On Thursday, 14th July, the University of Lagos said plans were being made for the growth of the Department of Automobile Engineering in the institution soon.
In an interview, the Vice Chancellor of the school, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe disclosed that the institution is signing a Memorandum of Agreement between the university and NORD Motors, an indigenous automobile firm.
He also stated that the signing of the memorandum is a bold step in the right direction that is positioned to further intensify the university’s quest in equipping students with all the necessary skills before graduation.
“Education today has gone far beyond just theory. We are happy with this development because we are bringing the practical application right here to the university and even outside.
“With what we have therefore witnessed today, it now leads to the evolution of the Department of Automobile Engineering. This may happen in no distant time, hopefully in 2023.
“It is subsumed now in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. But very soon, we will be having the automobile engineering stand as a department of its own. It will also serve like their laboratory.
“Another advantage is that they will be using the department for industrial attachment for our students,” Ogundipe added.
He has also described the collaboration as the “Evolution Triple Helix Model,” as the university was bringing the industry, government and country together.
Ogundipe said that this would also stimulate research and development activities in the area of automobiles among members of the staff.
He said that any nation with the quest for development must look inward.
“This is the first time any nation with the quest for development must look inward.
“This is the first time any university is bringing an automobile company into its campus in Africa.
“What this means to us therefore is that they will start assembling the car in this university of Lagos, putting into consideration, the economic situation of this country.
“Our students will be able to gain first hand experience. Not only students of engineering, but architecture, finance, marketing, as well as those in creative arts.
“Some good ones could also be employed here and that will expose them at the international level, in the area of automobile engineering.
“Aside from this, it will also assist our academic staff in the area of research, maybe in the area of energy or fuel consumption. It is also a thing of pride for the university, the community and indeed the country at large.
“I also want to thank the chairman of Council for granting us the permission to go ahead with what we have witnessed here today,” the professor of Botany said.
On his part, Mr Oluwatobi Ajayi, CEO of NORD Motors, expressed delight at the development, noting that it was his little way of contributing to the development of the country.
According to him, there is the need to continuously encourage the youths, especially students in tertiary institutions, by making them understand that they have a future in engineering especially.
“I want to assure you that in two months time, our company will be establishing our assembly plant, as well as an ultra moden showroom, to be commissioned by the Vice Chancellor.
“I have always believed in Nigeria and believe in the great talents and natural resources therein. I will not stop at doing anything within my disposal to make Nigeria a pride before the entire world.
“It is time we must come together to return Nigeria to a producing nation and not a consumer nation.
“And one of the things we need to do in this regard is to start from our school, catching them young and equipping them,” he said.
Ajayi noted that engineering was critical to nation building, adding that it is the builder of every economy.
“We cannot just continue to be importing what we are capable of producing by ourselves.
“We must create the jobs, ,make our own cars and this is what gave rise to my conceiving the idea of approaching the university, those in the academia, to see how we can encourage our students to create a future for themselves and work together towards a better Nigeria.
“My expectation thereafter is that with what we are about to start, Nigeria will be a hub for automobiles in Africa.
“People around the continent will come to Nigeria to shop for vehicles and their components.
“And with this, Nigeria will take its place among industrial giants in the near future,” he added.
Prof Obinna Chukwu, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Management Services) of the institution described the collaboration as a thing of great joy.
He noted that the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between NORD Motors, an indigenous automobile firm and UNILAG was a giant step that had brought joy to both the students, staff, management and the council.
Chukwu noted that this relationship was predicated on the fact that NORD Motors would open an assembly plant in the university.
He said that the assembly plant would not only produce vehicles on campus, but also boast a showroom.
Describing the initiative as a bold move in entrepreneurship, the deputy vice chancellor said that it would also impact research and development.
“In the first instance, our students will be able to have first hand knowledge in a car assembly plant.
“They will also have an opportunity of taking advantage of all supply chain logistics that accompany automobile production.
“It is not just about the engineering. There are lots of other branches, some administration, some financing and others taht would benefit the students. So that exposure is quite important.
“Thirdly, when we were speaking with the chief executive officer of the firm, we said we need to change to a newer model.
“And for you to change to a newer model, in the past, we used to travel to Germany to meet experts who will sit down and get a concept design for a new model.
“That development of the newer model of NORD car, A3 specifically, will now be formed at teh University of Lagos. That is, involving members of staff and our students. You can see that this will go a long way in stamping our feet in our quest to at least, do something in the area of automobiles,” he said.
He recalled that the University of Lagos started off such a move a long time ago, under late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi, an engineering genius.
“He designed a bit of a directional armoured vehicle we called Autonov. Autonov 1,2, and 3.
“This is still available at the Faculty of Engineering. That vehicle have the singular specification of being driven forward and backward.
“You will also recall that the University of Lagos during its last convocation showcased what we call our Electric Vehicle.
“This was designed in a way that will assist the SMEs, as well as those that have micro enterprises here on campus, to enable them shuttle around using the vehicle.
“This will reduce our footprints in terms of emission and at the same time maximize their profits.
“So, to sum it up, this relationship we witnessed today is a step in the right direction and that has been the vision and mission of the current administration under Prof. Ogundipe,” he said.
Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Development Services) said one of the objectives of the partnership was to facilitate and develop a platform for willing and qualified students of the institution, in the art of manufacturing cars.
She said this was in conjunction with NORD, and to create a skills develoment drive to resolve the unemployment crisis among the youths, through priority employment for the institution’s graduates.
Atsenuwa noted that it would put the University of Lagos on the global map of automobile hubs in the world, by stamping on every car assembled in the institution’s facility, “Made in Nigeria; Manufactured in UNILAG, among others.