‘‘In the meeting between seven universities Institutes of Technology and Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA), the latter has proposed university-industry linkage in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that has detailed activities on research, consultancy services and joint programs to be launched together,’’ said Academic Affairs Vice President, Dr Agena Anjulo.

Dr Agena said this while welcoming the participants in a two-day consultative meeting held at Lecture Theatre, from 29th to 30th April, 2014. AMU is already running two MSc programs in Geo-Technical Engineering and Construction Technology Management, he emphasized, AMU may launch two more ERA-funded programs in coming years.

Appreciating country’s premier road authority, he said, they are serious about the road construction sector to be jointly developed through education and research with universities. They are ready to work with AMU on industry linkage and we are committed to work together in academics to train civil engineers and those who are engaged in ERA Research Centres.

The program got off with the key-note speech by one of the ERA officials. The university-industry linkage 5-month action report was presented by ERA Training Director, Mr Tsega Seboka, followed by the report presentation by Research & Development Director, Alemayehu Ayele on collaboration in Research & Technology Transfer.

Participating seven Institute of Technology (IoTs) i.e. Addis Ababa Institute of Technology, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Bahir Dar University, Ethiopian Institute of Technology-Mekelle, Hawassa Institute of Technology and Jimma Institute of Technology. And each of them, in their presentations related achievements, statistics of ongoing developments, problems being faced by them and sought immediate ERA intervention to move further.

AMU status report presented by Civil Engineering Department head stated as per ERA-AMU pact, on April 2014, AMU was supposed to launch five Master programs i.e. Geotechnical Engineering, Construction Technology Management, Road & Transport Engineering, Structural Engineering and Hydraulic Engineering. But, it could only launch two programs in Geotechnical Engineering and Construction Technology Management due to scarcity of qualified academic staff; Hydraulic Engineering and Environmental Engineering stream didn’t start because of dearth of students.

Thereafter, slew of issues like increasing drop-out, dearth of teaching staff, inadequate infrastructures, students expenses were discussed. ERA in its response stated, students research fund is limited, but it can be supported with possible facilitation i.e. lab facilities, transportation cost etc.

Agreeing to the call for research, ERA official said, ‘‘ERA is ready to do so, but would need commitment from each IoTs for the same. On transfer of tech and research database, ERA has shown its desirability to accept and disseminate technologies and also to support an integrated research database on research topics to keep integrity on thesis work.

Replying to Dr Negash’s query, to make video conferencing an important tool for education, ERA official said, the problem is more pronounced when it come to support their work. On ranking of universities, ERA has laid down the criteria for selection i.e. report submission and quality, sustainability of programs, application of best practices, percentage of dismissal, drop-outs, withdrawals and of involving graduates, etc would be taken into consideration.

A committee involving officials from AMU (Mrs Meselu Abera) and Bahir Dar University (Ms Saba Tekle) would evaluate the overall performance of seven universities keeping aforesaid .criteria in mind and produce a ranking within next month. Next consultative meeting will be hosted by Hawassa Institute of Technology, the Deputy Director General of ERA, Mr Bekele Negussie, informed.

By Philips Joseph