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Challenges and opportunities in developing STEM curricula for tertiary institutions in Africa: Materials Science and Engineering at AUST-Abuja

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Reception & Poster Session

Tagged Topic

ASEE International Forum

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.16.1 - 21.16.10



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Paper Authors


Kwadwo Osseo-Asare Penn State University

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Kwadwo Osseo-Asare, Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and of Energy and Geo-Environmental Engineering, has been a Penn State faculty member for the last thirty-six years. Prior to this he spent one and a half years as a research metallurgist and project leader with AMAX Extractive Metallurgy Lab (Golden, CO) working on a variety of industrial research projects in hydrometallurgy. Osseo-Asare has made many pioneering contributions to aqueous processing research and technology. He and his coworkers presented the most comprehensive set of aqueous stability diagrams for hydrometallurgical processing (including ammonia and cyanide leaching systems, where they are used in industrial operating manuals). He is a world leader on the interfacial aspects of dissolution and solvent extraction. He and his students made seminal contributions to microemulsion-mediated synthesis of nanoparticles. His research work has been recognized by several awards, including election to the National Academy of Engineering (2004), for “contributions to the fundamental understanding of interfacial phenomena in leaching and solvent extraction”; the Milton E. Wadsworth Extractive Metallurgy Award (2005), Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration (SME), for “notable contributions in the field of hydrometallurgy which have furthered the science and engineering of metallurgical processing”; Penn State’s Faculty Scholar Medal for Engineering (1999), for providing “significant insight into dissolution and precipitation reactions occurring during water processing of metals and ceramic powders, and in chemical-mechanical polishing in the microelectronics industry”; James Douglas Gold Medal (1997), American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), for “research contributions to the fundamental understanding of interfacial phenomena in leaching, solvent extraction, and particle synthesis.”

He has held numerous visiting professorships and fellowships at JSPS Fellow, Kyushu Univ., Japan, Dec. 2011; African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Nigeria, 2008-; Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Faculty of Engineering Sciences, University of Ghana, Jan.-July, 2008; Federal University of Minas Gerais, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Aug.-Dec., 2007; Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, Aug. 2000-July 2001; Institute for Advanced Materials Processing, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan, May-October 1993; Institute of Mining and Mineral Engineering, University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, Sept. 1992-Feb. 1993; Academic Visitor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College, London, U. K., Jan.-June, 1985. Prof. Osseo-Asare has contributed to the following books: K. Osseo-Asare and J. D. Miller, eds., Hydrometallurgy-Research Development and Plant Practice, TMS-AIME, Warrendale, PA, 1982; United Nations, Analysis of Processing Technology for Manganese Nodules, Seabed Minerals Series, Vol. 3, Graham & Trotman, London, 1986 (K.O.A. co-author); K. Osseo-Asare, Aqueous Processing of Materials: Unit Processes with Applications to Hydrometallurgy, Materials Processing, and Environmental Systems, Academic Press/Elsevier, an undergraduate-level textbook, in preparation – draft chapters used at Dept. of Chemical Eng., University of Toronto, Dept. of Materials Sci. and Eng., MIT (; K. Osseo-Asare, Chemical Principles in Aqueous Processing of Materials. Hydrometallurgy, Materials Processing, and Environmental Systems, a graduate-level textbook, in preparation - draft chapters used at UC Berkeley.
From 1998- 2010 he served as Editor-in-Chief, Hydrometallurgy, International Journal of Aqueous Processing. He has served as a member, Visiting Committee, Division of Materials Science and Engineering, Boston University since 2009. He is been an International Associate, National Institute of Science and Technology for Mineral Resources, Water, and Biodiversity, Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, Brazil (INCT Acqua; since 2009. He writes a blog on AqueouSolutions ( Sample postings include the following: If You Educate a Girl, Part IX, Aug. 8, 2011. Minerals as Materials, Materials as Minerals, Part 2, Feb. 1, 2010. Conversations about Mineral Industry Education: Prof. Richard Amankwah of UMaT, Ghana, July 13, 2009. Materials Science and Engineering, or Nothing Else, April 14, 2009. Materials Society of Nigeria, April 5, 2009. African Proverbs—Teaching and Learning Materials Science and Engineering, April 3, 2009. Ghana Materials Industry, Part 4, March 7, 2009. Douglas Fuerstenau: Giant of Minerals/Materials Processing, Dec. 15, 2008. Ghana and South Korea: The Past Does Not Predict the Future? Oct. 17, 2008. Ant Hills: Materials Science and Engineering, Aug. 12, 2008.
Prof. Oseo-Asare recieved his education & training at the University of California (Berkeley), Department of Materials Science and Engineering, B.S. (with Honors, Department Citation for Outstanding Undergraduate Achievement), 1970; M.S., 1972; Ph.D., 1975.

