Engineering Education in Ghana

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2.2.4 EDUCATION

Education serves as an engine for economic growth through the accumulation of human capital. Education is strongly associated with boosting levels of social capital (Campbell, 2006). the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for maturelife (Dictionary.com, 2014).

2.2.5 ENGINEERING EDUCATION

Engineering education is the activity of teaching knowledge and principles related to the professional practice of engineering. It includes the initial education for becoming an engineer and any advanced education and specializations that follow. Engineering education is typically accompanied by additional examinations and supervised training as the requirements for a professional engineering license.

2.3 ENGINEERING EDUCATION IN GHANA OVER THE YEARS

Engineering education in the then Gold Coast dates back to the 1930’s. In August 1931, the Colonial Government requested Achimota College in Accra to organize an engineering course to train Africans for senior appointments in the Public Works Department, the railways and later, the mines. The course, which was based on the external degree syllabus of the University of London, consisted of four and a half years of study at Achimota, followed by between three and four years of structured post-graduation practical training. Initially, the course offered at Achimota led to degrees in electrical, mechanical and civil engineering, but with the expansion of activities in the mining sector in the Gold Coast, it became necessary for the School to expand its course offerings to include mining engineering. In spite of the difficulties it experienced, the Achimota Engineering School managed to turn out a total of twenty-five engineers before the start of the Second World War compelled it to shut down. These engineers were to play key roles in the immediate post-independence development of Ghana and also served in other African countries as well as working for international agencies. With the establishment of the University College of the Gold Coast in Legon, Accra in 1948, university education was phased out of the Achimota College campus. Unfortunately, no provision was made for the transfer of the engineering courses to the new University College, hence the training of engineers was interrupted between 1948 and 1952 when a School of Engineering was again established as part of the new Kumasi College of Technology and the equipment, and some staff of the Achimota Engineering School transferred to Kumasi to form the nucleus of the new school. From 1952 to 1955, the School of Engineering prepared its students for membership of the various Professional Institutions in the United Kingdom. The formal training of graduate engineers of various specializations commenced in 1955 in special relationship with the University of London and students were prepared to take Parts I, II and III of the University of London Bachelor of Science (Engineering) External degree examinations. The first professional engineers produced by the Kumasi School of Engineering, who were all civil engineers, graduated with the university of London External B.Sc. (Eng.) degree in June 1959. The School of Engineering began to award its own engineering degrees in June 1964.

2.3.1 ENGINEERING EDUCATION FOR NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Relevance of engineering programs to the needs of industry has sometimes been interpreted as a situation in which the products of an engineering program are to be trained to be of immediate use to industry after little or no post-graduation training. Pressures, therefore, tend to be put on African engineering faculties to cut down on the content of the theoretical aspects of their courses in favor of vocational aspects – pressures which are, in turn, often fiercely resisted by engineering educators. Yet, engineering programs in African Universities stand to gain tremendously when there is active co-operation between engineering educators and the principal consumers of engineering manpower based on mutual respect and clear appreciation of the roles of the various stakeholders. It is also anticipated that the technological gap between the developed and the developing world will become even wider in the 21st Century, thus, making engineering training even more situation-specific. This will mean that Ghana will have to depend even more on her national institutions for the training of the engineering manpower relevant to their development needs. It will, therefore, be necessary for the professional associations and the training institutions in Africa to co-operate even more closely in defining the content of the engineering curricula of the 21st Century.

2.4 DESIGNING AN ENGINEERING SCHOOL

2.4.1CONDUSIVE TEACHING ENVIRONMENT

To prevent the various problems students and lecturers face in the classroom, it is important to put into consideration the arrangement of the classroom. Savage 2009 indicates that, the physical arrangement of classrooms plays a leading role in the character shaping of students and goes a long way in improving the academic performance of students. If a classroom is not well designed, it affects the output of students, therefore impeding on the purpose for which lectures are intended. The research on classroom environments suggests that classrooms should be organized to accommodate a variety of activities throughout the day and to meet the teacher’s instructional goals (Savage, 1999; Weinstein, 1992). The standards for determining what spatial lay-out is most appropriate to fulfill these functions include: ways to maximize the teacher’s ability to see and be seen by all his or her students; facilitate ease of movement throughout the classroom; minimize distractions so that students are best able to actively engage in academics; provide each student and the teacher with his or her own personal space; and ensuring that each student can see presentations and materials posted in the classroom. Seating arrangement in lecture halls are very crucial since it indicates whether there will be social exchanges in the class is task behaviorally pleasing. It is also very crucial to prevent high traffic areas in classroom designs, such as waste basket areas. Critically, it is very important that, students have a clear view of the lecturer at every point in time (Quin et al., 2000). In doing so, the lecturer should also be giving freedom in his movement through the lecture room or classroom. There is some evidence that it is useful to limit visual and auditory stimulation that may distract students with attention and behavior problems (Bettenhausen, 1998; Cummings, Quinn et al., 2000). The physical arrangement of the classroom can serve as a powerful setting event for providing students effective instruction and facilitate (or inhibit) positive teaching or learning interactions. As with other aspects of instruction, the physical arrangement of the classroom should be reflective of the diverse cultural and linguistic characteristics of the students and be consistent with specific learner needs.

