Electrical Engineering – History

The Humble Beginning

The teaching of Engineering in the University of Nigeria, was started in October 1961 by a team of workers from the Netherlands University Foundation for International Cooperation. The bod was entrusted with the major responsibility of developing the Engineering Programme. The first teaching staff in Electrical Engineering was recruited in the 1962/63 academic year and comprised three Lecturers namely, Dr. C. Onianwu recruited from Japan, Dr. M. A. Nwachukwu and Mr. Vander Knaap (a Dutch). The foundation lecturers were highly motivated and committed. They fashioned and developed for the first intake of Electrical Engineering Students at the University of Nigeria an innovative curriculum designed for the needs of a new nation

From the inception, the department of Electrical Engineering was situated at Civil Engineering building but construction of a new departmental building was started in 1965 and completed by 1967, with Dr. M.A.Nwachukwu as the Head of Department and Prof. Veltrop as the Dean of Faculty. As Head, Department of Electrical Engineering, Dr. M.A. Nwachukwu was instrumental in the recruitment of a number of academic personnel namely Prof. M.O. Chijioke, Prof. L.A. Agu and Dr. T.C. Nwodo. Prof. Chijioke was the head of department shortly before the Nigerian-Biafran civil broke out.

In line with the effort to provide rounded engineering education with adequate practical knowledge, in the early 60s, before the civil war broke out, experienced technical staff were employed to handle various laboratory work. Notable among them was Mr. K.C. Onyema who headed the technical section of the department assisted by Mr. Itimi and Mr. P.U. Okafor. A senior technician, Mr. Nkole was also later for the Power and Machines Laboratory.

Disruption and Rebuilding

The civil war disrupted academic activities in the University of Nigeria from July 1967 to January 1970. At the end of the civil war, the academic and technical staffs were saddled in the immediate postwar period with the intractable problem of reconstructing a looted and war-ravaged department. However, the University came fully back to life in the 1970/71 academic year. So did the department. In fact, the Department recorded another landmark achievement when Mr. C.C. Osuagwu obtained the first, first class honours degree in June 1972.

As part of the rebuilding efforts after the war, some expatriate staff such as Mr. Lunt, and staff from India were engaged in the department reconstruction and training. Mr. Lunt who helped in the reconstruction of the Electrical Power and Machines Laboratory. There were also donations of laboratory equipment from Holland, such as Diesel Generators, DC and AC motors among many other laboratory equipment. By 1974, the renovation of the departmental laboratories were virtually completed   However, there was need for more hands in the technical section, Mr. H.A. Mesigo was recruited from England as a result to help in the Power and Machines lab in 1975.The High Voltage Laboratory was relocated from the Power and Machines Lab to the NSOEDO building after the building was completed in 1982.Mr. Soboki recruited from Holland was in charge of the High Voltage laboratory

Rebirth, Start of PG Programme

In the 1975/76 academic year the Department was renamed the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering in recognition of the increasing growth of the Electronics discipline. Subsequently, in 1981, Electrical Engineering and Electronic Engineering became separate Departments, with Electrical Engineering concentrating in the areas of Electromagnetic Field Theory, Electrical Machines, Power Systems, Power Electronics and Automatic Control while Computer Organization, Instrumentation, Communications and Electronic Circuits remained essential supplementary courses.

In the 1983/85 academic year, the Department introduced the postgraduate programme in four specialist areas, namely, Electrical Machines, Power Systems, Power Electronics and Automatic Control systems. Improvement in the quality and number of both students and staff has been growing from year to year resulting in steady improvement of the quality of teaching and research in the Department.

One could regard this period of history of the department as a golden era. There ravages of the civil war was over, then the department gave birth to a brand new department, that is there department of electronics engineering and reached an academic milestone of starting its own post graduate studies. During this period,some graduates of the department who were selected and sent abroad for further academic training came back to join and strengthen the department. Such people included, Dr.M.U.Agu (1981/82 session) and Dr.A. N. Anwah (1985/1986). [earlier on, the department’s first, first class graduate, Mr. C.C.Osuagwu had trained abroad for his PhD and joined the department in 1978, but he subsequently joined the newly created department of electronics, in 1981.] . In addition, there were expatriate academic lecturers in the department (and in fact, throughout the engineering faculty) that gave an air of international centre of excellence. These, expatriates included Mr.G.Panov from Bulgaria (head of department, 1987-1998), Dr . Annan from Ghana and Dr . Karuna Karana from Sri Lanka. Prof.L.A.Agu (HOD, 1974 – 1984) and subsequently, Engr. Dr.G.C.Ejebe (HOD, 1984-1986) headed the department during this period. There were a lot of academic and technical vibrancy in the department.

Another Trying Period

However, this golden era could not last. The ravaging and despoiling of the Nigerian polity that were the hallmark of politics eventually started to have a toll in the academic arena. The harsh economic and most especially political situation in the country made many expatriate lecturers and subsequently some Nigerian lecturers to leave the department in droves. Starting by the latter half of the 1980s to the mid 1990s many lecturers left and only a handful of lecturers were manning the department. These included, Prof. L. A.Agu, Dr.M.U. Agu (HoD, 1988-1992), Dr. A.N Anwah (HoD, 1992 – 1994), Engr. T. C. Madueme (1994 to 1998) and Engr. L. U.Anih (who later became HOD in 2000-2003). This small band of lecturers, together with a dedicated technical staff led by Mr. K.C. Onyema and Mr.P.U.Okafor held the department together during this trying period.

Further difficulties arose when in 1995 the departmental laboratory building that housed the junior lab, control lab, the power electronics lab and the power systems lab burnt down in a fire incident and the equipment and devices used to conduct experiment in the laboratory courses were virtually destroyed. This put the department in a very difficult situation in terms of conducting practical courses. After over ten years, the laboratory was eventually rebuilt by 2009, only for the main departmental building (Prefab) that housed the office of the head, the general office, the fourth year, final year and PG classrooms were destroyed by fire in October 2010. Hence, the department is currently housed in the rebuilt laboratory building and therefore have need for a befitting Departmental Building