When you hear the word “NASA”, what comes into mind? Hmm! In this context, we shall focus on a team of ten ‘stratizens’ from the School of Computing and Engineering Sciences(SCES) that participated in a competition facilitated by NASA – that is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yeap! the one that sends astronauts to space, moon, or rovers to Mars. Their journey started with a flier shared by the Dean of the school – Dr. Butime.
What was on the flier?
Apart from the futuristic image and a rocket ready for takeoff, the hackathon flier highlighted “NASA International Space App Challenge”. It invited coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, builders, technologists, and innovators from around the world to come together and use open data from NASA and its space agency partners to create solutions to the challenges we face on earth and space. The chapter held in Kenya had a theme dubbed “What is up with the water?”
Exactly what did the team of 10 do?
Our stratizens, operating under the team name ‘Aqualink’, developed an app that not only identified fish species but also highlights the endangered species of the same. In addition, the app can be used to check water acidity, hence influencing how and when we can use water. This helps create a habitable space that is shared by humans and other living things. For the sake of the future generation, they believe it is important that we find sustainable solutions that make man and aqua habitants co-exist. Their awarded certificate read “outstanding participation and effort to solve challenges on earth and space”.
That’s commendable; are they any other accomplishments that the team is celebrating? They all agree that they have created new sets of networks that include experts that work at the NASA headquarters. This opens up opportunities to be mentored by those in the industry. Some believe that their interest in the course they are doing has been reignited, while others have expanded their circle of friends within campus, creating a valuable support network for academic challenges. For those who haven’t won other competitions, the award is a perk in their CV and for those that have not won in other engagements, it is a confirmation that it is worthwhile to keep trying. The most exciting bit is the fact that they stand a chance to visit NASA headquarters in Washington DC once selected in the next round and are up and ready for the challenges in the next levels.
Like with any team activity, challenges were inevitable
In the beginning they worked independently. However, they quickly realized that they were running out of time and had to figure out how they could synchronize their efforts. Occasionally, this commitment came at a cost, requiring them to work until 2am. to ensure all was in order. Focusing on the greater good saw them agreeing on a name for the app as they had to vote off other suggestions that included “Stratizens”, “Maji Mazuri” and Aquaworld.
To learn more about the competition and how you can reignite your creativity and skills, engage the team through their school. The innovators behind Aqualink are:
Brian Omoro – Bachelor of Business Information Technology (BBIT)
Cynthia Abuga – Bachelor of Science in Computer Networks and Cyber Security (BSc. CNS)
Mary Brenda Onsomu, Brian Keith, and Trevor Atela – Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Electronics Engineering (BSEEE)
Natasha Gichuhi, Edgar Omondi, Lance Munyao, Jason Otieno, and Manasseh Maina – Bachelor of Science in Informatics and Computer Science (BSc. ICS)
In closing, the team recommends that students consider joining clubs and whatsapp groups related to their courses. It is through such platforms that you learn of exciting initiatives that challenge you as you learn how other students are daring to be the best they can be by diving in the deep end.
This article was written by Annete Karanja
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