Project Closing Ceremony – 24/07/18

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As our time in Rwanda comes to a close, we think it is important to reflect on the milestones we have reached and the goals that we have achieved over the past four weeks. 

On leaving Scotland, the team was aiming to surpass the 1000 children visited in 2017 and leave a lasting framework for the FutureYou society at the University of Rwanda. 

Four weeks later, we are attending the closing ceremony of the project, led by Professor Phil Cotton, Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda and attended by many members from across the University faculty. We are reminded of the great times we have had throughout the project and are also incredibly proud to reveal that over our time, we managed to visit a total of over 1,300 school children spread amongst 8 schools (including the school we were asked to return to)- a huge achievement! Both the Glasgow and Rwandan teams also worked collaboratively to ensure that FutureYou was left with a full committee including a President, Secretary and a Treasurer, successfully fulfilling both goals that the team set out to achieve. 

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The ceremony was concluded with a very constructive discussion about the future of the project in Rwanda and eventual goals for growing the project to wider East Africa. The faculty members present were also very interested in how they could personally assist the outreach work of FutureYou and some very promising connections were made in regards to progression over the following year.

Following this, Professor Cotton asked the team to summarise in a few words what they felt they had gained from the project- some of these responses have been included below.

‘I feel one step ahead of my peers for when I start university…I know the campus much better too!’ – Lydie- High School Graduate

‘The industry visits widened my horizons regarding career prospects’- Janet- High School Graduate

‘It was exciting explaining to the girls that you are the one to be innovative. You can design the future energy and power of Rwanda’ – Safia – Electrical Engineering Student

‘It was really inspiring to see how the kids engaged and how many questions they asked during the workshops’ – Hope – Aeronautical Engineering Student

 

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Akagera National Park – 22/07/18

The team got off to an early start on our last Sunday together as we set off for our safari adventure at Akagera National Park. For most of the group, it was their first time on an African safari, and it was a pleasure to experience this as a whole team.

Our bus driver, Gratien, led the way through Akagera as we learned about the park from our on-board guide. Despite being warned beforehand that lion and elephant sightings were rare, we were unbelievably fortunate to come within 10 metres of an elephant followed by getting as close as we wanted to come to 3 lions. We watched in awe as the elephant followed our bus and disappeared into the bushes – a once in a lifetime experience. The guide also informed us that lion sightings are so rare and he was just as excited as us to come so close to the beautiful animals.

After a quick lunch stop at “Hippo Lake”, we watched zebras, giraffes and antelopes in their natural habitat. Other animals we seen included crocodiles, warthogs, topi, storks and buffalo. The 6 hour excitement-filled safari was exhausting for the team, majority of whom fell asleep on the return journey. 

The safari was an unforgettable day for all. 

Visits to STRAWTEC and Skat – 20/07/18

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The team headed off on their second industrial visit of the project to the company STRAWTEC building solutions. STRAWTEC provide affordable, eco friendly, high performance wall systems using a core made from compressed agricultural materials.

The team was given the opportunity to observe the production line from straw to panel, followed by a demonstration of the panel’s fire resistant properties. Finally, we saw a model room completely built by the straw panels.

Following the factory tour, the leaders spoke to the teams about internship opportunities at the company. The leader of the 2017 Rwanda Team, Olga, is interning with STRAWTEC this summer and had a key role in setting up a connection between them and FemEng in Rwanda. The team really enjoyed the visit and hope that STRAWTEC will be keen to welcome FemEng back for another tour next year!

 

 

After a quick stop for lunch the teams went to visit Skat. Skat Consulting Ltd. is an independent Swiss consulting company and resource centre working in the fields of development cooperation and humanitarian aid. Their work in Rwanda includes the extraction and production of clay bricks which are then used to build affordable homes.

The first stop was in the marshlands of Rugende, where we saw clay being extracted and then carried to the factory where processed and fired in the kiln. We learnt how the bricks are processed in a environmentally friendly manner.

 

 

The second stop was “The 8 Million House” in Gikondo. This “Swiss Cube” is a demonstration of a house which has optimised architecture, simple in shape, elegant in appearance and made of high quality materials. Additionally, it costs only 8 million rwf (approx. £7000) to build!

The final stop for the team was at the Skat housing project in Mpazi. The project is another demonstration of the style of affordable houses that can be build in the area. Skat aim to convert the concrete built, older houses in rural Kigali into safer, affordable, brick built housing.

The FemEng in Rwanda team had a wonderful time visiting both STRAWTEC and Skat and were very grateful to be given the opportunity to see such innovative solutions for affordable housing in Rwanda.

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“Future You” preparations and Mount Kigali hike – 18/07/18

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In the morning the team worked together to further set up the Rwandan Team’s “Future You” society. The society aims to continue to build upon the work carried out by the FemEng in Rwanda Project after the Glasgow team leave Rwanda at the end of the month. The session was successful with committee positions being appointed such as President, Secretary and Treasurer and a discussion about what the committee aim to achieve in the next year.

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In the afternoon the team embarked on a hike up Mount Kigali. The picturesque views throughout provided a beautiful panorama over the whole of Kigali. The team would agree it was definitely worth the cardio. We were even lucky enough to watch the sunset before heading back down. 

A productive morning ended with a refreshing walk. It was a beautiful end to a great day. 

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Cover letter writing and job application guidance workshop – 17/07/18

Tuesday was a productive day for the team as Paula gave everyone a talk on how to write a cover letter. Both the Glasgow and Rwanda girls benefited from hearing Paula’s various cover letters for different jobs as well as her experience writing them. It was an important lesson for everyone especially as some of the Rwandan and Glasgow team are hoping to apply for jobs and internships in the coming months. 

It was an exciting lunch as Hope – one of the Glasgow team – turned 21. To celebrate everyone had organised a small surprise party with balloons, banners and a cake! 

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Full of cake, attention turned to further setting up the Future You society in Rwanda. Kirsty and Morgan reminded everyone of the various positions and the Rwandan team begun electing members and establishing a basic structure. This is all in preparation for the first Future You meeting that will take place on Wednesday. 

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Kigali Christian School and Richard Kandt Museum – 16/07/18

After a well deserved weekend off, the FemEng in Rwanda team made a return visit to Kigali Christian School; having been invited back by senior teachers who had previously enjoyed our workshops with the senior 5 and 6s. This time the teams were working with younger students, with the aim of engaging them in STEM, before making subject choices.

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The pupils showed enthusiasm for all workshops, however many demonstrated a particular interest in civil engineering. The Civil team were very impressed at the range of structures built during “the straw tower challenge”.

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Following our school visit, the team travelled to the Richard Kandt museum. Richard Kandt, appointed Resident of Rwanda in 1908 is still well respected in Rwanda today, having founded the city of Kigali. On arrival the team met with a tour guide who took us around the grounds. The teams learnt about life in Rwanda before and during the Belgian colonisation.

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Afterwards, both teams enjoyed a trip through the snake house outside the museum. It was beneficial for the team to gain more knowledge and understanding of Rwanda’s history and allowed us to further appreciate the culture we are surrounded by.

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Interim project reflection, future planning and ES Nyamirambo – 11/07/18 and 12/07/18

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We’re officially past halfway! After a team breakfast in the morning, the group moved back indoors and split into their relative disciplines in order to assess the progress the team had made so far and plan how best to focus their efforts over the remaining half of the project. Many good points were presented by each discipline, with a particular focus on how to ensure the success of the project in the months following the departure of the Glasgow team.

Subsequently, the rest of the day was spent working on FutureYou – a society set up by the Rwandan team members in order to use the momentum created by the project to continue the outreach work and provide a meeting place for female engineers at the University of Rwanda. Both teams are very passionate about this aspect of the project and anticipate spending many more afternoons working on it.

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13/07/18

The beginning of the day was dedicated to showing the Rwandan team members how to start up their own society, fulfilling our aim of leaving a legacy of the project.

This was demonstrated through a powerpoint, presented by Kirsty and Morgan; the future President and Secretary of the FemEng committee 2018/19. They highlighted the different roles necessary in a society and the need for support amongst university staff. Afterwards, the Rwandan team members were given the opportunity to ask any questions of their own.

After lunch both teams set off for another school visit to ES Nyamirambo where they spoke to over 150 high school children. In this school, it quickly became apparent that the children were particularly interested in science. After speaking with the girls, we witnessed them discover a more salient interest in engineering, as they realised it could be viewed as a physical application of the sciences they were interested in.

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With additional knowledge since our recent visit to Zipline, the aeronautical team where able to engage the children further showing the job prospects for aeronautical engineers here in Rwanda. The mechanical team showed pictures of the finished UGR racecar. The children were highly impressed that this was a completely student run project and left the room inspired and with their minds open to the world of engineering.

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Presidents Palace Art Museum and Star School Visit – 11/07/18

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On Wednesday, the team decided to take advantage of some spare time before a visit to Star Schools. The Rwandan team took us a cultural spot in Kigali – An art centre which was formerly the presidents palace.  The centre displayed beautiful art pieces which all contributed to Rwandan culture and the country’s past.

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Following the art centre, we visited our 7thschool of the trip.  The team engaged around 250 school pupils, this brings our total to over 1000 Rwandan High school students reached during our time in Rwanda! The large number of student kept the team busy during our visit, asking lots of questions and being enthusiastic when completing workshops. Overall it was a brilliant visit with positive feedback, the team are looking forward to talking to more school pupils!

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Trip to Zipline and Group Scolaire Notre Dame De Lourdes – 10/07/18

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The team had our first industrial visit today to a company called Zipline, everyone was very intrigued especially the Aeronautical engineers as they have been basing their workshop on Zipline’s work.

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Zipline are a Rwandan based company who donate blood to rural hospitals by the use of drones. They established themselves in Rwanda in 2015 with their headquarters based in California USA. The drones have a battery life of two hours with distances ranging from 60km to 80km dependant on the drone in use. Whilst visiting we were lucky enough to witness two drones launching and returning to base, the set-up of blood for the drones and how the flight operator tracks the drone during its journey.

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This was a very exciting and innovative use of various engineering disciplines which all the team could relate to. We were able to talk to the recruitment officer about the process of applying to Zipline alongside speaking to a summer intern who had been working for the company for the last two months before returning to her studies at Michigan State University. It was apparent the team were very keen to research the opportunities Zipline offered and could not have been more grateful for such an incredible opportunity.

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The second half of the day consisted of visiting students from ‘Group Scolaire Notre Dame De Lourdes’ this was only female students so for the project it was our target audience. The workshops were well received by all and many students left their contact details to keep updated with the FemEng in Rwanda project.

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College Amis des Enfants – 9/07/2018

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After breakfast the girls arrived at College Amis des Enfants where they would be seeing over a 100 students from various different age groups.  It is always exciting for the team to be able to encourage pupils towards a career in STEM. Many of the pupils had not heard of the majority of engineering disciplines or considered the career prospects that could follow. All workshops where extremely busy with straw towers being constructed and x-rays examined. The Rwandan team explained the different combinations of subjects that pupils should choose in order to study engineering as well as talking about their experience at the University of Rwanda.

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The rest of the day was full of CV workshops for the Rwandan team who had been busy working on them in their own time. The Glasgow team were able to offer their own as examples and answer any of the girls questions. This exercise was beneficial for both the Rwandan team and younger Glasgow team members. 

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