ANGOLA - Health & Education
General Manager, Polytechnic Institute of Technology and Sciences (ISPTEC)
Marcílio Manuel dos Santos holds an MEng degree in mechanical engineering with control from the University of Aberdeen, where he also did his PhD in quantum physics. Today, he is the Managing General Director of ISPTEC, a professor, and a researcher in that institution. In 2017, he was the director of a conglomerate of 34 laboratories from ISPTEC, and from 2015-2016 he was working at Academia Sonangol where he helped with the creation of CPD, R&D Scientific Center from Sonangol. During that time, he was also teaching operational research and topics from petroleum engineering and also worked on several projects within Sonangol. He is the author and co-author of several publications in physics and renewable energy. He is attending a postgraduate course at MIT in economics, data science, and policy development.
To help Angola cultivate a fully developed educational system, ISPTEC is focusing more on R&D and international partnerships to boost its offerings.
What has been the evolution of ISPTEC since its founding in 2012?
ISPTEC opened 10 years ago as an initiative developed by Sonangol to create a university of quality in its academic, pedagogical, and administrative processes that includes administrative buildings, laboratories, and a sports complex. In the first year, we had 90 students, and to date we have graduated more than 400. We offer our undergraduates high-quality education in a range of expertise. We aim to develop future professionals and leaders for both the business environment and society as whole, focusing on practical knowledge to be applied in their professional futures. Since, we are a polytechnic university, students learn how to establish a start-up or design a new technology. Most of them have ideas that have a direct impact on society. From 2015-2019, ISPTEC graduates have established 94 start-ups. In terms of research, we maintain interactions with national and international companies that have a presence in the country, mainly within the oil and gas sector. For example, we have scholarships from companies like TotalEnergy, Sonangol, and the Army. Many international companies now target our students, especially those whose expertise are related to IT, where they receive job offers even before having completing their degrees. Finally, we want to strengthen contact with institutions abroad, we are currently collaborating with Brazil, the UK, and US.
The program of studies at ISPTEC is wide and diverse. What are your expansion plans in terms of study programs?
Currently, we have a department of engineering and technology, with courses such as civil, mechanical, IT, chemical, and electrotechnical, industrial production engineering. We also have a department of applied science where we can find courses such as accounting, economy, and business administration. Finally, we have the department of geoscience with courses such as geophysics and petroleum engineering. It is our newest department, and it will see its first graduate students in 2022. We plan to incorporate geology and sustainability engineering, although the course has not been approved yet. We also have a master’s degree in chemical engineering that will be approved soon, as well as oil and gas as well. We have postgraduate courses in industrial maintenance and project management, and renewable energies. All of it is funded by Sonangol, as it is shifting its focus from being an oil and gas company to an energy company. Finally, we are focusing on foreign languages and have created a language center. We are entering the third cycle, and at the end of it, part of the lectures will be in English.
What are the main challenges facing the higher education sector?
We lack more support from the state in order to accelerate our projects. We need to invest in research, given the development and technical research being carried out in other parts of the world. One of the greatest challenges is the lack of financing. We need funding for our faculty members to travel and interact with other experts in their fields. We also fall short of mobility programs especially tailored for local students. We keep telling our professors to make best use of the resources they currently have. Science cannot be developed if you do not have financing, as well as the right mindset and attention. The creation of the National Research Foundation was an important boost for the educational system in Angola. It mainly focuses on addressing the aforementioned challenges of higher education. ISPTEC is currently doing a great job on content and knowledge transfer, but we lack research and development. Our target next year is to have at least 15-20 published SCOPUS type papers regarding high-impact factors. In the next five to six years, we aim to publish 1,000 papers to enter Times Higher Education (THE) World Rankings. We are working on improving many simultaneous areas that will allow us to accomplish the greater goal of having a fully developed educational system in Angola.
By sponsoring our events you are able to best participate in the discussions that matter to you, as well as gain unique networking opportunities.