Award-winning researcher and teacher, Professor Sylvester Abanteriba is also a donor changing the lives of his students.
When Professor Sylvester Abanteriba arrived at RMIT, he had no idea it was the start of a 28-year-and-counting academic career.
Hailing from Ghana, Professor Abanteriba undertook his engineering studies in Europe and was a successful researcher in engine tribology, the study of friction and wear in engine components. During his eleven years in Germany, he undertook many industry research projects including contract research for multinationals like MAN Diesel, BMW and Volkswagen, his accomplishments include creating landmark engine tribology analysis software so cutting edge it’s still used by engine manufacturers today.
A move to Australia unexpectedly led him to teaching and Professor Abanteriba’s RMIT journey began.
Before I arrived in Australia, I was recommended by executives of Toyota in Japan to work for Toyota Australia, but unfortunately, all their research projects were being completed in Japan at the time. The CEO kindly reached out to his contacts and discovered that RMIT needed a thermodynamics teacher for the remainder of that year.
Voted lecturer of the year by his students, Professor Abanteriba secured a full-time teaching position and dedicated himself to co-developing RMIT’s inaugural double degree, a Bachelor of Engineering (Aerospace Engineering) (Honours)/Bachelor of Business (Management).
Seeing a need for growing the University’s industry connections and opportunities, Professor Abanteriba also founded the innovative RMIT International Industry Experience and Research Program (RIIERP). The program is a partnership between RMIT and 200 global organisations offering students international industry experience through paid internships and postgraduate research grants across Europe, Asia and the USA.
“RIIERP is very close to my heart and I am very proud of what it has achieved for our students. I founded the program in 1992 because I felt, with the emergence of globalisation, it was incumbent upon educational institutions like ours to provide students with the attributes for life and work in a globalised society.”
This attitude extends to Professor Abanteriba’s support of scholarships. A longstanding donor to the University, he is enthusiastic about the difference a donation can make.
I feel passionate about donating to support scholarships, because young people who are keen to learn and acquire the skills to live and work in the community should be given the opportunity to do so, independent of their socio-economic situation.
Though he has accomplished much at RMIT, Professor Abanteriba is most proud of the connections he has made with his students and their achievements.
“It’s wonderful to see my students grow, learn and accomplish so much in their lives. It’s an honour to be on their journey. Throughout the years I have become godfather to many of their children!”
Despite his success, Professor Abanteriba remains humble and focussed on his goal.
“I believe that when one works in an educational institution, one must be cognisant of the fact that any achievements, no matter how great they might be, would be worthless if there is no dividend for the students. I hear from students everyday about how the participation in RIIERP has been a transformative experience for them. For this I am exceedingly proud.”
Acknowledgement of country
RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business. - Artwork created by Louisa Bloomer