It is with great tiredness I write this but today was too impressive not to blog about!
As the person responsible for the project, I feel so proud to see when it works out as I had planned. I’m completely blown away with how quickly we have progressed from not knowing anyone in Rwanda to creating comprehensive workshop plans with young women of a range of ages and backgrounds from this country. We had the most girls helping today than we have had yet, with 7 campus girls and 7 highschool girls, and everyone participated really well. The more practical aspects of the workshops had to be figured out with materials we bought last night – which was definitely harder for some groups than others – but by the end of the day we had tangible activities for each theme that we could present to each other. Currently the workshops are as follows:
Software Engineering (Magda)
Mechanical Engineering (Anna)
Civil Engineering and Architecture (Catriona)
Biomedical Engineering (Ellen)
Aerospace/Aeronautical Engineering (Jess)
Renewable Energy Engineering (Beck)
Design Engineering (Nina)
Infrastructure/Water Engineering (Christie)
Can you believe what a range of subjects we have?! The Glasgow girls are working super hard, with many of them arranging workshops based on degrees that they don’t study. A lot of research goes on after hours and we often spend time outside the workshop hours trying to advise each other on how best to communicate our themes and the practical aspects of our activities. Brainstorming happens at every place and at all times it seems! Throw an unfamiliar subject in with the language barrier and you can imagine how tiring these past couple days have been, with many more to come. However, many challenges have been overcome and I personally see such a change in everyone from when the teams first met on Friday. See for yourself the work done today and know that this was done completely unassisted! What a great bunch.
Now I know I have to eventually broach the subject of the 3D printer. You may have seen some pictures of us tinkering with it at the weekend, and we managed to fix one of the broken motors. However, after a thorough inspection of the circuitry and a few dry runs with Repetier, it seems as if we may have irreparable damage to the heating control of the Foldarap. Unless anyone knows of a plastic filament we can get by Friday that will melt at 35C, then it looks unlikely we can use it to print. However, the design of this RepRap allows you to see inside the workings of the printer, and see how easily one can be created. We will use this in the workshops to showcase the technology. Fortunately, the Design department have allowed us to commandeer their 3D printer for our workshops – we only knew this existed last week – and therefore we should be able to show something printing in front of the visiting groups. Even with our counterpart team we can see how fascinated they are with the technology and we hope this will be tenfold in the other schoolchildren we meet.
Another exciting aspect of the trip is the amount of interesting people we get to meet. Many of the lecturers here are from other countries, and there are many staff who are eager to investigate the project and see what we are doing. We met with the Vice Chancellor to discuss progress, and have had visiting staff often come in to meet us. Many plans are being thrown around and I wish we could write everything down here, but you’ll have to hold out until they happen! The Minister of Education is coming to see the project, which is a really big deal, and we are also potentially speaking to 1000-odd students at a vocational training school (TVET) next weekend. Eek!
In the interest of time (that I get to sleep for) I’ll conclude – everything is going well, despite so many potential disruptions, and the impact on everyone involved is clear. I’m so proud of my team and very grateful for all those who have supported us, be it now, before we left Glasgow, financially, educationally, or those who have offered to help in the future. I am definitely not doing this alone and am humbled to see where we are already, having only been away for 6 days!
Thanks to everyone who is keeping track of things, and I hope you find it as inspiring as I am. I keep forgetting that we get our exam results in a few days! There are so many interesting people and interesting things going on here, much more than I could have imagined, and it’s well worth the effort. I don’t even care how much I smell right now! Others might though, so I’ll wrap this up now so I can have a flannel bath, for everyone’s sakes.
Lots of love from all the FIR girls!