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Women in Rwanda to get help from Glasgow University students

A TEAM of women engineers from Glasgow University is making final preparations ahead of a visit to Rwanda.


Eight students from the university’s School of Engineering make up the FemEng in Rwanda project, which aims to encourage Rwandan schoolgirls to consider careers in science, engineering, and entrepreneurship.

On June 27 they fly to Kigali for their second visit to Rwanda.

last year, they met with more than 500 local schoolgirls with the help of a 16-person team of Rwandan students and high-school graduates.

This year, they will be working with Glasgow University PhD student Jumai Abioye and her company IAE Africa, a social enterprise startup focused on improving higher education and helping young Africans develop valuable new skills.

Together, they have arranged a variety of careers-based workshops and a site visit to a local startup, Zipline, which uses drone technology to transport blood and plasma products around Rwanda.

FemEng project manager Ellen Simmons said: “Our main goal is to stay as relevant as possible to the women and girls we meet with and help them to feel both inspired and empowered to go for STEM careers.

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Ellen Simmons

“This project is a learning curve for everyone involved and you can clearly see the impact on both the team members and the participating children and teachers.

“What we offer is a new way of teaching that turns school subjects into careers and real-life applications with a great set of role models leading the way.”

The FemEng team is also addressing the fact that many young women in Rwanda consider sanitary products to be ‘luxury items’, which plays a role in reducing attendance at school or university.

The team are partnering with AFRIpads in order to provide reusable sanitary products to those who struggle to afford their own.

The Proteus Group, based at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, is giving FemEng prototypes of their Ingenious Circuits - resources and electronic equipment that aid in STEM teaching - to try out in their workshops.

Other donated items include a portable 3D printer, whirling thermometers and low-cost diagnostic devices for malaria.

The FemEng society began in 2013 within the School of Engineering.

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Female engineering students from University of Glasgow and University of Rwanda - ’FemEng’ take inter-university student collaboration to the next level.

Initially, it aimed to increase retention of women through networking and by providing role models but evolved to include outreach activities to schools and colleges.

After a year of planning, in 2016 FemEng was invited to share its programme with counterparts at the University of Rwanda over a three-week visit.

Funded by industrial sponsors and grants, the team raised more than £13000 to pay for all those involved to take part.

The FemEng Rwanda project was commended by the Minister of Education in Rwanda, Musafiri Papias Malimba, during a visit to Glasgow in October 2015.

After their return to Glasgow this year, FemEng will be working alongside Sandra White MSP, Patrick Grady MP and Glasgow City Council, to ensure long-term sustainable effects both in Glasgow and abroad by discussing strategies for growth.

Ellen will be graduating with a First Class MEng on June 23, coinciding with International Women in Engineering Day (INWED).

She has also been awarded the Glasgow University Engineering Society Medal for her contributions to engineering in society, highlighting her work in founding and developing FemEng over the past four years.

Jimirasire

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