2.4.2 STAIRWAYS

Staircases are seen as connectors between at least two different levels. Vertical risers and horizontal treads are connected to steps over a slope. It can also be defined as a system of steps by which people and objects may pass from one level of a building to another. One of the most critical parts of school traffic design is the stairway, which should be located in relation to the inclusive traffic pattern, keeping in mind load distribution, safety, destination of students between periods and elimination of cross traffic. The stairways should be designed for uncomplicated, fast, and safe movement of boys and girls. Stairways not only provide access to and from various floor levels, but they are used at every period for the vertical circulation of students changing classes. It is important that stairways should be designed to ensure that boys and girls with books under their arms may walk side by side to avoid congestion; a width of 4 feet 8 inches to 5 feet between handrails is recommended. Stairways should be of fireproof construction, leading directly to the outdoors. They should be equipped with smoke-control facilities, separating the stairwells from the corridors which they serve.

2.4.3 CORRIDORS

A well-designed school has corridors that accommodate the free and informal movement of students. The narrow corridor usually requires formal, regimented, and supervised traffic flow. The walls of corridors should be free of all projections. Heat units, drinking fountains, fire extinguishers, lockers, doors, and display cases should be recessed in the interest of student safety. Acoustical properties are desirable to reduce hall noise. Corridors should be well lighted, with emergency provision in the event of main power failure. Floor covering should be durable, nonskid, and easy to maintain. The maximum length of unbroken corridors should not exceed 150 feet to 200 feet longer sections give an undesirable perspective.

2.5 FORMAL SPACES

2.5.1 CLASSROOMS

Classrooms have relatively straightforward requirements: line of sight, good acoustics, and a focal point at the front of the room serving as the platform for teachers to lecture.

Physical constraints such as the ability of students to turn around in their seats, can limit the success of a designed classroom space. The room may be designed for student collaboration. Seats may be arranged in paired rows with specially design chairs that allow students to face each other for collaboration.

Apart from the classroom and formal spaces, educational institutions are also designed with the provision of informal spaces in mind.

2.5.2 OFFICES

The determination of whether an office or cubicle will be assigned is based on an individual's job description and position within the organization. Factors such as confidentiality or security requirements, number of employees supervised and special equipment requirements will be evaluated. Offices should be placed near the interior core space. This increases the penetration of natural light into the building. When it is impractical to locate offices near the interior core, door sidelights and borrowed lights should be considered to bring daylight into the interior spaces. Translucent glazing such as frosted or patterned glass can be used if there is a visual privacy need. Offices located in the interior of the building space should be provided with a door or sidelight assembly or a borrowed light (interior window) in at least one wall at a height above the finished floor that allows visual privacy while transmitting light from the outside.

2.6 REQUIREMENTS OF LECTURE HALL SPACES

(The following requirements of a classroom design have been taken from the “University of Maryland, Baltimore County General Lecture Hall Design Guidelines, and Revised August 25, 2000). Physical Access and Movement - The design shall take into account the flow of students both in and out of the space and within the space as well as the need for the instructor to move around in the front of the room.

1. Sufficient space is needed near the front of the room for setting up audiovisual equipment, such as projection screens and charts.

2. Ceilings should be a maximum of 9.5 feet high.

3. Light from windows should, if possible, come over a pupil's left shoulder. No lecturer should be required to face the windows when addressing the class from the normal teaching position.

4. Ceilings and/or walls should be acoustically treated.

5. Floors should have a cushioning material.

6. The classroom should have as quiet a location as possible, away from noisy outdoor areas. Ease of access to specialized facilities outside the academic unit should be ensured.

2.6.1 DOORS

The flow of students should be the major factor in determining the location of entrances. Entrances should be located to avoid student traffic passing through non-instructional areas. In addition, large numbers of students travelling in corridors and hallways can generate unwanted noise. In determining the size of entrances and exits, building codes should not be the only criteria. The flow of students in and out of rooms can have a major impact on size of entrances and exits. The design of entrances, exits, stairs, corridors, and exterior paths should take into account between-class student traffic. For example, it is not realistic to assume that a room will be completely vacant when students begin arriving for the next class. Provision should therefore be made for vision panels in entrance doors. They could be tinted. Also, provision should be made for door stops to protect the wall surface.

2.6.2 FLOOR, WALLS AND CEILINGS

In smaller classrooms, it is common to use vinyl composition tile or carpet. Carpeting should be provided in all rooms unless discipline specific related courses dictate otherwise. The ceiling height is another important consideration when designing the space. For example, because a projection screen must be large enough to display images of adequate size, it must be placed high enough from the floor to provide unobstructed sight lines. This usually requires a ceiling height higher than the standard eight feet.

2.6.3 NOISE CONTROL

Other important factors must be considered in the design. To avoid the noise generated by their operation and use, vending machines must be located as far away as possible. Trash and recycling containers should be located near the vending machines. Restrooms and drinking fountains should be located nearby and should be designed to handle student use between classes. To prevent unwanted noise transmission, restrooms should not share common walls, floors, or ceilings with instructional spaces

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