Remarks by Ambassador Lynch at Reception in Support of ABET Accreditation for the University of Guyana

Remarks as prepared
Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch
Reception in support of ABET Accreditation for University of Guyana
September 14, 2022

Honorable Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat
Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Paloma Mohamed-Martin,
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Guyana, Dr. Mellissa Ifill,
Chair of Faculty of Engineering and Technology at the University of Guyana, Dr. Norman Munroe
Faculty members and representatives of the University of Guyana
Members of the business community.

Good evening!  It is a pleasure to host this evening’s reception with key stakeholders and industry players on this important and timely subject.

Around two years ago, we started the conversation with University of Guyana colleagues over the importance of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accrediting programs in the University of Guyana’s Faculty of Engineering and Technology.

As a non-profit and non-governmental organization, ABET reviews and certifies college and university programs to assure they meet top-tier global quality standards.  These standards are essential to prepare graduates for critical STEM jobs.

When ABET’s quality standards are applied and promoted around the globe, the results are a better-educated, diverse technical workforce well-prepared to advance innovation and excel professionally in fields of critical importance to society.

Graduates from ABET’s 4,000 programs at 850 institutions in 41 countries have gone on to become leading engineers, professors, CEOs, and political leaders with the necessary knowledge to deliver real change.

I am sure the ABET champions will agree that the ABET accreditation review process is no easy feat.  It takes intensive team effort, that directly involves faculty and staff in self-assessment and continuous quality improvement processes.

I am happy to see Dr. Norman Munroe, a 2019 Fulbright Scholar, who is now serving in a different capacity as part of the University of Guyana faculty, leading this important collaboration. I am particularly pleased to learn of the UG Faculty of Engineering and Technology ABET Committee’s ongoing progress towards realizing ABET accreditation which Dr. Munroe will elaborate on.

I’d like to recognize committee members Dr. Anna Perreria, Ms. Elena Trim, Mr. Anil James, Mr. Sean Sarran, Jana Sarran and Karyl Arthur. The strength of the ABET Committee speaks to the commitment of the University of Guyana’s administration. I would also like to recognize Professor Paloma Mohamed-Martin and Dean Verlyn Klass whose leadership has been, and will continue to be, key in this process.

We are also supporting the team’s work through the Fulbright Specialist program, which provides short-term technical assistance.  Earlier this year, we hosted Fulbright Specialist Dr. Cesar Levy who met with the ABET accreditation team to review course portfolios and self-study supplements. Later this year, we expect another Fulbright Specialist to focus on laboratory maintenance and procedures, establishment of computer labs, and engineering curricula.

While the input of faculty and staff is vital to the process, it is not limited to professionals from academia but actually requires the participation of all of you. The university, the engineering community, employers, government, students, and alumni all have valuable input and perspectives on the needs of today’s and tomorrow’s engineers, whether right here in Guyana or around the world.

Achieving ABET accreditation for UG’s programs will increase opportunities for international employment, establish a graduate’s qualifications for industry positions, and allow Guyana to further unlock the oil industry’s vast opportunities.  From the private sector’s vantage point, most international companies are focused on finding the highest quality employees and, once on board, offer further training and often subsequently deploy them all around the world.

Of course, in Guyana with local content legislation and the oil and related sectors’ fast paced development, it’s possible that companies will want and need to keep more local hires right here in Guyana to fill these impressive employment opportunities.  Even before local content was legislated, we saw U.S. firms preferring to hire qualified locals, but the pool of technically qualified employees was extremely limited.

UG can play a crucial part in helping to solve some of these gaps, and I know several U.S. firms have sent senior representatives to ABET meetings on this topic as well.

But it isn’t just about jobs.  We know that without quality engineers to oversee projects in both the public and private sectors, infrastructure projects of all sizes could be at risk for delays, failure to meet safety and other critical standards, and budget overruns.

Engineering is one of the most important professions in Guyana today and key to ensuring Guyana’s successful transformation, whether that’s delivering lower-cost electricity, better roads, or reliable bridges.  Guyana’s wealth will continue to grow, and delivering on these projects will also help build more equitable access to markets.

ABET accreditation a vital step in ensuring that the people of Guyana will be better prepared to more broadly participate and take advantage of national and regional prosperity.  ABET and the high-quality engineers who study here at UG are key partners who can ensure Guyana’s transformative investments deliver well into the future.

This decade will see Guyana transform from one of the poorest countries in South America to one of the wealthiest, but we also know that without strong engineering oversight, key infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and power plants could be in jeopardy if not built expeditiously and to standard.  If key infrastructure is not delivered or delayed for years, wealth may increase but inequality will persist.

As the University of Guyana prepares to celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, the United States is proud to have been a partner to UG for many years. And, we look forward to many more years of close collaboration.  This evening, we are happy to bring together partners and friends of the university to continue the conversation and call for your support in making ABET accreditation at the University of Guyana a reality.

Congratulations and thank you very much!