By Kareem Shamusudeen
This is what Nwachukwu Emmanuel is passionate about. It is his love for this field that eased his transition into the labour market immediately after school. Emmanuel is the best graduating student at the Faculty of Technology, UI, for the 2018/2019 academic session. Emmanuel’s academic feat is not coincidental, it is a deliberate, thorough process to achieve the best almost seamlessly. But what this the case? Yes. There were some ups and downs, yet Emmanuel drove through the obstacles, crushed barricades, till he got to his final lap. But he knows this isn’t the end. That’s why he’s bent on achieving the best even after school.
In this exclusive interview with UCJ UI’s Editor-in-Chief, Kareem Shamusudeen, Emmanuel shares insights from his success world. For those who want to achieve better than he had, he has a few words too—“Start early…”
UCJ UI: Tell us about yourself.
Emmanuel: This feels like those numerous internship interviews over again.
Okay, I am a first-class mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Ibadan who is excited about impact and process optimization. I currently enjoy a scholarship from the Nigerian University of Technology and Management, and I juggle that with my job as a QA automation engineer for the Trilogy group.
UCJ UI: Can you tell us about your academic background?
Emmanuel: Okay, you mean at the tertiary level?
UCJ UI: At all levels.
Emmanuel: Oh, okay.
Well, I attended a number of Primary schools. My dad, as an Anglican Revered, had these transfers that implied school change most times.
What was consistent about these different schools though was my focus and love for learning. I came first each time and graduated from the class as the best overall. In my Secondary school- Command Secondary School Suleja- I maintained the tempo and finished as best overall in my graduating class.
UI was different, it was significantly more demanding. However, I leveraged collaboration and scaled through.
UCJ UI:You graduated as the Best student in the Faculty of Technology for 2018/2019 session. Feat like this, I believe, is not coincidental. How did you make this possible?
Emmanuel: I think an important part of my finishing as the Best in my faculty was starting with the end in mind. I wanted to finish as best as I possibly could. So, I practically spent the first semester immersing myself in the system and understanding what was needed of me. My GPA that semester was 6.9 and just one mark shy of a perfect GPA. That sacrifice and what it birthed reinforced my resolve.
So, I started with the end in mind, practiced delayed gratification, created an atmosphere of knowledge sharing in my class, and, above all, trusted the process.
UCJ UI: There’s this common saying that students who study Technology courses in varsities, especially the University of Ibadan only consume theorised knowledge. As a graduate of Mechanical Engineering, what’s your take on this?
Emmanuel: I interned with the Mechanical team of Shell Petroleum Development Company, and it was very easy to understand how machines and engineering processes worked because I had a theoretical background. So, this “theoretical knowledge” actually makes the experiential part of the process easy.
No matter, I totally agree that it would be great if graduates do not have to wait until they get jobs or internships to interact with machines and engineering processes. It puts us at a disadvantage on the global stage.
UCJ UI: What are your aspirations? Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Emmanuel: Well, I like to build. So, I am certain that in the next few years, I would have built a solution that centered around gas processing and storage optimization. I believe that the large gas reserve of Nigeria can be leveraged alongside tech solutions to give the economy a facelift.
UCJ UI: You were once part of the Hult Prize Team in UI and you still had excellent results. Most first-class students are only aggressive towards academic pursuits, with almost no regard for extra-curricular activities. But you deliciously blended academic activities with thorough extracurricular activities and graduated as the Best. What did you do differently?
Emmanuel: I still think I managed that because I started building my grades from the get-go. I dedicated my first two years to my academics and got heavily involved in extracurricular from my third year.
Of course, discipline and time management were also integral to the process.
UCJ UI:: It is said that there’s no smooth path to success. I’d like to know if you had some discouraging events while in school.
Emmanuel: Oh sure! Let’s just say that there are times that you put in the work for some courses, read all there is to read, sacrifice sleep, write your exam brilliantly, and still end up getting very unfamiliar and unsavory scores. This was my reality on a number of occasions.
I would often speak to the course instructors in such situations, gain a form of closure (which rarely happens), take their feedback, and go again.
UCJ UI: You’re a Graduate Member of the Nigerian Society of Engineering. What are your expectations?
Emmanuel: I already got a logbook from the body to document my engineering experience in the coming years. So I am looking forward to that. I also hope that I can integrate my vision for Nigeria with the body. Finally, I am excited about meeting and collaborating with other Graduate members to build solutions for Nigeria and Africa.
UCJ UI: Technological infrastructures in Nigeria are below par, you’ll agree. What do you think needs to be done to salvage this predicament?
Emmanuel: I think policies are the core of what needs to be done. I could make a case for creating an educational system that encourages innovation and is in line with the global technological trend. However, I believe priority should be given to making policies that create an enabling environment for this kind of educational system and an opportunity for products of such an education to implement their solutions.
UCJ UI: Your earlier responses revealed you’re now in the labour market. What do you think hastened your employment status while other graduates are still hustling for means of livelihood?
Emmanuel: Technology! Nothing more. My job is remote and I recall some of my uncles saying it is not a “real” job. I think a lot of young people have this bias as well. So, I will say that I was ready to explore the possibilities of technology and a willingness to break stereotypes.
UCJ UI: What’s the best gift UI gave to you, if any?
Emmanuel: The rich network of highly driven, selfless, and well-rounded individuals. That, for me, is the greatest gift UI gave me.
UCJ UI: I’m aware you won some awards while in UI. What are they?
Emmanuel: JCI’s Most Oustanding Student in Academics was an exciting one for me on the academic front. I was awarded for my sustained academic excellence. I was also the football coach of my department and won three trophies in my time as a coach.
UCJ UI: For you, is it Technology or nothing?
Emmanuel: I see technology as a means to an end. So, no matter where I find myself, I will certainly harness technology to improve operational efficiency.
UCJ UI: What do you have to say to undergraduates who want to achieve a similar academic feat as yours and possibly better?
Emmanuel: Start early, be intentional, be self-aware, share your knowledge, and trust your process.