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Victor A Atiemo-Obeng The Dow Chemical Company (Retired)

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Victor A. Atiemo-Obeng, PhD, FAIChE

Victor Atiemo-Obeng is passionate about most effective engineering science research and practice. For the last six months of 2012, Victor served as Director and Interim Country Manager, Ghana for Dow Chemical West Africa LLC. He had retired at the end of January 2012 after nearly 34 years of meritorious service at the rank of Dow Fellow, one of the top 100 technical staff of The Dow Chemical Company, the biggest chemical company in North America. He was on the leadership team of the Engineering & Process Sciences Department of the company’s Core R&D function. He had served on the leadership team of Fluid Mechanics & Mixing discipline within the Research & Engineering Sciences. Victor leveraged his leadership skills and technical expertise to develop and successfully commercialize processes across a wide range of Dow’s businesses. He was the lead process engineer for several multimillion-dollar capital projects that received Dow’s Global Engineering Excellence Awards. He was also a key contributor to the company’s Global Project Methodology and the Scale-up Checklist. During his co-leadership of the Global Mixing Emphasis Team his early course on “Mixer Selection, Scale-up and Design” was developed into the Dow Mixing Manual and Mixing Course.
Victor served for many years on the Executive Council of the North American Mixing Forum (NAMF), a division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). While in that capacity, he was invited to be co-editor as well as contributing author of several chapters of the world-acclaimed “Handbook of Industrial Mixing: Science and Practice” published in 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
In support of Dow’s commitment to achieving a diverse work force, Victor co-created the award-winning Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST) Symposium at Dow to introduce doctoral and post-doctoral scientists from U.S. ethnic minority groups to the wide range of industrial R&D opportunities at Dow.
Invited by the Board on Chemical Sciences and Technology, National Academies, he contributed to the workshop and publication of “Sustainability in the Chemical Industry: Grand Challenges and Research Needs - A Workshop Report (2005). He has also served under the auspices of AAAS as a judge for the US EPA P3: “People, Prosperity and the Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability” in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Victor has been a visiting professor to the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Abuja Nigeria since May of 2011. He has taught courses in Probability, Statistics and Design of Experiments as well as in Materials Process Engineering.
In the late seventies Victor worked as a Research Scientist for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana. He was invited to represent Ghana at the first Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)/United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Meeting of Experts on Chemicals held in Addis Ababa in November 1979.
Victor is a Fellow of AIChE, where he has served as national nominating committee member and as Director and past Chair of the Mid-Michigan local chapter. He remains a member of AIChE, NAMF, the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE), the American Chemical Society (ACS) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE).
Victor’s accomplishments have been have been recognized with the AIChE-NAMF Award for Excellence in Mixing Research and Practice, Dow Technology Centers’ Technology Improvement Award, the Dow Chemical Company’s Michigan Consultants Award for Technical Excellence, AIChE Mid-Michigan section’s Chemical Engineer of the Year, NOBCChE’s Percy Julian Award, The Dow Chemical Company President’s Community Service Award, and The Martin Luther King Jr. Recognition Award.
Victor Atiemo-Obeng joined Dow in 1975 in the Process Development Department of Michigan Operations R&D after obtaining a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He left Dow and went back to his home country of Ghana in 1977, but returned in 1980.

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Challenges and opportunities in developing STEM curricula for tertiary institutions in Africa: Materials Science and Engineering at AUST-Abuja.Recent high GDP growth rates and increasing foreign investment in several African countriessuggest an economic development “take-off”. In recognition of this situation as well as the needto add value to the abundant natural resources, both governments and private entrepreneurs areinvesting in tertiary institutions in Africa focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering andMath (STEM) to provide the needed highly trained personnel to support and sustain economicdevelopment and growth. The core competencies and behaviors to be cultivated in theseinstitutions are what STEM educators worldwide deem crucial for economic competitiveness andjob creation. These include, according to the US National Academies Report, The Engineer of2020 - Visions of Engineering in the New Century, oral and written communications, criticalthinking, analytical and innovative problem solving, practical ingenuity, creativity, agility, teamwork, and an appreciation for life-long learning.In this presentation we highlight the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), aprivate, pan-African, coeducational university located in Abuja, Nigeria. Her mission is to“advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarshipthat will best serve the African continent in the 21st century”. Starting in 2008, graduateprograms at the master’s level have been offered in Computer Science and Engineering,Materials Science & Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Theoretical and Applied Physics, andPure and Applied Mathematics. We discuss in particular opportunities for innovative ideas forthe Material Science & Engineering curriculum. The desire is to ensure a well-roundedgrounding of the students not only in the physical aspects of Materials Science but also thechemical aspects. A further intent is to inspire the students to make things by providing themwith engineering tools and skills to apply their scientific knowledge of materials. We alsodiscuss several challenges including the backgrounds of the students, availability of faculty andthe logistics of the number of courses and the duration of each one.In conclusion we contend that, despite severe challenges for tertiary institutions in Africa, it isimportant to make the most of opportunities to explore and adopt innovative curricula to achievestated academic and national objectives.

Osseo-Asare, K., & Atiemo-Obeng, V. A. (2013, June), Challenges and opportunities in developing STEM curricula for tertiary institutions in Africa: Materials Science and Engineering at AUST-Abuja Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17221

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