by Sujata K. Bhatia
The global community is increasingly facing critical challenges in healthcare, energy, sustainability, and agriculture. These issues are technologically complex, requiring scientific literacy among politicians, policymakers, and populations in both developed and developing nations. Moreover, these issues demand innovative discoveries, requiring well-trained engineers to both invent creative and cost-effective solutions as well as inform decisionmakers on relevant technical considerations.
In order for solutions to global grand challenges to be practical and lasting, the innovative process leading to these solutions must be inclusive. The voices of scientists and engineers from all nations must be incorporated into inclusive innovation, and the approaches of scientists and engineers from diverse social and cultural backgrounds must be incorporated into engineering inventions. For instance, scientists and engineers from low and middle income countries have the best insights into the needs of these countries, and they can often develop the most elegant designs.
Worldwide, PhD-level scientists and engineers play a crucial role in fostering a climate of inclusive innovation. Doctoral training imparts a student with in-depth knowledge in a particular field of science or engineering. PhD students learn to identify problems and work independently to derive solutions to those problems. A PhD empowers an individual to solve open-ended problems, and enables the trainee to write technical papers and teach undergraduate students, both of which are critical for knowledge generation and knowledge transfer.
Within each nation, PhD-trained scientists and engineers run research groups and teach classes at universities; start companies and develop new products in the private sector; and provide expertise for government officials in the public sector.
A cadre of highly trained, PhD-educated scientists and engineers is therefore necessary for each nation, not only to generate innovative discoveries and to train the next generation of scientist and engineers, but also to train the next generation of congressmen and cabinet ministers, and thereby guarantee scientific literacy among world leaders and throughout the world.
The African continent is currently coping with a massive shortage of highly trained scientists and engineers… Continue reading