itself as the country’s leading citadel of technological education through excellent teaching and research initiatives geared towards global needs. This tradition of excellence received a fillip with the assumption of office of Professor Adebiyi Gregory Daramola, a fellow of the Nigerian Association of Agricultural Economists, as the institution’s sixth substantive Vice Chancellor, VC, on May 24, 2012. He has lived up to his promise of making the university a world-class institution and its products globally competitive. Professor Daramola has ensured that FUTA consolidates its leading position in terms of high-quality academic programmes, staff, facilities, graduates and research outputs.
Over the years, the university has contributed tremendously to national development through critical research breakthroughs and production of about 20,000 graduates who are trailblazers in different areas of the economy. In a recent survey conducted by the university, it was found out that FUTA’s graduates were favourably rated by their employers in terms of competence, communications skills, ICT proficiency and general human relations. In terms of research, the institution has carved a niche for itself. It won and is hosting the World Bank’s Centre of Excellence in Food Security. It also hosts the West African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adapted Land Use, WASCAL. The German-funded initiative located in FUTA has continued to realise its mandate of training Ph.D. students from the sub-region in all aspects of West African Climate System.
In addition to the six schools (which house all the over 30 academic programmes of the university), FUTA also has specialised research and allied centres for ease of academic and research administration. These are the Centre for Entrepreneurship, CENT, with the mandate of sub-degree technical trainings in various arts, crafts and trades; the Centre for Gender Issues in Science and Technology, CEGIST, with focus on gender balancing initiatives and efforts in relation to science and technology; the Centre for Space Research and Applications, CESRA, with focus on research and trainings in space physics, space technology and research applications in such regards; the Centre for Research and Development, CERAD, with focus on the coordination of all research and community service efforts in the University; the Computer Resource Centre, CRC, being the university’s beehive of ICT activities and services, among others.
FUTA enjoys flourishing academic relationships with several reputable centres of excellence in teaching and research. Under the watch of Professor Daramola, FUTA has extended this frontier by establishing collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force and a host of other international institutions. The university recently sent five of her students to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, FAMU, in the United States to complete their undergraduate programmes and pursue postgraduate degrees as part of students-exchange provisions of an existing collaboration between FUTA and FAMU. Efforts are in the top gear to commence similar relationships with some German universities.
FUTA students have scored a number of first under the administration of Professor Daramola thereby underlining the institution’s position as a centre of technological education and excellence in research and development. Recently a team of students of the university came first in the Second Annual Software Competition organised by the Federal Ministry of Education in conjunction with Microsoft, Huawei and the British Council. TEAM EAGLE INC from FUTA made up of Aboluwarin Olaoluwa, Banjo Mofesola and Oladapo Oluwadara, all 300-level Computer Science students, won the first psition with a software programme called Enchanter, which they described as a Twinkle-of-an-eye Card Exchange System. The trio using the Near Field Communication, NFC, developed Enchanter, through which contacts can exchange virtual complimentary cards through a click of their phones. Enchanter is a mobile application built on the Windows® Phone 8 platform and will work on any smart device with the NFC. The same team described by the VC, Professor Daramola as “FUTA whiz kids and Bill Gates of our time” also beat other universities to win the 2013 Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, ISPON Students’ Competition held at the Tinapa Business Resort, Calabar. Also, a female student recently emerged the Best Female Architecture Student in the country. The selection exercise that produced her was conducted by the Female Architects of Nigeria (FAN) under the aegis of Nigerian Institute of Architects (NIA). And in December 2013, a paper authored by a team from FUTA was adjudged the best presentation at the Eighth International Conference for Internet Technology and Secured Transactions (ICITST-2013 )held in London, United Kingdom. The paper titled: DGM Approach to Network Attacker and Defender Strategies, which was presented at the conference by Dr Kayode Alese was co-authored by himself, Iwasokun Gabriel Babatunde and Haruna Danjuma Israel (all from the Department of Computer Science, FUTA). The FUTA team’s paper beat 1,241 papers received from 96 countries to emerge the overall best according to the panel of assessors.
The VC has assured that this culture of excellence will continue. He said students at all levels are being trained to internalise and project the excellence in technology, which has become the hallmark of FUTA. He said the university will continue to support gifted students to realise their full potential. The ultimate aim is to breed a new generation of graduates who can add value to the society through innovations in ICT and other science related endeavors. “Our students are being trained to become ICT whiz kids and innovators, a new generation that will champion the country’s development in technology. We are breeding new Bill Gates and Steve Jobs so that Nigeria will be able to hold its own in the comity of nations in the area of information and communications technology and in other areas of the sciences. This feat is an icing on the cake for us and we will not rest on our (laurels), we will continue to strengthen our institution’s culture of scholarship and excellence,” Professor Daramola said.
He has also increased the pace and firm up the university’s town and gown engagements. CENT is currently training 50 ex-militants from the Niger Delta regions in various vocational and entrepreneurial skills. This is in collaboration with the Niger Delta Development Commission. In addition to this, CENT is also training cocoa pruners for the Ondo State government. CEGIST is actively involved in the activities of the Nigerian Women in Agricultural Research for Development (NiWARD). CEGIST and CENT work together in training budding entrepreneurs that will add value to the Nigerian economy as job creators. CESRA is in collaboration with African Regional Centre for space Sciences and Technology Education in English, ARCSSTE-E. ARCSSTE-E is an affiliate of the United Nations (UN).
Some landmark projects have been completed under the tenure of Professor Daramola. The tastefully finished new Auditorium whose inviting ambience hosted the 28th Annual Conference of the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities in October 2013; new Senate Building, new International Scholars Lodge, new University Bookshop, massive renovation, upgrading and rehabilitation of the institution’s road network and other critical infrastructure have changed the landscape of FUTA positively.
There is no doubt that FUTA remains one of the most peaceful universities in Nigeria. And with all academic programmes fully accredited by the NUC and culture of excellence being consolidated by the Professor Daramola administration, FUTA, which prides itself in high-calibre scholarship, professionalism and manpower development in science, technical and engineering education will certainly continue to maintain its leadership position in technological education. Professor Daramola is delivering on his promises and FUTA is doing well and going places under the watch of its sixth chief executive.
FUTA has indeed become the country’s Centre for Technological Excellence as well as an academic destination of choice for students, scholars and researchers.