Dr. Bartholomew O. Nnaji, former Federal Minister of Science and Technology for Nigeria and currently Distinguished Professor of Industrial Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke at a special convocation in observance of The Africa Semester at Missouri Southern State College on October 1. The convocation was held at 7:30 p.m. in Webster Auditorium on the Missouri Southern campus.
A leading expert in design, manufacturing, and robotics, Dr. Nnaji's topic was "Harnessing Africa's Potential for Technological/Industrial Advancement: The Challenges, Problems and Prospects."
At the University of Pittsburgh Dr. Nnaji is also Alcoa Foundation Chair in Manufacturing Engineering. He serves as a consultant to the United Nations Development program and the United States Agency for International Development in using technology to develop and expand the economics of many countries.
In 1996 he was appointed to Nigeria's Vision 2010 Committee. In his role as Federal Minister he was responsible for the development of policies for the research institutes and agencies in Nigeria as well as developing industrial development policies.
Dr. Nnaji has received over five million dollars in grants for his research in robotics. He has served as principal investigator on research sponsored by the National Science Foundation, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Digital Equipment Corporation, IBM, and others. He is the author of five books and more than 100 articles in scientific journals.
He is the founding editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Design and Manufacturing and also serves as editor for the design department of Industrial Engineers Transactions on Design and Manufacturing.
Dr. Nnaji received his B.S. in Physics with distinction from St. John's University, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Tech in 1983. He also obtained a certificate of post-doctoral studies in robotics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He joined the department of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1983, and in 1984 he founded the Automation and Robotics Laboratory at the university and became its director. He became a full professor in 1991 and was named Distinguished Professor of Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics.
In 1996 Dr. Nnaji moved to the University of Pittsburgh to become the ALCOA Foundation Endowed Chair in Manufacturing Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Industrial Engineering.
Prof. Nnaji has received numerous professional and academic awards including the 1988 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award by the Society of Manufacturing Engineering and the 1992 Outstanding Young Industrial Engineer Award by the Institute of Industrial Engineers.
In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the African Academy of Arts and Sciences and Technologies. In 1992 he received the United Technologies Outstanding Teacher Award. In 1994 he was elected Fellow of the International Society for Productivity Enhancement. In 1997 he was elected Fellow of Nigerian Academy of Sciences. He was also elected Fellow of the Institute of Industrial Engineers in 1997.
Dr. Nnaji was honored with the U.S. Secretary of State's Distinguished Public Service Award after giving the U.S. Secretary of State's Distinguished Lecture in September, 1995. In 1997 he also received the Nigerian Eagles Society Distinguished Public Service Award. He received an honorary Doctor of Science from the Federal University of Technology, Yola in Nigeria in November, 1997. He was also awarded the Doctor of Science Honoris Causa at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology in May of this year, and he was also elected a Fellow of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers this year.
Prof. Nnaji has served as the chair of the Fourth World conference on Robotics Research organized by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers at Carnegie Mellon University (1991) and has been the founder and general chair of Africa-USA International Conferences on Manufacturing Technology. He served as the International Program Chair on the Fifth World Conference on Robotics Research at MIT in 1994. he also served as chair of the Sensors and Controls for Advanced Manufacturing Conferences organized by the International Society for Optical Engineering (1995, 1996, and 1997).