Michael, Empowering the Teacher Programme scholar
Michael is a lecturer at Makerere University and one of the pioneering beneficiaries of Empowering the Teacher programme (ETT) by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Total.
Tell us about your experience at MIT?
The MIT-ETT fellowship programme was both a unique and futuristic experience for me. By spending a complete semester in MIT, I understood and appreciated MIT culture, particularly problem solving and learning by doing. My experience at MIT made me realise that the major challenges affecting higher education in Africa, including large class sizes, decline in quality of graduates and unemployable graduates due to mismatch between training and job market, can be solved using the approach of constructive alignment - designing courses based on intended learning outcomes, and matching the teaching activities and assessment tasks. Consequently, competency levels among university students move from the lower levels to the higher levels of evaluation, creation and judgment. The result of using this approach will be the inevitable increase in the quality of our students in Africa.
Why was this programme important to you?
The ETT programme is creating a critical mass of lecturers in Africa who in the medium and long term will change the outlook of engineering education in Africa. This is very important because it exposes us, lecturers from Africa, to the problem solving approach to teaching. The problem solving approach once fully utilised and understood can also be used in research and even business. This is crucial for the medium and long term economic development of Africa. The students will be able to identify real world problems affecting their communities and then use problem solving and analytical skills to solve these problems. Such skills will benefit the students at their work places and will be a tremendous asset to their respective economies.
How will the knowledge acquired help you?
My overall vision is to transform teaching techniques in the Department of Mechanical Engineering to the problem solving approach so that my students are competitive internationally and can identify and solve problems. Currently, the problems given to students are not based on real world applications, which means when students graduate they are not confident enough to apply their knowledge in the work place. Secondly, the problems given require students to memorise and reproduce. Because of this, the students cannot apply, evaluate and create when they complete their studies.
“My time at MIT was fantastic! The MIT approach to teaching is based on developing problem solving techniques among its students. The quality and standard set by the professors is very high which motivates the students to meet up to those standards.”
“Empowering the Teacher” Fellow with the Centre for International Studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sponsored by TOTAL
2013 - To Date
Lecturer, Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology, Makerere University
PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Dublin City University, Ireland
M.Sc. Mechanical Engineering (with specialisation in Sustainable Energy Engineering) from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden