Scholar tasks Nigerian varsities on robotics, artificial intelligence

Prof. Bernard Baeyens. PHOTO: YouTube

A united States based don, Prof. Bernard Baeyens, has tasked the nation’s tertiary institutions to focus on training the younger generation for a future world ruled by artificial intelligence and robotics.

Baeyens, who is the President of the International Association for Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) was the keynote speaker at the founder’s day lecture of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun, Delta state.

The don, who spoke on the theme, ‘The role of traineeship in the development of technical knowledge said training is pivotal to national growth as the ageing elderly workforce would eventually be replaced by well trained younger generation.

He added that with more innovation in renewable energy, oil and gas would be phased out in the next 20 to 40 years but would still remain important within the period at least. However the new technologies will have their influence on how we work in sector too.

According to him, ‘Connected living, sharing economy and “rise of robotics” are critical trends that would define the future; hence it is necessary to rethink our economical system to reconnect us with growth.

“Our role as universities should be more about knowledge management than knowledge transfer as we have done in the past. The millennials, people born in the internet era, know very well how to access information about whatever topic they are interested in. You have webinars on everything and through their network they know very fast what is working and what’s not. This gives time to reflect and to structure the way they approach knowledge. Part of it is the connection with the reality that we ideally can realise through traineeships in the real world” .

He explained that IAESTE as a non-profit, non-political organisation provides a network for exchanging traineeships worldwide basically in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields of study.

“The idea of exchanging traineeship between the countries emerged in 1938 but IAESTE came into being in 1948 as an adhoc organisation and was only registered in 2005 in Luxembourg and present in more than 85 countries exchanging about 4000 traineeships each year. Since inception, IAESTE have changed the lives of more than 350,000 students participating in its traineeships.

While shedding more light on the traineeship scheme, Prof. Baeyens said, “The first responds to the will of the government to reduce youth unemployment; the second type is related to the academic world; the third is a kind of traineeship designed to meet the needs of employers, while the fourth concerns foreign exchanges with institutions across the world.



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