Wed, 19 Jan 2022

ADDIS ABABA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- On a random morning, a group of aspiring young university students majoring in electromechanics were visibly immersed in practically analyzing an industrial robotics machinery installed inside the spacious Luban Workshop in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

Among the young tech and mechanical enthusiasts undertaking the practical training was Desalegn Habtamu, a 5th-year electromechanical engineering student at the Addis Ababa Science and Technology University (AASTU).

Habtamu, who aspires to realize his childhood dream of becoming one of the pioneer Ethiopian experts with advanced engagement and excellence in machineries and automotive, has lately set his sight on robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Despite his life-long dedication and enthusiasm, he, however, stressed that lack of dedicated workshop facilities specialized in the field had for years posed a serious challenge hampering his quest for success.

"I have had the chance to practice from various workshops across universities and institutions in different parts of the country, yet none of them were equipped with advanced machinery and technologies," Habtamu told Xinhua recently.

"The situation had highly affected my desire to get first-hand experience of some of the latest advancements and technologies in the sector," he added.

During the past three months, Habtamu and three other fellow students are relishing a glimmer of hope after they were admitted at the Chinese-built Ethiopian Luban Workshop inside the premises of the Ethiopian Technical University (ETU) as part of their internship endeavor ahead of their imminent graduation.

"I have been practicing here for the past close to three months. Over my stay here, I am having a very good experience while getting rare experience, which would have otherwise been hard to find in Ethiopia," he said.

"To be honest, we are very happy and lucky to be here as this is the only modern workshop facility of its kind in our country. Here, we are practicing with the latest Chinese-quality technologies and materials, ultimately we are getting closer to the latest global advancements in the field," Habtamu added.

The workshop was established by the Chinese Tianjin University of Technology and Education under the guidance of the Ministry of Education of China, and commenced operations in April this year.

According to Teshale Berecha, President of ETU, the facility is presently serving as a center of excellence across four major areas that are industrial sensor technology, mechatronics technology, industrial control technology and industrial robotics technology.

It mainly specialized in mechatronics, a combination of different disciplines including mechanical, electrical, information technology, as well as Artificial Intelligence and robotics, it was noted.

"These advanced kinds of machinery were not available in our campus, and most of the demonstrations used to be conducted through simulations and online. Now, we have the instruments and most of our teachers and students are also equipped with advanced technologies and 21st century skills," Berecha told Xinhua.

Noting that the East African country is presently utilizing old-version machineries that are not fully automated and less-accurate, he argued that introducing modern technologies in the mold of the Luban Workshop will improve productivity and facilitate national development.

"This institution is the brain of the TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) center in Ethiopia. It is the capacity building center for the whole nation. Hence, the availability of these state-of-the-art machineries will help the TVET sector a lot," the ETU president said.

Berecha stressed that in addition to the modern functional Luban Workshop facility, the ETU has been also benefiting through continuous support as part of its cooperation with Chinese partners, which includes capacity building of teachers and trainers.

"I would like to say thank you to the people and government of China. We will utilize it and we will multiply this; and, actually, we will benefit a lot from these kinds of facilities," Berecha affirmed.

The facility presently offers a rare practical training opportunity for students of ETU as well as other higher education institutions throughout the East African country.

Tabor Tamiru is another electromechanical engineering student at the AASTU who is now undertaking a three-month internship program at the Luban Workshop.

Having first-hand experience at the facility would help students to gain more technical skill capacity and knowledge, ultimately boosting their confidence in applying their advanced knowledge in their future endeavors, Tabor said.

"Our previous experience is that mostly we learn the theory part. As for the practical part, we could not get access. So, this institute gives us that access, and it will make us fully understand every modern technology," Tamiru said.

"It will make me more competent, it will give me more confidence and it will help me improve my education," he added.

Apart from the state-of-the-art technologies installed inside the facility, the availability of experienced Chinese teachers with modern technological knowhow is also said to be a major boost for students to fully harness the opportunities presented at the workshop.

"As an Ethiopian, I would like to thank China for this valuable support, which helps us get much-needed practical training for free and at any time," Habtamu said.

Ethiopia is among a growing number of African countries where the launch of a Luban Workshop lines up with China's plans to boost vocational skills training for African youths, under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

A number of African countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt have launched world-class Luban Workshops with the aim of providing quality vocational training to local people, the respective countries' youth in particular.

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