Nigerian 27-Year-old First-Class graduate, Augustine Sonde has explain in an interview why he pursued Bachelor of Science (BSC) programme from University Of Ibadan despite having ND, HND at Mahood Abiola Polytechnic (MAPOLY).
Imo-State born Augustine Sonde recently bagged First Class in Civil Engineering from the University of Ibadan. In this interview by DAMILOLA ROLEOLA.
AFTER what could be termed an untiring quest for success, how do you feel to have not only achieved a first class but also maintain it in three consecutive programmes?
It feels refreshing and it has enabled me to say thank you to my mother for all she had suffered for to get me to school. You know, I can remember when we were poor and she would carry firewood just to ensure our survival. She did it alone.
What is the secret formula to becoming Sonde Augustine and achieving these great academic successes?
I will attribute it to one thing my mother always tells me, which is to do my best. There are times when I wrote examinations and didn’t perform well as expected, she would say you did your best. So, I have always put in my best in all I do and it always comes out successful.
What informed your decision to pursue university education after completing your ND and HND programme?
What actually informed that was the dichotomy between HND and B.Sc. degree in the society and in the civil engineering profession. It’s easier for a B.Sc. holder to get certified after three years but as an HND holder, you have to go through post graduate diploma and have some work experience before you get your certification. Also, I didn’t want to play second fiddle to anyone because I am a polytechnic graduate. In addition, there were my parents; they love education even though my dad wasn’t educated.
Did you not feel left behind by your colleagues and contemporaries who went to serve their fatherland after their polytechnic days and have moved on to other endeavours?
I had my youth service in 2017 before going for my B.Sc. I had actually applied when I was serving.
As someone who has successfully gone through both, would you say there’s a difference between university and polytechnic education particularly as it relates to civil engineering?
What I will say is there is actually a difference because University of Ibadan (UI) has this particular standard. In UI, we go beyond the textbook in civil engineering; we did problem-solving, unlike the polytechnic with restrictions to the textbooks. Besides, polytechnics, so to say, don’t really have enough equipment for the course.
In what ways did polytechnic education prepare you for your experience in the university?
It was like a stepping stone for me and it gave me a basic understanding to build on.
There’s a popular view that Nigerian civil engineers are really not meeting up with expectations and the fact that foreign contractors are employed to build facilities in the country is evidence. What do you have to say about this?
What I have to say is that it depends on personality. For instance, I was engaged in the corporate world even before I finished my B.Sc. So I wouldn’t want us to make a generalisation concerning civil engineers or first class in civil engineering not meeting up with expectations.
There’s been an increase in the spate of building collapse in the country. Do you think present day civil engineers are not taught enough?
Well, I would say that concerning the spate of building collapse, the government and society have really not done enough because many of the so called engineers that carry out these designs are not certified. However, they give the drawings to engineers that are fully certified to stamp. Most times, these engineers don’t go through it before putting their stamps. Also, government regulatory agencies don’t go back to check the approved plans. In addition, materials too are substandard.
How then do you think government can forestall occurrences of building collapse?
After the approval stage, the relevant government agencies should go to those sites to ensure that the approved plans are being followed.
Tell us Augustine, what difference will one additional first class civil engineer make in salvaging the way civil engineers are perceived in Nigeria?
My flexibility and adaptability. Codes, software, standard of practice are evolving so as to produce better designs. Lot of designers are not adaptive to these changes and would stick to old ways, giving rise to excessive designs and wastages. As a young engineer, I will incorporate the use of computer programmes software to minimise wastes, and ensure that the most economical sections that satisfy safety requirements are employed at all times, thereby, giving clients highest possible value for their money.
In your view, what is the greatest hindrance to realising a Nigeria with world class civil engineers?
The curriculum does not reflect the desire for world class engineering. Now, we have advancement in designs. Construction materials, sites for construction. Then methods of construction are fast changing, whereas, examples and concept being taught in classrooms are not a reflection of the changes.
What’s next Augustine?
I have three plans. The first thing is to get a scholarship and go for my Masters degree abroad. But if I don’t get the scholarship, I would work for not less than two years to get the necessary experience before going for a masters degree in Nigeria.
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