Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Grooming Successors in Science, Mathematics and Engineering



(An editorial in the maiden edition of the magazine: The Budding Scientist – Grooming Successors in Science, Mathematics and Engineering.)


As the cycle of life unfolds – with plants dropping off their leaves during winter, insects shedding off their outer cuticular layer to give way for new ones, and other animals, giving birth to their young – so is the immutable process that buffers distortion in the ecosystem. Also, anyone familiar with what happens when a piece of land is cleared will invariably appreciate this natural process. When a piece of forest is cleared and left alone, plants slowly reclaim such area (confirming that nature abhors vacuum). Over time, signs of the clearing disappear and the land becomes forest again. These analogies aptly summarize the word succession, which is, the replacement of one organism by another. 


Every organism goes extinct when there are no successors! Successors are the link between the past and future, and without them, the traits, qualities and peculiarities of the deceased are not carried along. Without them, also, the works of their predecessors are not built upon, and are left to the winds.

One may ask: what have all these talks on succession got to do with science, mathematics and engineering? The truth remains that our nation (Nigeria) is blessed with some of the finest scientists, mathematicians and engineers the world has ever had (although they are yet to win Nobel Prizes in science). Most of these renowned scientists are spread across some of our higher institutions and are fast aging and would soon retire. Some have also retired and some are dead. Worse still, most of these egg-heads failed to replicate themselves. In fact, someone told us that most renowned scientists in Nigeria are wicked and would not want others to take their place, even when they are no more. But how true can this be? On a contrary note, one great Nigerian scientist happily communicated: “I have produced three good professors (scientists) that can take my place when I am finally gone”.

Be that as it may, the truth remains that most of our great Nigerian scientists are aging and would soon hit the retirement age. Yet, most of these men have not replicated themselves. Just as our ecosystem will continually exist, so will our research institutes and other institutions of higher learning. What happens when these scientists are no more? Who steps into their shoes? Even if others take their place, how competent are those that succeed them?

Bridging this gap therefore forms the objective of The Budding Scientist – Grooming Successors in Science, Mathematics and Engineering. This quarterly publication will be offering mentoring services to youths interested in science, mathematics and engineering. We will be bringing views from world-best scientists on how greatness can be achieved in every aspect of science. We shall also be making our content more homely by bringing to your knowledge, information on most of our great Nigerian scientists and their striking contributions. These and more, we hope, will make our effort more impactful.

Imparting the lives and careers of future generations of scientists therefore constitutes one of the objectives of this publication, and this is never achieved by one organization. More so, no landmark project in science has ever been done without collaboration. It is the synergy that drives science in all climes! Even great scientists, who are often being lauded for their individual contributions, did that, not without collaboration. It is with this understanding that the Department of Technology and Science Education in the Federal Ministry of Education (Abuja), has weighed-in in support of this publication.

We should also not forget that no superstructure stands on a faulty foundation. As such, we shall be concentrating our efforts, for now, on secondary schools, before fanning out to tertiary institutions. It also does not mean that students of tertiary institutions will not benefit as well (it might even be more useful to them than those in secondary schools).

This maiden edition, therefore, is a test-run on how far our efforts can lead us (at least, it is no longer in the list of ideas which we had, but never executed). We are still in the process of rolling out befitting packages that will make our brand a must-read for every budding scientist. Meanwhile, if you have ideas or suggestions on how to enrich this brand, please do not hesitate to call me on 08064383985 or send email to chigozieubani@yahoo.com

CHIGOZIE UBANI
Editor, The Budding Scientist
And Chairman, Global Science Development Initiatives