…pledges $1.5M annually to assist engineering students
THE University of Guyana (UG) and the Power Producers and Distributors Incorporated (PPDI) have formalised years of partnership with the signing of an Academic Collaboration Agreement.
As part of the agreement, the power company among other things has committed to donate $1.5M annually to assist final-year engineering students with their research and projects. The first cheque was handed over on Wednesday at the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Turkeyen Campus, by PPDI Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Arron Fraser to the university’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic Engagement), Professor Michael Scott, following the signing of the agreement.
The Academic Collaboration Agreement provides for five baccalaureate engineering students to undergo 10 months of industrial training at the PPDI on a yearly basis. Additionally, under the agreement, UG will collaborate with the power company to design special engineering courses. The power company will also make available its laboratory facilities for use by the university, once adequate notice is given.
During the simple signing ceremony, Dr. Fraser said the partnership between the power company, which was formally managed by Wärtsilä Operations Guyana Inc., and the university has existed for more than eight years, though informally. The PPDI Director said the power company understands the importance of industrial attachment for the university students, and is pleased to acculturate them into the world of work.
“This morning signals our commitment to the development of a Guyanese institution which has been a repository for us over the years. Sixty per cent of our management staff would have graced the rooms at UG, and for that we are grateful,” Dr. Fraser said.
He also made a pitch for all the programmes to be accredited by the major accredited bodies. “It gives students, regionally and extra-regionally an option….once the accreditations are there, there is no doubt about the quality.
Professor Scott said that there is “advantage in collaboration” as he applauded the move by both parties to concretise the partnership. He said Academic Collaboration Agreements are not “wishful” statements, explaining that they act as formal guides.
“I must express appreciation on behalf of the university for your incentives, investments and I dare say, your invaluable inputs in the lives of our students beyond what would be considered attachment. Because the idea is to cultivate character, to ensure discipline to give them the kind of skills and professionalism is beyond the classroom. To have a sense of what happens in the workplace is something that cannot be counted in terms of dollars and cents, and so for that I also want to express our appreciation,” Professor Scott said.
In response to the concern about accreditation, Professor Scott said it is a work in progress.
Government Member of Parliament and the university’s Academic Engagement Officer (External Engagement), Audwin Rutherford, said students who have benefitted from industrial training at PPDI in the past have given good reports. However, he asked the power company to consider fully sponsoring students in the future.
“I want to put a pitch for them, that you examine their work carefully, and the possibility must exist for you to maybe fully sponsor some after their associate degree, because some of these students would have economic challenges and some may want to stop because of those challenges; so I don’t want to encourage you to just take them, but try to see how you can extend sponsorship to them to complete their degrees,” Rutherford implored.
In response, Dr. Fraser noted that PPDI has a scholarship programme in place which is open to internal staff, explaining that five scholarships are offered yearly. He noted that if the five scholarships are not utilised by staff, such would be made available to students who are most in need.