Space-focused STEM initiative crowns winners

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 31 Jul 2023
The Intelsat and MaxIQ Space initiative looks to cultivate the African space sector.
The Intelsat and MaxIQ Space initiative looks to cultivate the African space sector.

South African learners came out tops in the awards presentation of the space-focused STEM programme organised by Intelsat, in partnership with MaxIQ Space.

For the Intelsat Space STEM 2023 awards, South African learners won three out of the six categories in mission one of the programme, which included the award for “top group project and presentation”.

The group of local learners earned the top honour for their project onsustainable development goal 11: sustainable cities and communities.

In addition, South Africa’s Eileen Vermeulen took the prize for the “best mega-assignment”, while Natalie Mubvuta received the “best unboxing video” award.

The other winners were from Cameroon, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. Learner participant from Rwanda, Isingizwe Lucide Pascale, received the award for the “highest average assignment grade”.

“Through the space STEM programme and MaxIQ, I've learned that boundaries are meant to be broken. We're redefining what's possible for African students in the field of space science,” comments Alabi Emmanuel Aniyikaye, learner participant from Nigeria.

“Attending space science workshops and working with MaxIQ has shown me that Africa has immense potential in the space industry. We're the next generation of African space pioneers,” adds Pascale.

This year marked the third edition of the Intelsat and MaxIQ Space STEM programme. It attracts high school learners from across the African continent to design, build and, for certain missions, launch satellites into space.

The primary goal is for learners to understand their role in building a STEM workforce pipeline in Africa, by working on a space-focused assignment to develop a design for a habitat on Mars. All engagements also aim to support and promote a digital future, mapped to the identified requirements of the fourth industrial revolution.

For this year, Intelsat says 30 learners from across Africa competed in the programme, with the majority of accepted participants from Nigeria (13) and South Africa (10).

Each participant received a MaxIQ modular electronics space STEM kit, comprised of immersive, hands-on learning and experimentation in various areas related to space and earth sciences. The kits were paired with virtual workshops featuring lessons, practical activities, assignments and experiments, culminating in a presentation and awards ceremony.

Hans Geldenhuys, Intelsat director of sales, Africa, previously said the initiative aims to develop Africa’s next generation of scientists, engineers and space enthusiasts.

With mission one completed, the next phase will see some participants advance to mission two of MaxIQ Space education programme.

Applications for the 2024 session will open later this year, notes Intelsat.