The University of Rwanda (UR) says it has reached the final touches in drafting curriculum and education systems that will commence the admission and teaching Aeronautics and Aerospace professionals, under the College of Science and Technology.
UR announced that undergraduate level for Aeronautics and Aerospace courses could start the next academic year – 2021/22 after the curriculum and study guides are approved by the competent authorities, Higher Education Council (HEC).
“We already have other mechanical engineering courses, including plant, production and energy engineering, but as years moved, we also decided to specialize by establishing new courses depending on the labour market change. Rwanda has the vision to strengthen aviation sector locally and regionally. So, it’s important to prepare Aeronautics and Aerospace professionals in the upcoming duo courses,” Ignace Gatare, the Principal of College of Science and Technology at UR told KT Press today.
“As the University, the objective is to create solutions for the country that targets to strengthen aviation sector by graduating professionals. The field of Aerospace, airspace, and Aeronautics Engineering is broader. But some of them are regulation of air traffic, flight management, etc,” Gatare added.
He pointed out that to start teaching Aerospace and Aeronautics courses, the UR team had to find partners with experience in the aviation sector to collaborate on designing standard curriculum and study guides.
“These experts are helping us to finalize the curriculum without taking too long, we partnered with Kent State University which has immersive experience in Aerospace, and Aeronautics in finding fundamental lessons and conducting research which is of interest in Rwanda and in the region,” he noted.
In 2018, UR and Kent University located in the United States of America signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Aerospace and Aeronautics courses in Rwanda but, the plan was reportedly hindered by Covid-19 pandemic.
The MoU which is now functioning includes training of lecturers, staff exchange, and students going to the USA for practical training and work on joint projects and vice versa.
The agreement will also include other sectors of education like peace and conflict management, Internet and communication systems, artificial intelligence and military academy, etc.
“So far, we have the draft ready, but it will further be discussed by partners, Kent State University, Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) and other local experts, our target is to see 2021/22 academic year accepted by concerned authorities, it will a basis for admitting first-year students,” Gatare said.
According to Gatare, the Aeronautics and Aerospace courses will start with some necessities that are available in mechanical engineering, but laboratories will also be established in the next 3 years.
“We can’t wait for everything to be available, we shall start with available necessities and build slowly, this will be important to the country’s economy,” he added.
Tuition fees to be discussed
The tuition fees will also be discussed, but after the approval of Aeronautics and Aerospace courses by HEC, the official pointed out that the most important thing is retaining graduates in the country.
“At the moment, we have not prepared a tuition fee plan, but studying these courses abroad is of course more expensive than having it locally. The other benefit is retaining these graduates and having skills, whenever needed, they could go abroad to study and remain there for work,” Gatare said.
According to reports, average tuition fee for Aeronautics and Aerospace courses ranges between $56,000 to $27,300 per year in the United States of America. For Russia which is considered to be the best country in Aeronautics and Aerospace courses; Nizhny Novgorod State Technical University costs $2100 per year, Astrakhan State Technical University the course costs about $2400.
Other Russian Universities for example, Moscow Aviation Institute, students pay $4500, while at the St. Petersburg State University of Civil Aviation the cost is $4000 annually.
“Capacity building is what every country does, teachers and students will be allowed to go abroad for training and internships, but it is important to bring them back. In the agreement with Kent State University, we shall be sending students for internships, and student exchanges in various projects,” Gatare noted.
He pointed out that Kent State University lecturers will be coming to Rwanda, and local lecturers will go to the US as well as students who will go for laboratory visits in the US.
In May 2020, a cabinet meeting approved a draft law establishing the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), signaling yet another step towards promoting advancement in the aviation sector.
By establishing RSA, Rwanda joined a few countries in Africa that have space agencies, including Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe.