Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Ghana’s renowned quiz mistress, will be awarded The 2018 Golden Torch Award for International Academic Leadership at the 44th Annual National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Conference on March 25th in Pittsburgh, USA.

Each year during its annual conference, NSBE Global awards the Golden Torch in a closing extravaganza to honor the highest academic achievers. The convention will begin on March 21st and end on March 25th during which Prof. Kaufmann will be honored at the closing ceremony.

The Golden Torch award is given to a leader and a strong supporter of NSBE international who demonstrates excellence in support of academics on an international level and exhibits commitment to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields.

Dr. Kaufmann, whose work is being recognized by the National Society of Black Engineers worldwide, is the first female recipient of the International Leadership Award. However, this is not the first time a Ghanaian has received recognition from the worldwide fraternity of engineers.

In 2013, Prof. Samuel Yeboah Mensah, the then Dean of the School of Physical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, was adjudged the first male African recipient of the distinguished Academic Excellence Leadership Award for his massive contribution to science especially in the area of engineering by the National Society of Black Engineers at the 39th Convention in Indiana.

In 2014 and 2015, Prof. Innocent Kofi Ampadu; Immediate past Provost, College of Engineering, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Mr. Oman Kabu; Dean of Engineering,  Accra Technical University were the 2nd  and 3rd Africans to receive that same award.

Dr. Elsie Effah Kaufmann is a Senior Lecturer and founding Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Ghana.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE), a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) and a PhD in Bioengineering, all from the University of Pennsylvania, USA. 

After her graduate studies, she received her postdoctoral training at Rutgers University before joining the University of Ghana in 2001.

Dr. Kaufmann’s teaching and research focus on Tissue Engineering, Biomaterials and Application of Biomedical Engineering concepts to the solution of problems in the Ghanaian context.  She was the recipient of the University of Ghana’s Best Teacher Award for the Sciences in 2009.  She is also keenly interested in Science education at all levels and has been the Host/ Quiz Mistress of the Ghana National Science & Mathematics Quiz TV Program since 2006.  Dr. Kaufmann is the 2017 Impact Africa Summit Laureate for Education in Ghana.  The Golden Torch award recognizes her “exceptional and continuous contribution to science education in Ghana and for being a role model and inspiration to many young girls”.

Dr. Kaufmann was a member of the Planning Committee set up by the Academic Board of the University of Ghana to make proposals for establishing the Faculty of Engineering Sciences and was also a member of the three-person Implementation Committee set up by the Vice Chancellor following the submission and adoption of the Planning Committee’s report.  She was appointed as the first Head of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2006. During their first conference in 2017, she was elected as the President of the Ghana Society of Biomedical Engineers (GBSE).

Dr. Kaufmann joined NSBE in 1988 as a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and eventually become the Patron of NSBE University of Ghana, Legon in 2004. According to her, she feels gratified that her work is being appreciated and beneficial to so many people. For her, engineering provided the opportunity to solve real-life problems in practical and creative ways using technical knowledge. The challenge of making a difference in the lives of people with whom she interacts was what motivated into a field less ventured by most women in Ghana.

When probed about her first reaction to the nomination, she replied that she was completely surprised! “I was working in my office when Mr. Billy James Dega showed up to tell me that there is an award NSBE-Ghana wanted to nominate me for. I remember thanking him for considering me after which I asked many questions about the award and deadlines.  He probably regretted coming to my office with the news after the barrage of questions from me. I feel incredibly honored. I am grateful for the opportunity to make an impact. Knowing that what I do makes a positive impact in the lives of people motivates me to work harder and to do even more.”

Founded in 1975, NSBE is America’s leading 501 non-profit, student-governed organization with more than 35,700 active members world-wide. Its mission is to increase the number of culturally responsible Black engineers who excel academically, succeed professionally positively impact the community. NSBE offers its members leadership training, professional development, mentoring opportunities, career placement services and more.



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