On December 20, 2019, Ehiopia’s first earth observatory satellite “ETRSS-1” launched into space. The 70-kilogram (155 lbs weight) Remote Sensing Satellite was carried into orbit aboard a Long March 4B rocket, blasting off from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Xinzhou, North China province.
Before the launching of ETRSS-1 satellite, there had been few scientific resources devoted to observe Ethiopia’s agricultural, climate, mining, and natural resources. The successful deployment of the ETRSS-1 orbiter is bringing to the nation a consistent real-time access to a wide range of environmental observation.
That data is already being downloaded to the spacecraft’s command & control center, known as the Entoto Observatory and Space Science Research Center (“EORC”), and sited atop Mount Entoto, at the western edge of Ethopia’s capital city Addis Ababa.
Data downloaded includes weather conditions, surface water patterns, crop distribution, land use, and other environmental data – all of which is already being studied by Ethiopian scientists.
For 14 years, the STEMpower team has been bringing hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math study) to many thousands of pre-university students across Ethiopia. Our mission is to imbue students with permanent practical actionable engineering skills, so that those students will be empowered to build their nation, into the future.
The STEMpower team has initiated, financed, constructed, and lab-enabled 25 STEM Centers, hosted by public universities and national research institutes in Ethiopia, plus more in other nearby nations. Our team also supports the annual Ethiopian National Science Fair competition, more than 75 virtual computer labs, a popular national STEM TV television show, and many more types of programs that together constitute a national movement.
We also act on opportunities that become available. Earlier this year, the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office realized that our STEM students could become an important part of the nation’s budding space program. By exposing our pre-university STEM students to the nation’s space program, some of these students would naturally orient their careers towards a solid foundation in space science & engineering. The jobs filled by competent and experienced Ethiopians represents yet another way Ethiopia becomes an independent and productive nation.
Therefore, STEMpower responded to the Prime Minister Office invitation, by bringing 500 talented STEM students to visit the facilities of the EORC and its parent organization, the Ethiopian Space, Science, and Technology Institute. (”ESSTI”).
The visiting students have been learning at the STEM Centers at public universities in the diverse cities of Hawassa, Bahir Dar, Kalamino/Mekele, as well as the STEM Centers of Addis Ababa area universities at Kotebe Metropolitan and Addis Ababa Science Technology, and also the STEM Center of the Menelik I Science Shared Campus high-school.
During their visit, the STEM students learned many technical concepts regarding their nation’s space program, as well as new ways to utilize their STEM Center lab equipment, and foster their understanding of innovation, technology, and astronomy, as they spread Ethiopian culture to the world.
The EORC and ESSTI professional staff reported afterwards that they were amazed by the pertinent and detailed questions asked by the STEM students, who already were highly engaged in engineering and robotics.
Biruktawite Mersha a grade 12 student from Kotebe Metropolitan University Menelik I Science Shared Campus said, “I have learned that the Ethiopian astronomical field is in progress to discover more things. My visit and the staff I met here motivates me to follow my passion to work for my country’s development.”
Yonatan Assebe a grade 12 student from the Ethiopian Academy of Science STEM Center, said, “I have seen the telescopes and equipment and their function. I found them motivational. It is good to see our country has achieved technological advancement.”
Ananya Fikremariam a grade 12 student from the Ethiopian Academy of Science STEM Center, for his part said, “Since I was a kid, I was interested in astronomy. But, this country has done little in the sector. As a result, I was unable to get any access to visit this site. So, launching a satellite and visiting Satellite receiver ground station is interesting and fascinating for me.”
STEMpower is privileged to have had its STEM Center students take part in this historic event. We continue to provide access to hands-on STEM education throughout Ethiopia to foster the space generation in Ethiopia and Africa.
“Inside every child is a scientist.” Mark Gelfand