He was inducted into office as the first substantive Vice Chancellor of the Accra Technical University (ATU) and has since started introducing a wide range of reforms to improve upon the quality of graduates the institution will produce. All these are in pursuit of excellence, one of his hallmarks.
During his induction, he was described by the Chairman of the Governing Council of the ATU, Prof. Ralph Kingston Asabere as: “a person of great intellect, wide experience and solid background in Ghanaian, African and global educational matters”.
He is also said to be someone who is well abreast of the nitty-gritty of university management and also has impressive and practical understanding of university administration.
Who is Prof. Odai?
Prof. Samuel Nii Odai, a former Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), was born in Tema, where he attended the Twedaase Primary and Middle Schools.
He is a proud old boy of Koforidua Secondary Technical School and comes from the Nii Odai Ayiku Royal Family of Nungua in the Greater Accra Region.
To pursue and build a meaningful career, Professor Odai sojourned to the land of the Orientals, where he studied a one-year diploma course in Chinese at the Beijing Languages University; and then earned a Bachelor’s in Irrigation and Water Conservancy Engineering from the Hohai University in Nanjing, both under a Chinese government scholarship.
From China, Prof. Odai then proceeded to the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in Japan, where he mastered the art of computational hydraulics. He earned his MSc and PhD degrees from the same university on a Japanese Government Scholarship (MOMBUSHO).
Prof. Odai, a professor of Water Resources Engineering, was recruited from Tokyo by the then Vice Chancellor of the KNUST Prof. K. A. Andam of blessed memory in 1999, immediately after his graduation, and joined the Department of Civil Engineering at KNUST as a lecturer. He rose through the ranks to become a full professor in 2012.
As part of his career development, Prof. Odai was awarded a Commonwealth Academic Fellowship at Imperial College London between 2005 and 2006.
It was at Imperial College that he developed the expertise in rainfall-runoff modelling under the mentorship of Prof. Howard Wheater.
With expertise in water resources engineering, Prof. Odai’s works span the areas of Open Channel Hydraulics, Urban Drainage, Flood Management etc. He has researched into several interesting problems and made meaningful discoveries. He developed the Burgers’ Equation Model and the Nonlinear Kinematic-Wave Model for simulating water flow in open channels.
He has over the years supervised some 70 postgraduate students (in Ghana, South Africa and the Netherlands), in addition to over 100 undergraduate students. Prof. Odai has over 100 peer-reviewed journals and conference papers to his credit.
Following a distinguished career, Prof. Odai’s research contributions were rewarded by the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation when he was awarded the National Best Research Scientist Gold Award for water, environment and sanitation in 2011.
At KNUST, Prof. Odai served in several capacities including Examinations Officer of the School of Engineering, manager of the Water Resource and Environmental Sanitation Project.
He eventually rose to the high and prestigious position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology between 2013 and 2016. Prior to that he was the Head of the University’s Quality Assurance and Planning Unit between 2010 and 2014.
As Head of the Quality Assurance and Planning Unit, he introduced the KNUST Summer School Series in 2011 and initiated the “operation internal accreditation” to enhance quality of all programmes. He also led the decentralisation of the Quality Assurance System at KNUST.
His vision for the ATU is working towards transitioning the university from its previous polytechnic status to consolidate its leadership as a premier technical university, offering programmes with high impact on industry and business creation.
His vision will be driven through seven strategic goals, including driving impact-oriented research and innovation for national development, enhancing students’ experience through developing and delivering quality programmes to prepare them for the world of work, and strengthen industrial and community engagement through continuously pursuing joint research and training with impact on industry and society.