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UR empowers future innovators with launch of IEEE students’ branch, STEMPower Center

The University of Rwanda-College of Science and Technology (UR-CST), on March 10, took a bold step towards empowering students by inaugurating the students’ branch of the renowned Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and a STEMPower Center for high school students.

The IEEE is a professional organization dedicated to the advancement of technology related to electrical and electronic engineering, computer science, and related disciplines. It also has student chapters in universities worldwide that support and encourage the development of the next generation of engineers and scientists.

During an event held at UR-CST, Assoc. Professor. Damien Hanyurwimfura, the Director of the African Center of Excellence in Internet of Things (ACEIoT), emphasized the significance of the IEEE student branch in facilitating research and innovation among UR students and lecturers.

He explained that by enabling them to publish and share their findings with a wider audience, the university’s visibility will increase.

Hanyurwimfura also noted that the IEEE student branch provides students with access to essential resources and opportunities, enabling them to keep up with the latest technological advancements, participate in standards development, and network with professionals within their local areas or technical interests.

He said that professional engineers and technologists mentor the students.

Hanyurwimfura added that membership in the IEEE offers numerous benefits, including opportunities to compete and win awards and urged interested students to join.

The IEEE comprises various societies and technical councils specializing in diverse areas such as aerospace, communications, computer engineering, energy, robotics, and more.

Promise Ricardo Agbedanu, a PhD student in the ACEIoT in Embedded Computing System, who represented the newly created IEEE branch at UR-CST, gave a presentation highlighting that the organisation was established in 1963 and has since grown to become the world’s largest technical professional organization, with more than 400,000 members spread across more than 160 countries.

Agbedanu reiterated IEEE’s mission to promote technological innovation and excellence for the betterment of humanity.

He stated that IEEE facilitates the exchange of technical knowledge and information, develops industry standards, and supports conferences, workshops, and publications in various fields of engineering and technology to achieve its mission.

Agbedanu further emphasized that students can benefit by collaborating with IEE colleagues and member groups, either online or in person, to establish a support system for their profession, industry, or project.

This kind of interaction fosters mentorship, networking, and learning opportunities, ultimately equipping students with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in the industry.

STEMPower Center officially launched

On the same day, UR-CST officially launched the STEMPower center, a facility that aims to promote and support STEM education and careers.

STEMPower is a non for profit, educational organization, founded by Mark Gelfand to continue his efforts to integrate STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths) across Africa with the aim of establishing STEM Centers which are specialized learning facilities that offer hands-on engineering lab experience.

The center hosted 20 secondary school students from St Ignatius, St Andre, Lycee Notre Dame de Citeaux and Lycee de Kigali, who were given a tour of the facilities, introduced on basic electronics and Arduino and briefed on the opportunities available to them as they pursue science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) subjects.

The STEMPower center is designed to provide a diverse range of resources and opportunities for individuals to engage with STEM fields and develop the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed.

According to Dr. James Rwigema, the Focal Person for the STEMPower center at UR-CST, the center was established to assist young STEM students in high schools and is in partnership with the Embassy of Israel.

He explained that the STEMPower center’s outreach program aims to empower high school students by providing them with information on the opportunities available to them and helping them prepare for university.

Rwigema added that the center is also set to encourage girls in STEM to continue pursuing the fields, as some may lack the confidence to do so.

They plan to have students from specific schools visit the center every month and have access to the available STEMPower infrastructures.

Ella Reine Dusenayo, a student of Mathematics, Computer Science, and Economics (MCE) at St. Ignatius High School, expressed her excitement about the visit to the center. She found the experience insightful and believes she achieved a lot.

Dusenayo added that accessing the center would help her apply what she learns at school and get an idea of what she could achieve if she continued to pursue a STEM-related field, which could help with career guidance.

Damien Hanyurwimfura, Director of ACEIoT talking about the IEEE students’ branch
Students during IEEE students’ branch launch
Students during IEEE students’ branch launch at University of Rwanda
IEEE students’ branch launch at University of Rwanda
Students at STEMPower center, University of Rwanda
Students at STEMPower center
Different high school students with their educators and UR officials after visiting STEMPower center