6 May, 2020

Head of Engineering Department and Principle Investigator of the Project, Dr Grivin Chipula
The Agricultural Engineering Department (AGE) at LUANAR has been awarded a grant under the Higher Education Partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa (HEP SSA) amounting to approximately £200, 000 for a project entitled “Establishing and strengthening engineering academia-industry partnerships in Malawi to enhance sustainable agricultural production and economic development”. This is a two-year long project that started in 2019 and will end in 2021 and aims at building and strengthening academia and industrial partnership in Malawi.

The project will see engineering academic members of staff from the Agricultural Engineering Department at Bunda College of Agriculture and NRC campus sent on industrial attachments that will enhance registration as Professional Engineers with the Malawi Board of Engineers. The HEPSSA funded project has drawn partnerships from Cranfield University (UK), Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania). Locally, the Hub-Spoke modelled project is working with the Polytechnic (University of Malawi), Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) and Mzuzu University (Mzuni). The project will partner local industrial organisations including the Department of Irrigation, Concern Worldwide (PROSPER), Orifice Irrigation and Water Supply Limited, and Lilongwe Water Board.

The Project seeks to achieve the following: 1) enhance academia-industry partnerships by strengthening existing collaborations and creating new ones with industry partners; 2) equip engineering academics with relevant industrial skills that would enhance and enrich their teaching capabilities; 3) directly share the knowledge of innovation and industrial skills to students through involvement of relevant professional engineers in the delivery of training programs; 4) review Agricultural and Irrigation Engineering BSc curricula; and 5) develop a new curriculum for a BSc degree program in Environmental and Sanitation Engineering.

Through the project, the AGE will procure teaching and learning materials that will include student computers, projectors and drones. The project will also engage professional registered engineers to mentor engineering students. It will also promote engineering academic staff exchange with Cranfield University through a North-South staff exchange programme.

These initiatives are expected to 1) enhance productivity in local agro-industries; 2) increase availability of skilled agricultural and irrigation engineers; 3) increase the number of industrial staff participating in applied research; 4) increase the number of engineering academics participating in national agricultural and irrigation engineering projects, research and consultancies; 5) increase the number of high impact research publications; 6) improve regional and international ranking of the university; 7) increase involvement of the university in policy guidance and/or review based on adaptive research results; and 8) increase networking and collaboration opportunities between the local universities and the industry.