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Connecting MIT to Africa

Basil Enwegabra

MIT has shown through its extensive technological breakthroughs and expansive programs that it has no competitor anywhere in the field of innovative technology and scientific research. With its recent high-tech initiatives around the world, from the MIT-Germany program, MIT-Japan program, MIT-France program, MIT-Italy program, MIT-China program, and MIT-India program, to the Cambridge University-MIT alliance and MIT-Singapore alliance, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has finally monopolized technological innovation and scientific research.

In Germany, for example, MIT students, researchers, and engineers have brainstormed a new strategy that could make Lufthansa the leading airline of the 21st century. In India, MIT is building a technologically advanced media laboratory (Media Lab) that could transform and give India a competitive edge in the ongoing global race for technological innovations. At Cambridge University, MIT scientists and students are working hand in hand with their Cambridge counterparts to share the benefits of cutting-edge technological and scientific research.

Although MIT has led the world of technological innovation for decades now, recently the speed with which it is advancing and modernizing has become incredibly high and beyond the grasp of other rivals. From human-centered computing, biotechnology, and nanotechnology, to neuroscience and microphotonics, MIT has dramatized the current race to technological innovation and breakthroughs. Cutting-edge technological transformational vision and challenges have made this top technical university a technological icon. Or how could these innovations in biotechnology, microphotonics, and nanotechnology be explained to the scientific and technological world? What about the ongoing translation of knowledge into dramatic advances in medicine, energy, and materials, all leading to new ways of treating heart attacks, cystic fibrosis, and cancer?

These ongoing discoveries and inventions at MIT are changing the face of future technology forever. For example, nanotechnology advancement has already led to the creation of unique materials and structures that now trigger the race to microscopic nanomachines and microphotonics innovations, optical devices and circuits on the same size scale of computer chips. Microphotonics alone has revolutionized telecommunications, data communications, and computing.

This cutting-edge university also already researches in neuroscience, creating new understanding of brain and mind as well as potentially offering hope for new therapies and cures for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and manic depression. The amazement and surprises developed by its high-tech researchers and scientists have led the Institute to believe that within the next 25 years the development of more sophisticated devices for diagnosis and therapy, such as imaging and virtual surgery, will not only be possible, but also readily and cheaply available to hospitals and medical centers around the world.

With these revolutionary expectations high, MIT’s biomedical engineering is equally undergoing a major ideological change -- that is, from the fusion of engineering with molecular cell biology to pushing the evolution of a new engineering discipline that should be appropriate to tackling the challenges of molecular and genomic medical changes. Also undergoing advanced modernization are MIT’s school of Architecture and Planning, the Sloan School of Management, and School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. The changes have become inevitable, to make them fully ready to play the new role these technological revolutions are expected to impose on MIT.

How to make Africa and Africans benefit from the ongoing revolutions at MIT remains the greatest challenge facing MIT and Africans alike. While some believe that the way to begin making MIT’s technological impact felt in Africa is through distance learning and teaching, others view the creation of an African technological window at MIT the most creative way the ongoing technological and scientific innovations taking place at MIT could also benefit Africa.