Rwandan students finish MIT-run robotics classes

Sunday January 28 2018

Top performing science students from different

Top performing science students from different secondary schools participated in a robotics camp with mentors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION 

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Top performing science students from various secondary schools in Rwanda have completed their participation in a camp where they were taught how to apply robotics in agriculture.

Irrigation, sowing, seed multiplication and preparation of land for planting are seen as areas where robotics could be applied.

BK Tech House, a technology subsidiary of the Bank of Kigali Group, organised the boot camp where selected students were taught robotics by mentors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

BK Tech House chief executive Regis Rugemanshuro, told Rwanda Today that he hopes the students will be inspired to find solutions to development challenges in their communities.

“It will be a great outcome if even half of these students go on to become robotics engineers and others become entrepreneurs,” said Mr Rugemanshuro.

He added that Africa needs to adopt robotics technology because “that is where the future is going.”

Financial support

Besides being equipped with skills, the students will also need financial and other types of support to implement their projects.

Skye Thompson, a student from MIT who was one of the robotics camp mentors, said she was first introduced to robotics in a camp similar to the one in Rwanda.

“Such camps provide a great opportunity and enable students to have a unique perspective for solving problems. The discussions we had during the camps involved where the students would go next and how they could find internships, start businesses or where to go if they want to pursue further education in robotics,” she told Rwanda Today.

According to Ms Thompson robotics innovators in the US are supported by corporates while labs help them to sharpen their skills and work on their projects.

Potential incubator

In Rwanda, Fab-lab, a local fabrication laboratory is seen as a potential incubator for robotics technology projects.

According to Ms Thomson, similar labs in the US serve as both community spaces in which innovators meet to share skills but also get resources to start their venture.

Noella Bahati Akayezu, a student from ESSA Gisenyi, a secondary school in Rubavu district, said she benefitted immensely from the camp and plans to pursue further training in the robotics field.