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How AUN is a catalyst for STEM Education in the region By Dr. DeWayne Frazier

How AUN is a catalyst for STEM Education in the region By Dr. DeWayne Frazier

Thank you for that warm introduction.  I wanted to take a couple minutes to say thank you to all the organizers of this event here on the campus of the American University of Nigeria by giving them another round of applause.  I would also like to think all the teachers that are here today and are attending to support their students in these exceptional fields of STEM.  The American University of Nigeria is no stranger to be a path blazer, a game changer and innovator and this is evident today as we are in this new auditorium as a part of the newly construct ed and soon to be commissioned School of Law next to the other newest building on campus, the new School of Engineering.   

Welcome to the thrilling world of STEM Day, where we celebrate the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. From PI to applied physics to nuclear engineering to the fascinating field of microbiology and biochemistry, STEM is full of excitement.  It's a day filled with excitement, inspiration, and a whole lot of geekiness as we say in America.  It is a day, that is truly cool to be smart and show all your superpowers in the sciences, and I love it as I was one of you growing up as I was a “math wiz” and even had a undergraduate background in mathematics.   But STEM Day is not just about having fun; it's about recognizing the importance of supporting STEM careers and nurturing the next generation of innovators

In a world driven by technology and innovation, the importance of STEM education cannot be overstated. The American University of Nigeria (AUN) has emerged as a leader in the region, setting the bar high for STEM education. Through its commitment to excellence, cutting-edge facilities, and a comprehensive curriculum, AUN has established itself as a beacon of STEM education, nurturing the minds of future innovators and problem solvers.

One of the key factors that sets AUN apart is its state-of-the-art facilities. The university has invested significantly in creating a conducive environment for learning and research in STEM fields. From well-equipped laboratories to advanced technology infrastructure, AUN provides its students with the tools they need to excel. These facilities not only enhance the learning experience but also encourage students to explore, experiment, and push the boundaries of knowledge. Example, I tell the story of Google when just a few years back the American based Silicon Valley company was completing a world map of usage and they were flabbergasted when they discovered that over 50% of their web traffic in Nigeria at that time was coming from one single small place in one of the less populated areas of the country, Yola.   Google would discover what many of you already know, that not only was there an American University located in Yola but it had some of the best WIFI and internet infrastructure in the entire country and region.  Even today, our relationship with Google continues to prosper as our entire email system is based on the Google Suite of products and we have received numerous grants from them to operate various technology related programs.  

Another important point, AUN Faculty are experts in their respective fields. Committed to delivering quality education, the faculty members at AUN are not only highly qualified but also passionate about their subjects. They go beyond traditional teaching methods, incorporating innovative approaches that foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. The guidance and mentorship provided by these experienced professionals play a crucial role in shaping the minds of aspiring STEM professionals.  

Even today you have had the opportunity to hear from many of them as they discussed their programs and research.  One of the differences at the AUN is that our faculty involve their students in undergraduate research, something that is not common across the world.  Our faculty strongly believe in this saying that is credited to Chinese philosophers thousands of years ago.

 

Tell me, and I will not forget — show me and I may remember — but involve me, and I will understand.

Another item that truly makes AUN special in the STEM is our comprehensive curriculum that incorporates a more continuous assessment and not merely test-based at one juncture in time.  AUN's curriculum is designed to provide students with a well-rounded education in STEM fields. It emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach, integrating theoretical knowledge with practical application. Students are exposed to a wide range of courses, covering subjects such as computer science, engineering, mathematics, and natural sciences. This holistic approach ensures that students develop a deep understanding of their chosen field while also gaining a broader perspective on the interconnectedness of STEM disciplines. 

I have touched on it a little but let me expound more on the AUN and our research. AUN places significant emphasis on research and innovation, encouraging students to engage in cutting-edge projects and contribute to the advancement of knowledge. The university provides ample opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty members on research initiatives, participate in conferences, and publish their findings. This hands-on experience not only enhances their understanding of the subject matter but also equips them with the skills necessary to thrive in STEM careers. The institution is one that faculty and student interaction is above that of most of other institutions not just in Nigeria but in all of this West African region.  This type of collaborative work allows the students to learn more about how to work in their future careers.  I cannot tell you how many projects I have witnessed our faculty and students collaborating in just my short five months here.  One small example, our computer science students in programming designed the Enterprise Resource Program (ERP as we call it) for the entire university.   

Allow me also to share another uniqueness of AUN and our commitment to STEM.  AUN recognizes the importance of community engagement in promoting STEM education. The university actively collaborates with local schools, organizations, and government bodies to promote STEM awareness and provide resources to underserved communities. Through the program you are attending today, you can see the universities commitment to helping involve our town, our state and our entire region in education, especially our STEM opportunities.  Through initiatives such as STEM workshops, mentorship programs, and outreach activities, AUN is fostering a culture of innovation and inclusivity, inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders. 

The American University of Nigeria stands as a shining example of excellence in STEM education in the region. Through its state-of-the-art facilities, expert faculty, comprehensive curriculum, research focus, and community engagement, AUN is nurturing a generation of STEM professionals who are equipped to tackle the challenges of the 21st century. As a leader in the field, AUN continues to inspire and empower students to pursue their passions in STEM, paving the way for a brighter future in the region and beyond.

So as I bring this address to a close, let summarize a few points.  STEM Day is not just a one-day celebration; it's a movement that fuels the fire of curiosity, supports diversity, bridges the skills gap, and fosters innovation. By promoting STEM careers, we ensure that our society, and for us in Nigeria, is equipped with the necessary skills and talent to thrive in an ever-evolving world. So, let's embrace the power of STEM Day and inspire the future generation of STEM superheroes who will shape our world for the better.  

Today is a great day to be an AUN stallion, a great day to be a resident of Adamawa and our great country of Nigeria.  May God Bless each of you and in a world where you can be anything you dream, please chose to be kind.