In 2014, Ashesi University College committed to add a new engineering major with a goal of achieving gender parity. The program will train and prepare young women to guide engineering solutions that will address some of Africa's most pressing problems. Over the first four years of the program, Ashesi will enroll 300 students, half of which will be women, and will reach over 1,040 high school girls through summer programs and recruitment efforts. In order to achieve gender parity, Ashesi will: design a curriculum intentionally aimed at including the perspective of women; inspire girls in African high schools to pursue careers in science and engineering; fund scholarships for women; and provide the mentorship and counseling necessary to help them succeed in college and in the working world.
An Engineering Advisory Board of academic advisors from top universities in the United States and Canada has been established and Ashesi is working with a Corporate Advisory Council made up of professionals in Ghana. These advisory groups are helping the University develop a world-class engineering program that provides engineers with leadership skills for West African industry and governments, beginning with concentrations in electrical, computer, and mechanical engineering. In addition, Ashesi's Career Services department has connected with industry leaders in Ghana and across Africa to establish corporate partnerships that will provide students with mentorship, internships, and career opportunities to ensure that the students and graduates of the program are able to successfully transition to the workforce.
Ashesi's funding partners, which include USAID, the John P. and Anne Welsh McNulty Foundation, the IDP Foundation, and the Donald and Alice Noble Foundation, will support the launch and implementation of the program until it is operationally self-sustaining after its fourth year.
To achieve Ashesi's CGI commitment, the follow implementation steps will be taken:
May 2015 - Complete construction on budget (.77 million) and on time.
May 2015 - Complete development of engineering curriculum.
July 2015 - Hire key engineering faculty with a mix of male and female representation.
September 2015 - Launch engineering program and begin classes. Recruit first cohort of 75 students, half of which will be women.
September 2016 - Recruit second cohort of 75 students, half of which will be women.
September 2017 - Recruit third cohort of 75 students, half of which will be women.
September 2018 - Recruit fourth cohort of 75 students, half of which will be women.
Annually - Reach over 200 women a year through targeted admission outreach; travel across Africa each winter/spring to recruit bright young Africans to the program; hold summer programs in August, which will include the annual Ashesi Innovation Experience (AIX) and an engineering component, for high school students from across the region at Ashesi's campus.
Ongoing - Ashesi is committed to supporting diversity on campus and will continue to support a financial aid program that will provide grants to students in need and even during the start-up period. In addition, Ashesi will develop research, consultancy, and partnership opportunities with local industry, government, and NGOs.
Ashesi was founded in 2002 to address Africa's biggest roadblocks to progress: the need for ethical leadership and innovative thinking. Africa needs leaders who are skilled problem solvers and have the ethical principles to guide them towards actions that are good for society. It is commonly known that Africa's education systems, which often emphasize memorization and lack a focus on ethics, are failing to nurture the kinds of leaders who can build a brighter future. In addition, women are underrepresented in leadership positions in government, business, academia, and the social sector. The major barrier standing between women and these positions of leadership is access to education.
Ashesi seeks to contribute towards an African renaissance by educating a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. Ashesi's liberal arts program with majors in business, computer science, and Management Information Systems (MIS) is educating young Africans with the multi-disciplinary skillset and social awareness needed to find creative solutions to tough problems. Today, Ashesi is widely recognized as one of the top universities in Ghana. Students come from over 15 African nations and represent diverse economic, ethnic, religious, and national groups. Women make up half of the student body, and 40 percent of students receive need-based financial aid. Every year, 100 percent of Ashesi graduates are placed in jobs or graduate programs within six months of graduation, and 95 percent stay in Africa to launch their careers.
Now that the University's core programs are operationally self-sustaining, Ashesi is working to add a new engineering major. Africa needs better designed infrastructure and new and affordable products that meet local needs. Ashesi's groundbreaking engineering major will emphasis design, problem solving, and entrepreneurship. It will help redefine engineering education in Africa and drive the important innovations that Africa needs. The recruitment of women will be a central focus of the program.
In order to complete the commitment, Ashesi seeks additional funding partners to help cover start-up costs and provide scholarships for talented and young African women. The University will also work to establish academic partners to help strengthen the curriculum, connect students and faculty to new ideas and exciting global trends, and form faculty and student exchanges to engage diverse perspectives. In addition, Ashesi will seek corporate partners to help provide internships, mentorship, and counseling necessary to help students succeed in college and in the workforce.
Ashesi aims to raise $11.22 million to support construction, startup costs, and scholarships for talented young African women. To date, Ashesi has raised $4.8 million.
Ashesi's engineering program will impact the lives of thousands of students over time, which will help economies grow and improve lives. By achieving gender parity, Ashesi will identify best practices for curriculum and recruit administrators and faculty to nurture women engineering students. The University will share information on its innovative curriculum with educators interested in learning from its model. Ashesi envisions that its unique curriculum model will make an important contribution to undergraduate engineering education in Africa.