Meeting industry needs
Namibia has a shortage of skilled personnel in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, and as a technological university geared towards providing qualifications in these disciplines, the Institution has consistently increased its graduates, with a particular focus on STEM. During the June 2021 ceremony, 958 students graduated with STEM qualifications.
Furthermore, the technical and vocational skills education and training in Namibia, currently does not meet the needs of various sectors of the economy. NUST responded to this by implementing quality programmes in this field. Although the numbers have been fluctuating over the past three years (2018-2020), the University has produced 394 graduates in the TVET discipline.
Two PhD candidates graduated from the Faculty of Computing and Informatics. Since 2018, the Institution has gradually grown its PhD graduates’ output to 11. NUST also offers qualifications at this level, in Engineering; Mathematics; Health Sciences; Spatial Sciences; and Natural Resource Sciences.
Below is some brief information about the most recent PhD graduates: Dr Ishpal Gill graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science. With his dissertation titled “Enhanced Advanced Encryption Standards (AES) Algorithm, he aims at enhancing and securing highly sensitive networks and data within his country.
He says that he was based in Namibia for approximately two years during his studies, and for one year in India, his home country. “The experience of studying remotely was great and very user-friendly due to the NUST web platform,” Dr Gill said.
Dr Anthony Ikechukwu graduated with a Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science. His dissertation titled: “Distribution Optimisation and Preventative Maintenance and Replacement Using an Evolutionary Algorithm,” speaks to the improved design of safety critical-systems in companies that have hazardous areas to prevent accidents such as the loss of life or harm towards humans, animals, or the environment. He says “Companies who would be able to use this mechanism are manufacturing plants, nuclear plants, and airports.
He further hopes to adopt his research to real-world problems, starting at his current workplace where he will identify existing optimisation problems and present possible solutions.
Dr Ikechukwu was based in Nigeria, his home country, for the entire duration of his studies. “Although my supervisors were geographically far from me, they were reachable. They were prompt to respond to emails and inquiries. My supervisors showed a high level of professionalism in their approach and conduct,” he elaborated.
The new normal
During her speech delivered to the graduates, Minister of Higher Education, Technology and Innovation, Hon Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi recognised NUST’s endeavouring efforts for introducing a digital strategy to mitigate the COVID-19 crisis within an educational system. “This virtual environment supports teaching, learning and the evaluation of assessments in a digital world,” Hon. Dr Kandjii-Murangi said. She was also pleased that NUST has taken its best efforts to cater for all students.
Concurring with Hon Dr Kandjii-Murangi, was Florette Nakusera, Chairperson of the Council. “I am happy to note that NUST has lived up to this challenge and graduated a number of students from those groups that were left behind, for example the Ovahimba, Ovazemba and the San community. Since 2018, until now, we have graduated 35 of which 12 are female students,” Nakusera said proudly.
Presiding over the ceremoney
In particular, this graduation ceremony was especially historical to the NUST Vice- Chancellor, Dr Erold Naomab, since it was his first time presiding over it. Dr Naomab illustrated that Namibia is well on course to advance the human-centric convergence of virtual and physical environments, and the emergence of society 5.0 to unlock the future potential of jobs and the creation of employment. “Today we have harnessed the power of the youth and exploited the demographic dividend. The qualifications awarded today, reflect the emergence of the future jobs as the Fourth Industrial Revolution-ready generation takes a leap into the future,” he explained.